Vol. 22 • Issue 9
• Page 9
For years now, school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have been changing the look of speech and language therapy in order to coordinate with each state and school district's curriculum benchmarks and standards. With the new school year just beginning, the school SLP needs to be knowledgeable and conversant with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in order to provide superior interventions.
In the states that have adopted them, the CCSS will allow for more coordination between special education services, speech/language therapy and the general education curriculum. Whether the service is provided in the classroom (push-in model) or out of the classroom (pull-out model), administrators, teachers, special education staff and parents will be assured that all instruction and special services are in line with the CCSS for student success.
According to the CCSS Initiative's mission statement, "The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them."¹
The CCSS initiative continues to explain more about the standards, stating they:
- are aligned with college and work expectations
- are clear, understandable and consistent
- include rigorous content and application knowledge through higher-order skills
- build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards
- are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are
prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
- are evidence based.¹
Effects on the SLP
Know the Standards: At this time, 45 states and 3 territories have adopted the CCSS.¹ SLPs should consult with their district to be aware of any changes made to the curriculum to meet the CCSS. They should stay involved in the process and collaborate with teachers, as well. Visit the CCSS website for a full explanation of all the CCSS for all subject areas (www.corestandards.org).
Use the Standards: The CCSS can be used when developing Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and objectives. The CCSS cover all grades from K-12. As mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities need to have access to and must be challenged to succeed in the general education curriculum.² The IEP goals should be aligned with the grade-level academic standards, which are now the CCSS.
Breaking Down the Standards: SLPs will find that many of the English/Language Arts standards link directly to what the school SLP already targets with caseload and Response to Intervention (RtI) students. They include key terminology the SLP uses on a daily basis when writing IEP goals/objectives, collaborating with teachers and reporting progress to parents.
What are the Standards?
Example 1: Speaking and Listening Standard K-5: Describe people, places, things and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly (1st grade).
This standard ties in to the SLP's work on expressive language and improving the use of adjectives. The element of relevance also links to the common work of discussing what an important detail is versus a minor detail.
Example 2: Reading Standards for Literature K-5: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text (2nd grade).
SLPs frequently work on WH question forms and helping students understand who, what, where, when, and why, but also to gain the skills to be able to respond appropriately to such question forms.
Example 3: Reading Standards for Literature K-5: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from non-literal language (3rd grade).
The CCSS provide a direct link to using classroom text for vocabulary intervention and includes the element of literal and non-literal language concepts, which many students who have language impairments struggle with.
Language Skills: A Must
Each of these, along with a multitude of other CCSS can be easily adapted into an IEP goal, depending on the student's needs. Thus these goals directly relate to the general education curriculum and provide each student with an IEP that gives them access to the curriculum as it now stands.
Understanding the CCSS can also assist the SLP when providing support to a student or classroom teacher through the RtI model. As SLPs are more involved with the RtI process in the schools, it is essential we stay up to date with the standards in order to provide and suggest appropriate accommodations, strategies, and interventions in and out of the classroom setting.
"The role of the school speech-language pathologist is to increase student achievement and success in the district curriculum and classroom," explains Julie Woodhams, director of Special Services for the Plymouth-Canton Community School District. "To do that, school-based speech/language services must begin with a careful analysis of student skill levels in relation to the CCSS. This connection has a direct impact on the evaluation, instruction and intervention practices and places us squarely in the middle of an interdisciplinary process."
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association also states in their professional guidelines that intervention should be curriculum relevant and have a balanced focus, which includes the participation in helping students meet reading and writing standards.³
- Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2012). Mission Statement and About the Standards. Retrieved June 2012 from the World Wide Web: www.corestandards.org.
- National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2004). Retrieved June 2012 from the World Wide Web: www.nichcy.org/laws/idea.
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2000). Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists with Respect to Reading and Writing in Children and Adolescents. Retrieved June 2012 from the World Wide Web: www.asha.org/docs/html/GL2001-00062.html.
Tiffany Mullins is a school-based speech-language pathologist for the Plymouth-Canton Community School District, Canton, MI. She is also the President-Elect for the Wayne County Speech and Language Association.