The “New Role” of the School Speech-Language Pathologist!

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association ( represents school speech-langauge pathologists in the formulation of public policy among other things. It has now published  an update of “Roles and Responsibilities of the Speech-Language Pathologist in Schools (2010).”  At first glance, it appears to be a transition document.  It moves beyond the outdated year 2000 version, and points toward future role changes on the horizon.  It encapsulates, therefore, an important moment in the history of the field.  It is recommended reading. 

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The 2000 version represented the more traditional school SLP role.  SLP graduates in their 30s are working by the recommendations of the 2000 document.  New graduates are facing school practice as outlined by the 2010 version.  They will take it in stride, whereas older SLPs will see it as a change in direction.  Older graduates will consider the new role in terms of demanding caseloads and just more to do.  Growing demands and high caseloads are issues for older SLPs.  Yet they must be more nimble than ever.

An Ad Hoc Committee of nine contributors developed the Roles document.  An impressive list of documents and articles was studied, and working SLPs gave ideas.  A picture is shown of the group working productively on conceptual charts.  The group came up with a poster expressing key points of the Roles policy.  Educational reform has put school speech-language pathology at the crossroads.

May, 2014

Our recent posts on ASHA curriculum processes show the Association is unresponsive to school issues and trends. The problem dates back to 1975 and further. ASHA officials resisted language practice. Curriculum development for graduate education came to be represented by continuing education programming.

The future depends on whether the Board of Directors can shake off the past and move forward. The ASHA president according to the bylaws is the proper authority figure. Presidents have been able to accomplish very little for school speech pathology. Some key issues have continued for 30 to 40 years. Accountability is needed.

John Panagos

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