3. RTI and Speech Pathology

Review of recent posts provides a snapshot of local school efforts to start up Response To Intervention.  Over half of U. S. school districts have started programs but there is great variation according to stage of development, design and who does what.

SLPs, curriculum directors, reading specialists, and school psychologists are not in the picture.  General education dominates.  Building principals are often mentioned as organizers more than special education directors are.  School boards appear to have an increasing role in approving RTI programs, and funding in the last two years has become a larger problem.

The focus of most RTI programs is reading, and reports indicate good success.  Some programs indicate a desire to prevent needless special education placements.

There is no evidence related services personnel are considered key players in RTI.  However, their contributions are implied throughout discussions of the three-tier RTI model.  As RTI programs grow in number and size, SLPs will be obliged to participate with or without adequate preparation and motivation. 

Since the late 1990s, advocates, often academics, have said school SLPs should to be responsible for literacy intervention, even with high caseloads and limited backgrounds.   Advocacy has not translated into organizational action to help school SLPs prepare to take on literacy on a large scale.  The experience parallels the 1970s when academics argued for language assessment and intervention without a well-laid foundation for change.  Input from working school SLPs is always a lacuna.

Nor has advocacy been potent enough to reach and convince school personnel of the pivotal role SLPs can play.   SLPs are left to advocate for themselves while believing other specialists “encroach” upon their scope of practice.  

Leadership at the highest levels of the profession is needed to build curricular foundations for school SLP role participation in RTI.  More collaboration with working school SLPs is needed to determine what exactly is required.  Role responsibility statements should be grounded firmly in workplace realities prior to publication.

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