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Common Core State Standards for SLPs

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Using the Common Core: What SLPs Need to Know

Debbie Lozo, SLP Consultant, GO SSLP

The common core standards will be implemented by teachers across Georgia this fall for English-Language Arts and Mathematics content areas. In addition, literacy standards will be implemented in 6-12 social studies, science, and technical subjects. The standards were developed collaboratively with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and with feedback from states, teachers, researchers, higher education, and the general public. They were finalized in June 2010. Work is continuing to develop and finalize standards for other content areas such as social studies and science (

Benefits of the Common Core for Struggling Students:
With national standards (only a few states have chosen not to adopt the complete Common Core) there will be more consistency from state, district, and school levels. The Common Core will help to define the bottom line for what needs to be learned. For our students with speech-language and other disabilities, the consistency and definition of the bottom line could really help to focus instruction.  It will also help students from mobile families and should lead to better preparation from grade level to grade level. In addition, more teaching resources are becoming available across the nation (Kendall, 2011).

Organization of Standards – The Big 3 for SLPs Plus….
Language skills are at the “core” of the Common Core, including narratives, comprehension, phonological awareness, conversation/discourse, grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and much more! The standards are organized into strands:  Language (including vocabulary), Listening and Speaking, and Reading (including foundational reading skills). These are the “Big 3” for SLPs plus Literacy for 6-12 social studies, science, and technical subjects; Writing; and the language base for Mathematics. An integrated model of literacy with media requirements are blended throughout the standards.  Shared responsibility for students’ literacy skills is addressed through the Literacy 6-12 standards for content areas. Throughout the standards, there is a strong emphasis on preparing students for college and career readiness or the ability to succeed in entry level college courses and workforce training programs (
What are standards?
“Standards are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Standards set the goals for what students should know and be able to do by the time they complete a grade level and then ultimately graduate from high school. Curriculum guides how a teacher teaches to help students achieve goals/standards“( Sometimes in the past, the textbook was considered the curriculum, but now, the textbook is just a resource to used along with many others such as trade books, research-based articles, video clips, other media, etc.
The standards are complex texts and need to be read carefully and analyzed. Standards usually have 3 components: 1) Content – what students must know, 2) Process – what students should be able to do (in terms of a discrete skill or process), and 3) Performance – how well the students must do it and in what kind of complex performance (Wiggins, 2011).

The standards also include College and Career Readiness "anchor standards" which progress through out elementary, middle, and high school levels. Listed below are the anchor standards with the last bullet summarizing language skills that SLPs address.
Language Standards address:
  • Conventions of standard English
  • Knowledge of language (using language effectively and recognizing language varieties)
  • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
  • Includes language skills such as syntax, grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and conversation.
Listening & Speaking Standards address:
  • Comprehension and Collaboration  (day-to-day, purposeful academic talk in one-on-one, small-group, and large-group settings)
  • Presentation of Knowledge & Ideas ( formal sharing of ideas and concepts)
  • Includes language skills such as discourse, pragmatics, describing, retelling, summarizing, presenting, adapting speaking, and point of view.
Reading Standards address:
  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Craft and Structures
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  • Foundational Reading Skills:  print concepts (K-1), phonological awareness( K-1), phonics and word recognition (K-5), fluency (K-5)
  • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
  • Separate standards for reading:  Literature and Informational Text ,  grades 6-12
  • Includes language skills such as comprehension, narratives, questioning, summarizing, analyzing, inferencing, story elements, evaluating, point of view, determining theme or central idea.
Common Core State Standards Initiative (2011). Available at Council of chief state school officer and national governors association center for best practices  (2010).
Kendall, J. (2011). Understanding common core state standards. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
Wiggins, G. (2011). Thoughts on Education. Comments on Education Weekly Blog, Nov. 2, 2011.


Tools for SLPs

Language Skills in the standards from an SLP Lens - summary of language skills in the standards

Standards Charts: Listed below are charts with standards listed by levels: elementary, middle, and high school. They are listed by grade levels and strands to help SLPs see the horizontal and vertical progression. The charts are for Language Arts, but we will be adding others soon.

These standards are complex and will need to be “unwrapped” or “broken down” into more discrete language skills. However, SLPs can easily see language skills that can be translated into goal/objectives for deficit skills (e.g., retelling, main idea, important details, summarizing information, etc.). SLPs can use the Common Core Standards to guide their curriculum-based therapy.

To use the charts, here is an example: if a student is in 5th grade, but functioning closer to the 2nd grade standard, the SLP can look back at earlier grade level expectations and analyze the skills needed for the student to progress towards the grade level standard.  The SLP can then look at evidence-based strategies for developing these skills.
SLPs can also use this information to explain to teachers, parents, and administrators on how we impact and support student achievement. Knowing the standards for the levels of students on our caseload can also help SLPs to prioritize what is most important for therapy focus. Since SLPs work with multiple grade levels, the standards charts can make it easier to locate the grade level standards and to develop therapy interventions that address student needs from multiple grade levels (e.g., a language group with 6th & 7th grade students). While a great number of the standards address language skills, there is application for conversation and speaking skills that relates to articulation, fluency, voice and overall intelligibility.
Lozo, D. (2012). Using the common core: What SLPs need to know. GO SSLP Newsletter. Atlanta, GA: Georgia Organization of School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists, Vol. 28.

Another way of looking at the standards: Compiled by Jennifer Cripps-Ludlum, Gwinnett County Schools
Checklists: Listed below are checklists based upon the Common Core and research on language development. The checklists are targeted for teachers, therapists, and other school staff to help in gathering information on classroom functioning related to language skills and meeting the Common Core standards. SLP departments in school districts may want to further "unpack" language skills as many of the standards are broad and need to be separated into smaller skill units. The checklists listed below are a starting point in developing instruments to gather information on student language skills.
A great suggestion -  interview the main classroom teacher(s) to really target student weaknesses related to the standards and the checklist. Sometimes, there can be different interpretations. The interview can really help to pin-point areas of difficulty. The form provided includes room for interview and/or comments on each of the major strands in the language arts common core.
PreK Speech Standards: Compiled by Rene' Seals, Newton County Schools

As SLPs, we know that oral language is the foundation for the development of reading and writing skills. Language and literacy skills have a reciprocal relationship. While oral language development occurs first, emergent literacy skills are not far behind. Then literacy activities continue to develop language skills and take them to a higher level (learning to read / reading to learn).
Speech-language pathologists have unique skills that contribute to the development of language and literacy skills that help students meet the standards. However, it is in their collaboration with teachers and specialists that the greatest impact on student progress will occur. With the strong language base of the Common Core, SLPs now may have more opportunities to collaborate with teachers and others on developing these skills.  Classroom teachers will need to address conversation and discourse skills and create opportunities for academic talk in one-on-one, small group, and whole group interactions. Many teachers would benefit from an SLP’s ideas and suggestions!
For the future, consider ways that you can increase collaboration with classroom teachers, administrators and parents. Learn as much as you can about your students’ needs in the classroom - visiting classrooms and using checklists can help (soon to be available at ). Consider using a variety of delivery models (in-class, pullout, combination, etc.) to address curriculum-based therapy. Checkout the resources on the  website!
Lozo, D. (2012). Using the common core: What SLPs need to Know. GO SSLP Newsletter. Atlanta, GA: Georgia Organization of School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists. Vol 28.
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