2. SLP Collaboration

School speech therapists were obliged to accept collaboration with IDEA 1997. At that juncture, they had to support “progress in the general curriculum,” resetting standards for speech and language disability along legal lines. Here is an overview from 2002:

“Contemporary standards-based reforms emphasize that every student must work toward the expectations set for each academic content area. As the mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1997) become fully implemented (ASHA, 1996; ASHA, 1999; Mead, 1999), more school speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will assess students’ abilities to meet curricular demands, design curriculum-based goals and objectives for students, and provide interventions designed to help students meet curricular requirements. This will apply whether the least restrictive environment for therapy is a classroom or a pullout setting” (Goliath).


It’s been 13 years since the general education requirement was set forth explicitly. Still, a good many questions come up:

What data do we have on school SLP collaboration? What percentage of the nation’s school SLPs routinely use collaboration as an intervention? In contrast, how much pull out is used? Are school SLPs setting up collaborative programs on their own, or are they waiting for school administrators to take the lead? Are SLPs trained in collaboration in the university clinic? What research is going on as to effectiveness? Does collaboration produce good results compared to direct intervention? Are annual IEP goals being met through collaboration? What communication goals are being achieved through collaboration? Does collaboration invalidate standard methods of asssessment? Is pull out still seen as the essential service delivery model, or has there been a change in outlook to move out of the therapy room? Are collaborative speech and language methods being replicated on a large scale? Is collaboration a part of the university preservice curriculum? Do state agencies vary in their requirements for SLP collaboration? Are university clinical supervisors teaching it on and off campus? Are SLPs involved in reducing special education over-identification through collaboration? Are they involved in RTI efforts and preschool programs designed to reduce the numbers of at-risk children placed in special education? Do school SLPs collaborate with each other? How do SLPs collaborate for LD prevention, when reading programs are entailed? How is collaboration being used from preschool to high school? Is collaboration saving time and reducing load demands? Is collaboration taking SLPs into general education programs? Are administrators freeing up time for collaboration? Are children receiving services through collaboration dismissed earlier?


Girl Scouts Marching on Main Street.

The impression one gains since 1980 is that we have created “boutique speech pathology.” Publications, commercial catalogs, and workshop experts throw out “exciting possibilities” on a “try- this-and-try-that” basis, as though we are trying to accessorize best practice. “This year try a blue shirt and a pink tie! You’ll like it!” Scope of practice is expanding like an overlarge wardrobe.

At the same time SLPs are admonished in the most serious tones to “follow evidence-based practice,” forsaking fads and invalid methods, and adhering to IDEA standards. The schizophrenia is obvious, and confusing.


Here is what we have to confront:

Collaboration is now best practice, and not just another technique.

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