Taking a Look at Speech Pathology Caseloads

Market in Paris.

In a series of useful posts in 2010, school SLPs provide an interesting window into the problems of managing big caseloads (Speaking of Speech). They show SLPs must depend on their directors of special education to help them with having too many pupils to deal with. Their appeals are heard and unheard. They search for “external solutions” (cf. About Us). Strategic Eligibility Management (SES) shifts the focus to Internal solutions, centering around one’s job description as presented. It does not set aside caseload standards and workload analysis. It does not set aside advocacy for size controls. It does focus on managing misidentification of at-risk children, pre-intervention programs, and efficient intake/dismissal procedures.

It is unfortunate that advocated workload policies place the locus of control in the hands of educational administrators.

One post is invaluable in showing how persistence is important:

Jan: “Yes, I agree w/ Fran in urging you to do a workload break down w/ help from ASHA’s info. Our grp of SLPs were also successful (over 2 yrs) in getting our director of SPED to consider this view. We are fortunate that she sees ASHA guidelines as very important. Now at meetings she’ll ask, “What is ASHA’s position on this?” I love it!

She has worked thru a workload approach for all SPED staff. She tries to keep our numbers around 40-45 (60 is limit in IL)….but we all know that students numbers do not present the entire picture. One student may consult, one may have 30 mins, one may have 120! I inherited a student from another dist w/ 120 minutes per week of S/L TX. Thank goodness he is doing great here and Mom is amenable to more time IN class with good lang peers than more time pull-out w/ me! Anyhow, that’s our next challenge-to rate students based on severity, etc.”

Here’s the other side of the coin, when the external approaches break down:

Al: “Those of you living in states with caseload limits of 60 are lucky. I live in Ohio and the limit is 80. Why even have one if it is going to be 80? I am lucky that my caseload is around 60 and usually is, however at 60 students in K-12 I am totally overwhelmed. With the caseload limit being as high as it is, I can’t imagine my administrators getting me any help (considering I am 20 under the caseload limit).

I was offered a job before my current one where the caseload was around 80 with mostly students with cognitive disabilities and multi-handicapped diagnoses. I tried explaining to the school administrator that this would be an impossibility but he just didn’t get it. I found out that they went on to hire a new grad. for the position. Yikes.”

It is interesting to see how little the level of discourse has changed in the last several years. The discourse is frozen and repetitive. Here is a small part of an interview conducted in 2005 with Kathleen Whitmire, Ph.D., Director of School Services, ASHA (KathleenWhitmire2):

“Beck: … OK then, moving to the topic of the day…what can you tell me about the rather large “SLP caseloads” in the schools? Many of the SLPs I speak with tell me that is a terrifically significant issue for them.

Whitmire: You’re exactly right. ASHA has collected data from surveys and focus groups for many years on this topic, and ASHA members who work in the schools have consistently indicated that caseload is one of their greatest concerns…”

The issue that SLPs might be a part of the problem if they are not dismissing children promptly or being more critical about which children are placed in special education does not surface in current open conversations.

Speaking of Speech: [http://members4.boardhost.com/monthlyquestion/msg/1264864781.html]

John M. Panagos

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