How Speech & Language IEP Goals Should Align with Common Core Standards

August 8, 2014
Sharon Soliday, CCC-SLP

Huge thanks to administrators that shared our checklist “Common Core and Speech Therapy: How to Guide Your SLP”.

In today’s post I hope to answer one of the most common questions we receive from administrators:

How Should Speech & Language IEP Goals Be Aligned with Common Core Standards?

This is a great question. To answer it, I recommend that administrators read Catherine Crowley’s Leaders Project post (Jan 2014).

I have a great deal of personal respect for Dr. Crowley. In this post, she not only outlines Common Core in relation to speech and language IEP goals, but even provides case studies of students with various challenges for specialists to reference.

So there you have it – how to integrate speech language goals with Common Core standards.

But is this the right question?

Imagine all SLPs in the country master this knowledge, reference common core appropriately (as determined by their district program), and write down the correct information in the boxes provided on the IEP.

Is anything really going to change for the student?

I have the privilege of partnering with some of the best administrators in the country, helping to fill SLP vacancies with high quality talent. After years of conversations about moving students forward, I feel that I’ve honed in on the real question they’re interested in.

How do we make these macro changes relevant to special education and the kids we serve? How do we effect real change within our program to see student growth in general education?

Common Core and general education.

Forty years have passed since the adoption of IDEA. In our relentless passion, commitment and fortitude to help students – we have often forgotten that the mission is really about promoting success in general education.

IEPs are generated to determine what general education should look like for the individual child, given the realities of growth for a year of school.  Everyone’s plan will look different depending on their unique needs.

Which is why I can understand administrators being so desperate to align the IEP process with Common Core standards. After all, this is where we want to see students be successful.

Where paperwork falls short…

The fact is, a student’s IEP may align perfectly with common core – but if not translated into practice for the surrounding team, all of our best efforts will be lost.

If we really want to see student growth in general education, SLPs need to be given permission and responsibility to translate speech and language goals for general education teachers. It simply isn’t reasonable to expect students to make growth in an environment in which the specialist never sets foot.

And so finally, to the question administrators really are asking:

What is high quality speech & language service in relation to the Common Core?

  • SLPs need to be asking questions of teachers regarding the depth of any curriculum topic being used to address Common Core standards.
  • SLPs need to be able to explain and model how speech and language goals fit into lesson plans and expectations.
  • SLPs need to have time to observe different teaching styles with which their students are working.
  • SLPs need allies in their buildings – paraprofessionals and/or teachers interested in learning how speech & language development relate to student progress.
  • SLPs need to be able to collaborate with families, to establish support outside of the classroom and move toward success in the classroom.
  • SLPs need administrators who understand that this takes time and effort, which can’t always be neatly captured in the number of direct minutes per month of service.

Just remember, isolation doesn’t work.

You may not realize it, but there are two distinct enemies of high quality service. They are:

  • SLPs working in isolation. Sure, they might be in the building most days (so that administrators can “check the box” that speech and language needs are being addressed) – but how is service really being delivered?
  • SLPs too busy to be aligned with general education.

So the next time you find yourself asking how to align speech & language IEP goals with Common Core standards – consider whether the real question is how to continue to put kids first – by providing high quality service to students.

Have a question about Common Core standards, or how to ensure high quality service in your district? We’re here to help. Give us a call at (503) 228–2942 or contact us on the web.