SLP 101: Speech Therapy and The Common Core

The Common Core. If you’re a school based SLP (in most states) you’ve lived it. If you’re interviewing for a school-based SLP job, you know you need to know about it. Knowing about the CCSS and knowing HOW to use it in your daily practice are two different things! I thought I’d share with you the basics and how I’ve been incorporating the CCSS in my school based therapy.


The Common Core State Standards are standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Today, 43 states have voluntarily adopted and are working to implement the standards, which are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.

Here is a video published by the folks over at the CCSS that tells a little bit more about the standards.

Basically, instead of states having their own learning standards, they developed national standards. Click here to determine if your state has adopted the CCSS.

When I develop an IEP /Intervention program for students with communication delays I refer to the standards and developmental norms.   Just like you would refer to developmental norms, the CCSS provides benchmarks where we can compare our students to their peers. In the “present levels” section of each IEP, we must indicate what specific skills and areas are below expectations. We then develop goals/objectives that match those deficits.

Example:  “Compared to her third grade peers, Jenna demonstrates language delays in speaking and writing specific to syntax . Based on the second and third grade common core standard (ELA-LITERACY.L.2.1.D , ELA-LITERACY.L.3.1.B), same aged peers are required to use the past tense forms of frequently occurring irregular verbs (e.g., sat, hid, told). Jenna continues to require direct instruction at this time.”

Do not write goals to meet the CCSS. Instead use them as the reference for educational norms. Obviously the ELA standards are most directly aligned to our scope of practice. The math standards contain a lot of language that may require our support. In the second grade math standards it states, “Students describe and analyze shapes by examining their sides and angles. Students investigate, describe, and reason about decomposing and combining shapes to make other shapes.” The ability to compare/contrast and use vocabulary to describe is often an area where SLPs can give support. 

If you’ve seen the news in the last year you know there is a lot of controversy over the CCSS.  I think someone above us in educational politics/supervisory boards will always  be dictating standards. By using them as a reference combined with developmental norms, we can effectively align with the standards while not make them the focus of our therapy. 

Resources:ASHA has a resource page developed for the CCSS.  The Website for the CCSS gives information plus you have the opportunity to pull the standards up online.

Several of my friends have Common Core Themed items to make your life simpler. You can head to Teachers Pay Teachers and search “Common Core Speech Therapy.”



The SLP 101 series covers topics for school based therapists. Check out these other SLP 101 Topics:

Getting Started in the Schools   ::   Learning Targets ::   Working Folders  ::  Scheduling ::  Welcome Letter, Attendance, Billing ::  Interviewing :: Salaries ::


Lovely comments

  1. 3

    Jannike Johnsen says

    I also thank you for saying reference, not goal. There were no K-12 educators, nor early childhood or special education experts involved in writing them. In fact, many of the standards at the k-2 level are developmentally inappropriate. If only used as a reference, it’s easier to avoid those, and not get caught up in the standards as the cure for everything.

  2. 4


    Great post! I, too, appreciate you talking about using the CCSC as a reference but not as goals. I downloaded a free app called Common Core Standards by MasteryConnect on my iPad. I’m not sure if you’ve used this or not, but I find that it is much easier for me to use than the website :) Just another tool to use!

  3. 5

    Lisa says

    Thanks for the post, Jenna! This is my first year in the schools so I was a bit overwhelmed by “teacher” training and talk of CCSS. I am interested in the ASHA link, but it did not work. Would you mind posting it again? Best of luck with the start of your school year!

  4. 7

    Andrea says

    Great resource per usual.

    Unfortunately, at my district training we were told explicitly to integrate CCSS language/guidelines into goals. I work in high school, so many of my kids are several years behind achieving what the standards describe. Blegh.

  5. 8

    Jerin says

    Hello! I started my career in adult neuro but am transitioning to peds/school-based. I live in Indiana, which is a state that doesn’t follow the CCSS. I’m trying to develop my own system of using IN’s standards as a reference, but have hit some questions and I wondered if you’d have any insight. For example, I have a 5;10 y.o. who obtained a scaled score of 4 on the Word Structure subtest of the CELF-5. I looked at the specific grammatical structures he had difficulty with and then I tried to reference the standards to see if at his age they are appropriate targets. I assumed they would be, since a scaled score of 7 or below is below average and as I mentioned he got a 4. Well, the only standards that mention anything about grammar are the writing ones, and they put his areas of difficulty as a 2nd grade standard. Indiana’s speaking and listening standards mention nothing about grammar usage!? Here are my questions: 1. Is that how the CCSS are also? If so, how do you approach that, and if not, do you have any advice? 2. Do you find that tests often indicate below average skills but then when referencing the standards there is a discrepancy?

    I hope you don’t mind me coming to you for advice. Your blog and TPT products are AMAZING and I’m currently at a job where I’m the only SLP, and all my speechie friends happen to be medical-based or in clinics.

    • 9

      adminSRN says

      Developmental levels and understanding and explaining the skill are different. For example 2 years old can use pronouns (he, she, they) but they can’t explain WHY they use which pronoun. So you need to look at both developmental language skill and the school age learning target! Does that make sense? Email me if you need more help. Jenna

  6. 11


    Great way to explain it. I think this can be helpful for both SLPs and special education teachers writing IEPs. In general it seems like people are overthinking things relating to CCSS. We don’t need a complete overhaul of the way we write goals-we just need to have the grade level expectation in mind when we’re planning therapy goals. Language skills are needed to achieve so many of the CCSS, that it isn’t that difficult to indicate how your IEP goals are “aligned” with them.

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