Target-Setting (Post-Primary)

Good target-setting is central to effective teaching and learning for students with special education needs. There are four guiding principles when devising targets for students. Targets should be:

  • Linked to assessment
  • Strengths-based
  • Linked to interventions
  • Developed collaboratively

Best practice indicates that targets should be few in number. They should be informed by priority learning needs and directly linked to suitable interventions. Targets should be based on the evidence collected through both formal and informal assessment approaches. School personnel should consult with parents when setting targets and reviewing progress. The views of students should also be included in this process through their direct involvement in the discussion or by gathering their views in advance of the review process. This collaboration will help ensure that targets are relevant, meaningful, realistic, and that they draw on the strengths and interests of students. Targets should be expressed in a way that is measurable and observable, and should reflect the specific special educational needs of individual students (for example, focus on social and emotional difficulties if that is a priority area of concern). While targets should be achievable within a specified time frame, they should also challenge and build on existing knowledge and address students’ holistic needs. Appendix 1 of the Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools sillustrates how target-setting is an integral part of the problem-solving framework to support students with special educational needs.

Appendix 1: Target-setting as part of the problem-solving framework