Using Rubrics to Assess Progress Towards IEP Goals

Rubrics have been essential for my resource program this year. Rubrics are efficient tools to assess authentic student learning and growth. Instead of measuring a skill as correct/incorrect or simply generating a percentage score, rubrics allow us to assess holistically and offer a chance to incorporate quantitative and qualitative data.

Here are the top 5 benefits to using rubrics:

  • Evaluate performance:  Rubrics are used to evaluate student work by measuring it against set scoring criteria.  Using the scoring criteria allows teachers to objectively complete an error analysis, look for skill gaps, and determine the level of support or cues needed to complete a task or assignment. I use rubrics to assess progress towards IEP goals throughout the quarter.  In addition, I use rubrics to analyze work samples as part of initial evaluations and 3 year reevaluations to supplement the standardized testing data and generate baseline data for IEP goals.


  • Provide hierarchy of skill development: Rubrics include a task analysis and standards-aligned progression of skills required for mastery. This is helpful not only in showing student growth, but also helpful in designing instruction to address the specific skill gaps students may have.


  • Communicate with parents: Using the actual rubric itself or language from the rubric indicators on progress updates, provides parents with detailed information about how their child is progressing. It communicates specific information about skills and growth rather than just a score on an assessment. This year I added the criteria category of “Level of Support” with the indicators of “Independent,” “Minimal Support,” “Moderate Support,” and “Did not attempt.”  This has been extremely helpful when communicating progress.


  1. Define performance expectations: Teachers can use rubrics to set expectations for performance with students prior to starting an assignment.  I use the rubric to assess work completed during the modeling phase of instruction with the class. For example, after I model how to create a written response to text, I have the students check my work using the rubric to see if I included the essential components.  Students can also use the rubrics to self-assess and self-correct their work before turning in assignments.


  • Measure progress across time and settings:  Rubrics can be used with specifically designed tasks or assignments for progress monitoring, or with authentic curriculum-based work samples.  I attach the scoring rubrics to student work samples and save them in individualized portfolio binders. Students are able to see their growth throughout the school year, reflect on the progress, and set specific goals for improvement.


Rubrics could be using in general education, special education, for all subject areas, as well as for behavioral and social goals. Click on the links below to see sample rubrics I’ve individualized for students in my resource program. The rubrics should be modified and customized to meet the needs of students in your classroom based on grade level standards, IEP goals and specific learning needs.

Download our fully editable rubrics here!  The following rubrics for IEP goal progress monitoring are included:

  • Foundational Reading Skills
  • Reading Comprehension: Informational Text
  • Reading Comprehension: Narrative
  • Expository Writing
  • Narrative Writing
  • Written Response to Text
  • Math Problem Solving
  • Behavior and Social Skills

Considerations for IEP Goals:  When developing new IEP goals, write goals measured by the rubric’s criteria where appropriate.  For example, “Given a writing prompt based on a reading passage, the student will generate a written response to text using textual evidence, elaboration and correct conventions as measured by a score of at least #% on writing samples scored with a ‘Written Response to Text Rubric’ at least 3 times per quarter.” When updating progress on goals at the end of each quarter, I report the overall percentage on the scored rubric, along with details in the comment section to elaborate on the student’s progress.  Using indicators directly from the rubric helps to make the comments specific and informative. Furthermore, it is useful to attach the rubric to a student’s IEP. This helps parents understand how you will be measuring the skill and stays with the student if the student moves to another school.

Overall, I have found that rubrics have strengthened my ability to provide consistent, accurate progress data for students in an efficient manner. Rubrics can easily show growth over time and illustrate clear information about specific skills and progress towards standards. For more special education tips and tools, check out this blog.


The Time-on-Task Chart I Can’t Live Without!

During my 14 years as a special educator, I’ve created and designed various tools, forms, and charts to support students and teachers.  This Time-On-Task Chart, however, is one of my top tools as it has enabled me to gather valuable data about student performance in both general education and special education settings. It measures behavior in 30 second intervals and tracks specific off task behaviors so teachers can easily see patterns in behavior in as little as 10 minutes.

TimeOnTaskObservationChart-1_Page_2Here are some examples of how I’ve use it throughout the years…

Pre-Referral: Data collection and documentation is an important part of the pre-referral and RTI process. This chart has been an effective tool in helping teachers gather baseline data, pinpoint patterns of behavior and determine triggers early in the process.  This information is then used to design behavioral interventions. The chart can be used to measure effectiveness of intervention and compare subsequent ratings to the baseline rating.  Furthermore, since time-on-task data is collected for a control subject as well, important information about the classroom environment, management, or teaching style is gained.  For example, if the control subject’s time-on-task behavior is just as low as the target child’s time-on-task, then perhaps there is an issue with the learning activity or behavioral expectations being provided during that time.

Evaluations: Classroom observations are critical components of multidisciplinary evaluations. I’ve used this chart to collect data and gather important information about how a child functions in the classroom for every single evaluation I’ve completed. I am able to provide concrete data regarding classroom functioning and on-task behavior which helps to provide a holistic picture of the child.

IEP Progress Updates: For students who have time-on-task or classroom functioning goals, I’ve used this chart to regularly progress monitor and update IEP goals.  It allows me to provide a concrete percentage of time-on-task, along with information about specific behaviors, learning tasks, grouping arrangements which impact student behavior.  I’ve also charted the data and shared with students and parents.  Students love to see when they make improvements!  If a student is not making progress, it is a great opportunity to discuss challenges and make necessary changes with them.  This helps to increase ownership and responsibility.

Behavior Intervention Plan: Data collected from the time-on-task chart provides key information about antecedents, behaviors, and consequences in authentic classroom settings. Since data collection is quick and easy, frequent data points can be collected throughout the day or week to measure effectiveness of behavior intervention plans.

Communication with Parents: In addition to sharing information about time-on-task behavior on formal IEP updates, I’ve also used this data during conferences and informal check-ins with parents.  Parents have also reported that this information was helpful to share with outside counselors and doctors to assist with ADHD diagnosis and monitor effectiveness of treatment and/or medication.

This easy-to-use documentation tool can be used by special educators, general educators, paraprofessionals and related service personnel.

1. Choose a target student to observe and a control subject (same age,same sex peer) to which to compare the student.
2. Indicate type of instruction: W-whole group, S-small group, I-independent, O-one to one for each interval of the observation.
3. Use a watch or stop watch to track the time. At every 30 second interval, either mark + for on task behavior or for off task behavior.
4. If the student is off task, indicate the specific off task behavior in the chart.
5. Total up data and calculate percent to determine total time the student was on task.
6. Use comments below to note additional observations and anecdotal data.

TimeOnTaskObservationChart-1_Page_1Download our Time-on-Task chart today!  Available on TPT and here. 

Don’t just take my word for it though…Here’s what others have said about this chart as well:


“Perfect! Just what I was looking for. Great observation form.” ~Jill Y.

“This is an excellent tool! I’ve used it for three students today! Very helpful…thanks!” ~Bill J.

“Exactly what I was looking. Thank you for saving me the time :).” Julie W.

“Really handy form to have to use for observations.” ~Renee R.

“I had my principal use this during one of my observations! It also gave me concrete data to take to my RTI meeting.” ~Marecela W.


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