Learning Disabilities and ADHD Articles

Student-Led Individual Program Plans

Written by:
Kim Tackaberry, B. Ed.
Sept. 9, 2015

From 2007-2010, Foothills Academy conducted an Alberta Independent School Initiative (AISI) project with a focus on developing a student-led IPP process. The outcome of the project concluded that the best practices for the IPP process are as follows:

  1. Students write three SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, TIme-limited) goals that they felt were an important part of their IPP.
  2. These goals are shared by the student at the IPP meeting with parents and teacher(s).
  3. Mutually agreeable SMART goals were set for the year.
  4. Students were given adequate time every Monday to set a weekly SMART goal, specifically connected to one of the three IPP goals set at the meeting.
  5. Students were taught a variety of methods they could use to monitor progress related to their SMART goals (ie. checklists, video clips, journal writing with paper/ pencil or apps.)
  6. Monday goal time is designated for the student to review the previous week’s goal, use monitoring tools to comment and set new or modified goals for the coming week.

How does goal setting help our students?

According to the research, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal… a part of our brain believes that the desired outcome is an essential part of who we are –setting up conditions that drive us to work towards the goal to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Executive functioning (EF) skills may well be part of a student’s IPP, particularly if they are diagnosed with Learning Disabilities or ADHD. Setting SMART goals can also assist in developing EF skills. For instance, creating a personal timetable uses SMART study goals to build a realistic and motivational plan outlining how to achieve those goals (https://www.examtime.com/blog/smart-goal-setting-students/ ).

Did we mention parents?

Step one is to get your students actively involved in goal setting. Step two is to prioritize communicate between the student and his/her parents about how the process is evolving. Online interactive platforms can be used to allow the parent access to the weekly goal documents and monitoring tools that are being used by their child.

Walk the Talk

School districts such as Sun West School Division in Saskatchewan, require all of their staff to set a SMART goal at the beginning of the school year. Whether it be a student, teacher or parent setting a SMART goal, one of the most significant outcomes is the development of self-advocacy. A self-advocacy checklist located on the Alberta Education website is a great tool to engage students in taking ownership of their IPP.  Actively involving students in a student-led IPP process is a SMART goal all school boards should make each year.