The most effective educational experience asks students to develop a list of personal goals for a successful school year, according to the Center on Education Policy. Some elementary students prefer a formal list, while others require only a mental listing of things to work toward during the academic year. Developing goals during the elementary grades gives students experience in setting practical and achievable goals. This early practice also helps high school and college students learn to set goals without direct help from family members.
An education goal, as defined by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, is a formal statement of "intent, purpose or expected outcomes." Defining school goals helps students, with direction from parents and teachers, to understand and achieve common goals. State laws require teachers and administrators to work with special-needs students to develop a personal Individualized Education Program. This IEP report lists annual benchmarks for the child to meet during the school year, and teachers and parents meet several times during the year to track progress toward the goals. The formal goal-setting process, however, can assist all students in working toward annual targets. Parents can ask elementary teachers or counselors to help create a list of goals for their child, even when the student doesn't have special needs.
School goals for elementary school focus on specific targets for student improvement and achievement. The categories for educational goals specify academic, self-help, motor skills or social and emotional skills. Other goals look at the student's vocational, behavioral and communication skills and achievements. Specific benchmarks in these goal categories might include the steps to master self-control in the classroom or on the playground, or ways to improve academic grades in a particular subject area.
An effective list of goals identifies the current achievement level and targets a specific benchmark for improvement. Goals typically list improvement that can be measured and note the current, measured achievement level, the targeted level of the new school benchmark and a plan for the student to reach the stated goal. Most formal educational goals list the specific steps for the elementary student to meet the final benchmark. The steps sometimes feature weekly or monthly meetings with teachers, parents and students to discuss the work or the desired behavior. Many elementary schools and classroom teachers offer weekly written reports to help parents track student progress toward meeting a formal list of annual goals.
Informal goals typically focus on less important tasks for the student, but that doesn't mean that the work to meet these benchmarks isn't important. The ASPIRA Association, a group focused on academic achievement for Hispanic students, notes that assessment to evaluate informal goals doesn't offer a "comparison to a broader group beyond the student," but the evaluation does provide important insights into the actions of a single elementary student. Sample informal goals include greater enjoyment of a class subject, accepting personal challenges and developing personal organization. These goals allow an overall evaluation that challenges formal measurement, but improvement can be judged on a general scale using assessments such as "good," "acceptable" or "needs more improvement," according to the Pennsylvania ABLE Staff, an education resource program for classroom teachers.