The Journey Continues: Evaluating and Adjusting Targets in SEN

by | Aug 14, 2023

The Journey Continues: Evaluating and Adjusting Targets in SEN

In this instalment, we delve into the crucial aspects of evaluating and adjusting targets in the realm of Special Educational Needs (SEN). By comprehending the significance of ongoing assessment and refinement, we can ensure that targets remain adaptive to the ever-evolving needs of our students. Let us embark on this journey of continuous improvement and discover effective strategies to meet the diverse needs of our learners.

Formative Assessment in Target Evaluation

Defining Formative Assessment and Its Role in Gauging Student Progress

Formative assessment is a dynamic process that involves gathering and analysing real-time data to evaluate students’ progress and understanding. Unlike summative assessment, which takes place at the end of a learning period, formative assessment occurs throughout the instructional process. Its primary purpose is to provide timely feedback that informs instructional decisions, allowing educators to make necessary adjustments and interventions to enhance learning outcomes.
As SENCOs, employing formative assessment techniques is paramount in understanding the unique challenges and strengths of students with special educational needs. By regularly assessing their progress, educators can identify areas that require additional support and tailor instructional strategies accordingly.

Continuous Assessment Informing Instructional Decisions

Continuous assessment plays a pivotal role in guiding instructional decisions for students with special educational needs. It enables educators to identify gaps in knowledge, monitor skill development, and adapt teaching approaches to suit individual learning styles. By collecting and analysing data on an ongoing basis, SENCOs can design personalised interventions that cater to each student’s specific requirements.
Through continuous assessment, educators can identify potential roadblocks that hinder a student’s progress and address them promptly. By employing various assessment methods, such as observations, quizzes, and informal discussions, SENCOs can gain a comprehensive understanding of their students’ progress and adjust targets accordingly.

Examples of Formative Assessment Tools Suitable for SEN Contexts

1. Observational Assessments: In the context of SEN, observing students’ interactions, behaviours, and engagement in classroom activities provides valuable insights into their learning patterns.
2. Checklists and Rubrics: These tools help SENCOs evaluate students’ skills and behaviours against specific criteria, making it easier to identify areas of improvement.
3. Portfolios: Creating portfolios that showcase students’ work samples and progress over time can serve as a comprehensive formative assessment tool.
4. Performance Tasks: Designing tasks that require practical application of skills allows SENCOs to gauge students’ abilities in real-life scenarios.

Periodic Review and Adjustment

Highlighting the Significance of Regular Review Sessions to Assess Target Efficacy

Setting targets is not a one-time activity; it requires ongoing monitoring and review to ensure their effectiveness. Periodic review sessions play a pivotal role in determining whether the chosen targets are realistic and appropriate for each student’s individualised learning plan.
As SENCOs, it is essential to collaborate with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders during these review sessions to gain comprehensive insights into each student’s progress and challenges. By fostering a team-oriented approach, we can develop a holistic understanding of the student’s needs and collectively devise strategies for improvement.

Strategies for Making Data-Driven Adjustments to Existing Targets

Data-driven decision-making is a fundamental aspect of effective target adjustment. As SENCOs, we should leverage the wealth of data available through formative assessments, student performance records, and input from teachers and parents to identify trends and patterns.
When making adjustments to targets, it is crucial to be specific and measurable. For instance, instead of aiming for vague improvements, set clear objectives like “increasing reading comprehension by 10% within the next three months.” This specificity ensures that progress can be accurately tracked and celebrated.

The Role of IEP Meetings in Collaborative Target Refinement

Individualised Education Program (IEP) meetings are opportune occasions to discuss the progress of students with special educational needs and make necessary adjustments to their targets. These meetings bring together educators, parents, and specialists involved in the student’s education, fostering a collaborative approach.
During IEP meetings, each participant can provide valuable insights based on their interactions and observations of the student. This collective input allows for comprehensive target refinement, where adjustments are made to accommodate the student’s growth and address any emerging challenges.

Celebrating Progress and Success

Emphasising the Importance of Recognising Incremental Achievements

In the pursuit of educational goals, it is crucial to celebrate not only final accomplishments but also the incremental achievements of students with special educational needs. Each step forward, no matter how small, is a testament to the student’s determination and the effectiveness of the strategies employed.
As SENCOs, we should actively acknowledge these small victories and celebrate the progress made by our students. Doing so instils a sense of accomplishment and motivates them to persevere in their learning journey.

The Positive Impact of Celebrations on Student Motivation and Self-Esteem

Celebrations have a profound impact on student motivation and self-esteem. When students receive recognition and praise for their efforts, they are more likely to feel valued and empowered. For students with special educational needs, this validation can be particularly transformative, boosting their confidence and willingness to engage in the learning process.

Ideas for Inclusive and Meaningful Ways to Acknowledge Progress

1. Student Spotlights: Dedicate a section in the school newsletter or website to highlight the achievements of students with special educational needs.
2. Certificates of Achievement: Create personalised certificates acknowledging specific progress and skills mastered by the student.
3. Classroom Celebrations: Host small classroom celebrations when students achieve their targets, encouraging a sense of camaraderie among peers.
4. Peer Recognition: Implement a system where students can acknowledge their classmates’ achievements, promoting a positive and supportive learning environment.


Through formative assessment practices, periodic reviews, and celebrations of progress, educators and stakeholders can ensure that targets remain dynamic and responsive to each student’s unique journey. As SENCOs, let us continue to embrace the spirit of continuous improvement and support the growth and development of all our students, fostering an inclusive and empowering educational environment.

“Continuously evaluating and adjusting targets in Special Educational Needs (SEN) ensures adaptive strategies to meet students’ ever-evolving needs.”

Target Setting for SEN
Abigail Hawkins FCCT

Abigail Hawkins FCCT

Director of SENDCO Solutions

Abigail Hawkins was a SENCO for over 25 years and has worked with pupils with all types of needs.  Abigail has worked with Ed-Tech companies on developing their software and also been chair of governors for a multi-academy trust. Abigail now runs SENsible SENCO and SENDCO Solutions, with the aim of working with SENCOs and inclusion leaders across the UK to improve their support for SEND pupils. See our school services for more information.

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