Prevention: SLPs Must Screen Out Non-Disabled Pupils

During college SLPs learn about cultural and linguistic differences.  Yet SLPs are still mis-placing non-disabled children.  

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has published a school position statement on the Role of Speech-Language Pathologists:

Providing Culturally Competent Services.  With the ever-increasing diversity in the schools, SLPs make important contributions to ensure that all students receive quality, culturally competent services. SLPs have the expertise to distinguish a language disorder from “something else.” That “something else” might include cultural and linguistic differences, socioeconomic factors, lack of adequate prior instruction, and the process of acquiring the dialect of English used in the schools. This expertise leads to more accurate and appropriate identification of student needs. SLPs can also address the impact of language differences and second language acquisition on student learning and provide assistance to teachers in promoting educational growth.”

The implications of …”more accurate and appropriate identification of student needs…are not spelled out, when they are critical for reducing the misplacement of non-disabled children. Evidence adduced in this blog indicates non-disabled minority children continue to be over-placed.  The rationale for action is found in States Monitor School Disproportionality:

Posny summarized the problem: “Excerpts from findings in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004′s statute note that: (1) greater efforts are needed to prevent the intensification of problems connected with mislabeling minority children with disabilities; (2) African-American children are identified as having mental retardation and emotional disturbance at rates greater than their white counterparts; (3) more minority children continue to be served in special education than would be expected from the percentage of minority students in the general school population; (4) in the 1998-1999 school year, African-American children represented 14.8% of the population aged 6 through 21, yet comprised 20.2% of all children with disabilities served in our schools; and (5) studies have found that schools with predominately white students and teachers have placed disproportionately high numbers of their minority students into special education.”

Matthew Deninger’s data (cf. School Speech Therapy, Pull Out, and LRE) indicated SLPs display a tendency to over-place a disproportionate number of black children in the SLI category.  Our other posts reinforce the fact that SLPs are inclined to over-place minority children — Native Americans, black children and Hispanics.

School speech therapists are not alone in misidentifying at-risk children. It is a widespread problem among related services personnel and special educators.

There are three reasons for preventing the misplacement of non-disabled children displaying cultural and linguistic differences: 

It is NOT Best Practice.

It is NOT Ethical.

It is NOT Legal.

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