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Banerjee, Rashida

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The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed-method study was to gain an indepth understanding of the processes that special education teachers used to determine reading goals for students with learning disabilities in elementary school. The first phase consisted of a quantitative investigation into existing Individual Education Program (IEP) reading goals for elementary school students with learning disabilities while the second phase consisted of a qualitative investigation involving interviews with special education teachers to explain the findings from the quantitative data analysis. The quantitative analysis included 44 IEP reading goals and the qualitative analysis, conducted through interviews, with four special education teachers. The results from the quantitative phase showed that the proportion of reading goals that met the AIMSweb guidelines in this study was 25.71%. Only 3 of 35 goals were at the mid-average percentile level (between 40th and 50th percentile). Moreover, a significant difference in the mean between current IEP goals and percentiles that were written by special education and the AIMSweb guidelines. Finally, only two goals (6.57%) were sufficient to close the achievement gap and both of these goals were written above the students’ actual grade level. Five main themes emerged from the results of the qualitative phase. The first theme discussed the procedure included conduct assessments, identify student’s level of performance, set up the students’ baseline, write the IEP goals, and collect progress monitoring data. The second theme was a discussion of writing goals at grade level versus instructional level. The third theme emphasized how teachers viewed the rational of writing IEP goals and being realistic of their expectations. The fourth theme discussed current training programs that help teachers to write appropriate goals. A final theme emerged unexpectedly. Although this theme did not answer a specific research question, the information nonetheless provided important information about teachers’ perspective of other factors that affect their students’ achievement. Findings from this study include that teachers may need training in writing grade level goals that include instructional level objectives that meet student needs. Additionally, while the majority of the students in this study did not close the achievement gap in their reading skills, those who did had goals written above grade level. One implication is that when students are assessed below the 40th% percentile of grade level, they may need additional supports at their instructional level to narrow the gap of their foundational skills. A second implication is that when the teachers write goals at or above the students’ grade level, this may contribute to closing the achievement gap. Finally, recommendations for research and practice are provided based on the results of the two phases.


Achievement gap, AIMSweb, IEP goals, Individual Education Program (IEP), learning disabilities, reading annual goals


203 pages

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