8. SLP Dismissal / Exits

The need for speech, occupational and physical therapists to exit children from special education is given weight by the findings of the NOMS project of the American Speech-Language Association. The project presents information on therapy effectiveness for sounds as a function of caseload size [http://www.asha.org/members/research/NOMS/usingdata.htm].

When the caseload is 40 pupils or less, 87.0% make progress; when it is 60 or more, 63% make progress.

When the caseload is 40 or less, 13% make no progress; when it is 60 or more, 35.1% make no progress.

Children who make no progress toward their annual IEP goals cannot be exited because the disability condition remains. At this rate, 13 children yearly will have to remain in special education. After one year, in this hypothetical example, the caseload will be 73 pupils instead of 60.

After years in speech therapy, it might be possible to say the child should be exited because no progress has been demonstrated. However, this outcome might simply be an artifact of insufficient treatment time resulting from a bourgeoning caseload.

As caseloads rise, job satisfaction drops and “burnout” occurs. Because dismissal is a high-level practice skill, new therapists are especially vulnerable to unwittingly escalating their own caseloads and job dissatisfaction. This is the point at which they ask for more help. It is also the point where they can start exiting more children and quickly.

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