Implementation of Common Core State Standards

Implementation of Common Core State Standards is now a curriculum priority for many states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have a direct role in implementing state standards with students who have communication disorders—and who may struggle with language and literacy—and in supporting classroom teachers. SLPs collaborate with the educational team to work on appropriate curriculum and functional goals to help each student reach their individual potential.

In order to implement these roles effectively, SLPs must have or acquire

  • knowledge of the CCSS;
  • knowledge of the curriculum;
  • understanding of the typical developmental processes and stages of listening, speaking, reading, and writing;
  • ability and desire to collaborate with other school professionals;
  • understanding of the needs of students with diverse abilities and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What communication skills are associated with the CCSS that are critical for students to perform successfully, and how can the SLP identify a starting point to address specific skills?

The skills within reading, writing, speaking, and listening and language are built on communication skills. These standards address new vocabulary learning, depth of word knowledge, linguistic cohesion, meta-semantics, conversational discourse, narration and informational text engagement, inferences, multiple meanings, and an understanding and correct use of grammar and phonological skills and related cognitive abilities (information storage and retrieval, sequencing, etc.).

To begin the process of creating speech-language goals aligned with the standards, the SLP can obtain a summary of expectations for the content areas for each grade and then determine the communication skills required to meet these expectations. Discussing the student’s weaknesses and asking why the student is struggling with a given standard can help the SLP identify the foundational skill that they may need to address with the student as a starting point of therapy.

Are there specific assessments that provide information about student performance in relation to the CCSS?

At this time, no assessments align directly with the communication goals of the CCSS. Two companies are piloting assessments that reflect the expectations of CCSS: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium. Many new versions of tests are more educationally relevant and focus on communication skills found in the CCSS.

Connecting speech-language services with the standards requires knowledge of the effect that a student’s communication disorder has on meeting curriculum demands. It is important to understand why the student is demonstrating weaknesses in mastering the standards.

Sources of information to include in the assessment are

  • a review of past interventional strategies and goals (Response to Intervention [RTI] and other interventions),
  • classroom work samples,
  • classroom observations,
  • teacher/clinician probes, and
  • results of standardized tests (both classroom and speech-language assessment tests).

Disciplinary literacy should also be considered along with the communication and academic requirements of the classroom. This may include pace of instruction and complexity of materials and text.

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