Alignment is the act of bringing greater coherence to two critical aspects of the educational process. When aligning IEP goals to academic standards, the goal should address the skills required by the student to access the content of that standard. IEP goals should not simply restate the standards but rather give the student a functional way to participate in grade-level content.

A Standards-Based IEP includes goals that address the needs of the student from a present level of performance in all areas of need. Not every IEP goal needs to be aligned to a standard for an IEP to be considered standards-based. The academic needs of a student are best addressed by starting with content standards as a springboard for setting educational priorities and developing functional goals.