Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Students With Hearing Loss: Important Role for Educational Audiologists

What Are CCSS?

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of grade-specific skills and concepts that all students are expected to acquire in grades K–12 so that they are prepared to succeed in college course work and workforce training programs. The CCSS Initiative was a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Most states have adopted the CCSS. The CCSS are to be adopted verbatim; however, states have the option to individualize and expand the standards by adding an additional 15% of state-developed standards.

How Do CCSS Apply to Students With Hearing Loss?

CCSS define the knowledge and skills that all students should acquire to be successful after high school graduation. To participate in the general education curriculum, students with hearing loss need individualized supports and services that enable them to achieve the same high standards required of their peers without hearing loss. These supports and services may include instructional and classroom modifications and accommodations (including sophisticated personal and classroom technology) to ensure access to classroom instruction. Students with hearing loss often also require related services in areas of speaking and listening, language, communication, reading, social, and self-advocacy skills. Linking Individualized Education Program (IEP) activities to content standards helps ensure students with hearing loss have opportunities to reinforce the CCSS addressed in their classrooms.

Instructional and Classroom Supports and Services for Students With Hearing Loss

Determining services, placements, and accommodations for students with hearing loss requires a comprehensive review of students' needs. Examples of the areas the IEP team should consider include:

  • need for related services and supports (e.g., speech-language, educational audiology, English language learning, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, parent training)
  • language level
  • communication mode (e.g., signed English, spoken English, American Sign Language)
  • personal hearing technology (e.g., hearing aids, cochlear implants)
  • need for other hearing assistive technology (e.g., FM system, classroom distribution system)
  • need for interpreter services
  • classroom environment (e.g., acoustics, size, lighting)
  • instructional accommodations (e.g., teacher speaking style, language models, use of visual information, classroom technology)

Creating Standards-Based IEPs

In response to adoption of CCSS, many states now implement standards-based IEPs. Aligning IEP goals and objectives with CCSS ensures students receive individualized services and supports that help them participate and make progress in the general education curriculum. Seven steps to developing standards-based IEPs [PDF] are described in detail on the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) Project Forum website, including:

Step 1: Consider the grade-level content standards for the grade in which the student is enrolled or would be enrolled based on age.

Step 2: Examine classroom and student data to determine where the student functions in relation to grade-level standards.

Step 3: Develop the present level of academic achievement and functional performance. 

Step 4: Develop measurable annual goals aligned with grade-level academic content standards.

Step 5: Assess and report the student's progress throughout the year.

Step 6: Identify specially designed instruction, including accommodations and/or modifications, the student needs to access and progress in the general education curriculum.

Step 7: Determine the most appropriate assessment option.

The Role of the Educational Audiologist

The role of the educational audiologist on the educational team supporting students with hearing loss cannot be underestimated. The efforts of the IEP team need to be guided by a complete understanding of the child's hearing loss and overall needs. This knowledge must, in turn, be coordinated with and integrated into ongoing classroom instruction and extracurricular activities. The audiologist is the education team member with comprehensive knowledge about hearing loss and its consequences. Therefore, audiologists provide an excellent resource for comprehensive assessment, direct/indirect services, in-service activities, and public information efforts that can significantly enhance the intervention efforts of the education team. It is vital that all service providers work collaboratively to support the student and address their individual needs.

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