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Educators often need to write SMART goals for their students. This lesson will introduce you to the components of SMART goals so that you can improve your goal-writing skills by writing goals that are SMART.

Definition of SMART Goals

Have you ever made a goal for yourself only to find that when it came to evaluate your goal, you really did not know if you met it or not? After the holidays last year, I made a goal for myself to lose weight by the spring season. When the calendar turned to May, I asked myself if I met my goal, and I honestly could not give a definitive answer because I had not made a SMART goal.SMART is an acronym that helps individuals write meaningful and measurable goals.

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The letters of the acronym stand for specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. Although SMART goals can be used in a variety of settings (business, personal use, etc.), they are often used in school settings for students. In this lesson, we will take a look at each of the components of the SMART acronym and practice applying the components to goals for students.

Components of SMART Goals

Specific: When writing goals for students, they need to be specific. This means that the goal should be well defined so that everybody on the educational team knows exactly the intended outcome for the goal.

Measurable: Writing a goal that is measurable is essential. A goal that is measurable means that data can be taken on the goal to provide evidence of it being met or not met.Achievable: Goals for students should also be achievable. This means that the goal will challenge the student, so that it is worthwhile to work on, but that it is also a realistic task for the student to accomplish.Results-focused: Results-focused means that the goal is measuring an outcome, not an activity or exercise.Time-bound: A goal should always indicate a timed deadline for its outcome.

Writing SMART Goals

Now that we know the components of SMART goals, let’s apply the acronym to an educational goal for a student. Here is a goal for a second-grade student that could use some SMART help!’Bobby will improve his reading comprehension skills.’A SMART goal would be written like this: ‘Bobby will be able to read a 5-paragraph story written at a third-grade level and identify the story elements of setting, character, and plot in four out of five stories each week for five consecutive weeks by June 1, 2015.’Do you see why this is a SMART goal? It is specific because it identifies the exact skill Bobby should be working on, much more so than simply stating that he will improve his comprehension skills. It is measurable because a teacher can take data on this goal and track his progress. It is achievable because it will challenge Bobby to read at the third-grade level, but this goal is not impossible as he is currently in second grade.

It is results-focused because it measures an intended outcome, and it is time-bound because it identifies a specific date for completion.

Additional SMART Goal Examples

Here are a few other examples to help you apply the SMART goal components.Goal: Melissa will improve her writing skills.SMART goal: Melissa will be able to write a 5-sentence paragraph that includes a topic sentence, three supporting details, and a concluding sentence with fewer than four spelling or grammatical errors in three out of four writing prompts each week for three consecutive weeks by May 15, 2015.Goal: Abby will solve math word problems.

SMART goal: Abby will be able to solve five single-step math word problems written at the fourth grade level that include the operations of multiplication and division with 100% accuracy in six consecutive trials by January 20, 2015.Goal: Peter will increase his social interactions at school.SMART goal: Peter will greet and start a conversation with a peer at the lunch table three out of the five days of the week for four consecutive weeks by November 3, 2015.

Can you see how each of the SMART goals include the components of being specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound?Now, you try improving the following goal by making it SMART: ‘Mary will increase her vocabulary usage in her writing.’ Remember to check your goal for the five SMART components!

Lesson Summary

Writing SMART goals helps educational teams support the learning of students. Remember, goals for students should be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. These components will help educational teams ensure a student is receiving the instruction he or she needs and will allow the team to effectively monitor and evaluate the student’s progress.

Learning Outcomes

Once you’ve finished with this lesson, you should have the ability to:

  • Explain what SMART goals are, describing their five components
  • Recall the purpose of SMART goals
  • Describe examples of SMART goals and how to write them

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