In this article, you will learn how SLPs can (1) Support classroom instruction, and (2) Align IEP goals with the CCSS.

Forty-five states have already adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In the modern global economy, the demand for skills is changing. Today’s jobs increasingly require analytic and non-routine interactive thinking skills. In order for our students to have the most opportunities in the job market, we must change the way we prepare them accordingly.


What the Common Core State Standards ARE:

  • 12 broad instructional shifts in ELA and Math that promote depth of knowledge over breadth.
  • Learning standards that outline general cross-disciplinary expectations.
  • Expectations for knowledge and skills that all students need to succeed.

The Common Core State Standards DO NOT DEFINE:

  • Content
  • Advanced learning beyond the standards
  • Interventions
  • Full range of supports for ELLs and children receiving special education supports

Six Shifts in ELA/ Literacy


Balancing Informational &  Literary Text.
Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts.


Knowledge in the Disciplines.
Students build knowledge through TEXT rather than the teacher or activities.


Staircase of Complexity.
Students read a central, grade appropriate text around which instruction is centered.


Text-based Answers.
Students engage in rich and rigorous evidence based conversations about text.


Writing from Sources.
Writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument.


Academic Vocabulary.
Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts.  This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.


Six Shifts in Math

Teachers significantly narrow and deepen the scope of how time and energy is spent in the math classroom, to  focus deeply on only the concepts prioritized in the standards.


Principals and teachers carefully connect the learning within and across grades so that students can build new understanding onto foundations built in previous years.


Students are expected to have speed and accuracy with simple calculations; teachers structure class time and/or homework time for students to memorize, through repetition, core functions.


Deep Understanding.
Students deeply understand and can operate easily within a math concept before moving on.  They learn math, more than the trick to get the answer right.


Students are expected to use math and choose the appropriate concept for application even w/o prompting.


Dual Intensity.
Students are practicing and understanding, both are occurring with intensity in the classroom.

The CCSS require students to master complex language which provides a unique opportunity for SLPs to facilitate learning. Check out the Common Core State Standards website:

How can the SLP Support Classroom Instruction?

SLPs are uniquely trained to identify the linguistic demands the CCSS create in classroom instruction. Informational texts often use complex syntactic structures, higher-level and abstract vocabulary and contain assumptions about background knowledge. Providing appropriate classroom and curriculum support allows the student to perform academically in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

The SLP has the opportunity to:

  • Support teachers’ classroom instruction by identifying linguistically complex/challenging language and providing linguistic support and scaffolds.
  • Find the linguistic underpinnings of the child’s challenge in accessing the curriculum and texts and create a plan for addressing that challenge in the classroom.
  • Teach metacognitive and metalinguistic skills.
  • Incorporate classroom material into pull-out therapy.
  • Help teachers identify students who need more explicit support such as scaffolding or visuals.


  • Use pictures, graphs and charts to illustrate concepts.
  • Explicit teaching of relationships between word forms, roots, prefixes and suffixes: dissolve ->  dissolution.
  • Draw student’s attention to measurement words (e.g., inch, liter, mile, etc) and provide multiple exposures through different modalities.
  • Support explicit teaching of vocabulary with evidence-based strategies (e.g., word webs, word in context, synonyms)


  • Teach strategies for identifying and understanding various perspectives of historical events.
  • Use strategies to help students work through dense text written in old-fashioned language about a remote world through reading comprehension strategies (e.g., personal connections to text, paraphrasing).
  • Support student’s understanding of the text by teaching them to determine meaning from context.
  • Use visuals, videos, field trips and other media to engage students in instruction.


  • Support explicit vocabulary teaching since every word must be understood specifically in service to that particular meaning. E.g., Prime as in prime number or Radical which is a root sign such as √.
  • Support student comprehension of extremely dense math texts through teaching them to break down sentences into separate parts .
  • Teach students to identify and explain the steps they take to solve a math problem.


  • Explicitly teach higher level reading comprehension skills such as: Inferring, predicting, summarizing and paraphrasing.
  • Provide graphic organizers to help students perform higher level reading comprehension tasks.
  • Teach students to be active readers by asking questions as they read, visualizing, predicting, activating background knowledge, make personal connections, etc.
  • Provide graphic organizers and sentence starters to support writing.

Remember: Each grade level requires a “step” of growth on the staircase.  Teachers provide necessary scaffolding and supports to students experiencing difficulty.The scaffolding should not replace the text.  It should enable all students to experience the complexity of the text, not avoid it.

How Can the SLP Align IEP Goals with the CCSS?

SLPs are an important component of the IEP team.

There are 8 steps SLPs can take to develop IEP goals aligned with the CCSS:

  1. Identify WHY the student is having difficulty—what are the underpinnings?
  2. Distill what would benefit the student most
  3. Choose the standard
  4. “Unpack” the standard and break it into its component parts.
  5. Analyze the subskills.
  6. Develop the goals.
  7. Create short-term objectives for planning and benchmarks.
  8. Monitor the goal.

Case Studies

To understand how the 8 step process is applied, begin by familiarizing yourself with the case study of fourth grader, Oscar. Once you feel comfortable using the CCSS as a starting point for determining therapy goals, try to develop your own goals with the remaining examples on the LEADERSproject website. The numbers in parentheses refer to the steps that you are asked to practice in each case study.

  • Oscar: 4th grade bilingual child with speaking, listening, and reading comprehension difficulties (Sample case study)
  • Monica: 12 year old, 6th grade ELL who struggles with grade-level texts (Steps 7-8)
  • Joey: 6 year old first grader who has difficulty expressing himself verbally at grade level (Steps 3-7)
  • Amanda: 13 year old 6th grader with severely delayed writing skills (Steps 1-8)
  • Caitlin: a first grade bilingual child at risk forgrade level reading (Steps 1-8)