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IFSP Tutorial - Developing and Implementing

Developing the IFSP:

Essential Content

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Measurable criteria: How we know we have achieved outcomes

Maryland’s IFSP document has a section for recording family-selected outcomes and another section for specifying the criteria for determining when an outcome has been achieved. Criteria should reflect what success in achieving an outcome would look like to family members, and use tracking procedures that family members are comfortable with. The following questions can help family members and early intervention providers discuss and select measurable criteria so that all team members will know when an outcome has been accomplished.

1. What:

Can specific actions and/or behaviors by a child/family be seen and/or heard?

Measurable criteria track an action or behavior that can be seen or heard reliably by others, and do not require interpretation or guessing to figure out if an outcome has been achieved.


Outcome: Hang will communicate with family members by imitating sounds and words and speaking simple words spontaneously

CRITERIA: Hang will say m, p, t at the beginning/end of simple words, with family members in and out of her home

Outcome: Paula and Pete will find a wheelchair for Megan and feel comfortable using it during family outings

CRITERIA: Pete and Paula take Megan out in her wheelchair to the park or shopping at least 2x/week

Outcome: Neena will eat and drink by mouth like other kids during family outings

CRITERIA: Neena will drink a minimum of 4 oz of fluids from a cup and eat 3 spoonfuls of food during family outings

2. Where:

What is the context/activity setting in which the identified action/behavior will be seen or heard?

Criteria should specify where and when to observe a behavior/action, or set a date when an action will be completed. For example,

Outcome: Charlotte and Bruce will know how well Sonya hears people and sounds

CRITERIA: Parents will have written results from an audiological screening for Sara by March 1, 2004

Outcome: Jermaine will walk on his own with his family on their after dinner walks

CRITERIA: Jermaine will keep his hands open for 20 minutes when walking with his parents outside their home, 3 times per week.

Revisiting why this outcome was selected for Jermaine by his parents helps identify criteria that is measurable and simple to track. Jermaine has increased muscle tone which prevented him from walking independently with his family after dinner. His parents felt that one measure of relaxed muscles that would have great meaning for their family was if Jermaine could begin the family walk on his own, like his twin brother.

3. How often?

Is a realistic frequency identified for reviewing an action/behavior?

Specific criteria establishes a realistic reference point for parents, other caregivers and early intervention providers to easily see or hear that an outcome has been achieved. Tracking progress is difficult when criteria is broad, e.g., Jermaine will keep his hands open 75% of the time. Criteria stated in terms of “percentage of time” a child will demonstrate an action or participate can easily be misunderstood because it is not context-based. Will Jermaine keep his hands open 75% of the time he is awake, at rest, during play or while walking with his family? The frequency is easy to track when stated as:

Outcome: Jermaine will walk on his own with his family on their after dinner walks

CRITERIA: Jermaine will keep his hands open for 20 minutes when walking with his parents in and outside their home, 3 times per week

Table 2.2 provides examples of measurable criteria with guidelines for avoiding wording that is unspecified or too broad.


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