Goal-Oriented Assessment of Lifeskills (GOAL)

by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR, Thomas Oakland, PhD, and David S. Herzberg, PhD

More about the Goal


The Goal-Oriented Assessment of Lifeskills (GOAL) is an innovative new evaluation of functional motor abilities needed for daily living. Designed for children 7 to 17, the GOAL consists of seven Activities, fun and motivating tasks based on real occupations of a child’s daily life. Each activity is linked to intervention targets that help the therapist use assessment results to create specific, goal-oriented treatment plans. This standardised, psychometrically precise instrument provides a valid description of a child’s competencies and challenges in both fine and gross motor domains.

The GOAL can help determine eligibility for special services and inform planning of occupational and/or physical therapy and adaptive physical education. It’s useful in a variety of settings, including schools, clinics, hospitals, and private practice. Although intended primarily for occupational therapists, it can be used by other professionals, including psychologists, physical therapists, and other childhood intervention specialists.

Administration, Scoring and applying the results to treatment planning

An individually administered assessment, where the child performs seven activities representing a range of functional tasks.

Dr A. Jean Ayres’ sensory integration theory describes many of the key concepts underlying the GOAL’s activities. Her theory proposes that processing of sensory inputs provides a foundation for the development of cognitive and motor skills.

Standardization and Psychometric Properties

The GOAL Activities were standardised on a sample of 616 children [7 to 17years] from four geographic regions of the United States of America.

A clinical sample of 152 children referred to occupational therapy for mild to moderate sensory and/or motor challenges was also collected.

Statistical analysis of the GOAL demonstrates good reliability and validity. It also provides clear evidence for distinguishing typically developing children from clinic-referred children, including those with:

  • sensory and motor disorders
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • ADHD
  • learning disabilities


Analysis of the standardization sample shows acceptable internal consistency correlations for:

  • Fine Motor Standard Scores
  • Gross Motor Standard Scores

[all >.75] – these are higher than in the clinical sample [>.84], which represents the target population for the GOAL Activities.

Internal reliability for the Progress Score is .90.

Test-retest reliability data for the clinical sample demonstrate acceptable correlations of:

  • .76 for the Fine Motor Standard Score
  • .77 for the Gross Motor Standard Score.


Convergent validity data were collected for four assessments:

  • Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT)
  • Sensory Processing Measure (SPM),
  • Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition (BOT-2)
  • Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, Second Edition (ABAS-II).

Scores generally correlate in expected ways with these measures, showing acceptable evidence of construct validity.

Reliably Distinguishing Typically Developing Children From Clinic-Referred Children

The differences in mean standard scores between the standardization and clinical samples represent large, clinically significant effect sizes. Analysis from the samples demonstrate good sensitivity and specificity:

  • 74% of the clinical sample had Fine Motor Standard Scores of 85 or less
  • 85% of the standardization sample had Fine Motor Standard Scores of 86 or more
  • 79% of the clinical sample had Gross Motor Scores at or below 85
  • 87% of the standardization sample had Gross Motor Scores at or above 85

Available from WPS