Managing SLP Exits

A school speech-language pathologist worked in a middle school on a one-year plan to exit children from special education.  During the year, 26 pupils were in the caseload. One child had a speech-only IEP.  Three children transferred in from other schools, and two of the three transferred out. 

Girl Scouts Marching on Main Street.

Twelve of the 26 children were minority pupils (Hispanic or Native American), and 14 were Caucasian. 

Six of 26 were female students, and 20 were male.

Eleven of the 12 minority students were classified specific learning disability (SLI), whereas four of 14 Caucasian students were classified SLI.  Ten Caucasian pupils were classified as autistic, hearing-impaired, retarded or speech-language impairment (SLI).  One female SLI pupil had a persistent /r/ problem.

Over the year, seven children were exited from speech and language services. Subtracting two who left the district, 17 children remained on the list to continue the following year. The exit rate was 27% for the year.

Of the 17 pupils on the continue list, 13 had been marked for dismissal but could not be dismissed for various reasons:

Parents insisted on continuation (3)

Parents were not phoned personally on time (3)

Parents could not be given timely office notice (3)

Summer IEP meetings were to be held (1)

Exit evaluations were not completed or were inconclusive (3)

Six of the seven exited SLI children were classified as specific learning disability (SLD). 

A list of 10 pupils projected to transfer to the middle school in the next school year included seven minority students with SLD classifications with SLI support.

COMMENT

The study is a microcosm of national issues of special education misidentification.  An emerging one is that females are under-represented in special education programs.  Another is that the learning disability category is over-used and this is where minority pupils are placed for remedial services.  SLP services are added to the SLD placements.

Even with an aggressive aim of reducing SLI and SLD placements in the middle years, many hindrances operate to keep the children in special education.  But without a systematic approach to caseload management, numbers grow and improvement declines. Seeking to exit minorities from the SLP caseload is both an ethical choice and a means of preventing SLP burnout.

The present report demonstrates the value of ethical total caseload management.

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