12. SLP Eligibility Management: Data

Managing SLP Exits                                                                                       

Aggregate data are a must for caseload management.  

On the one hand, each and every eligibility determination must be made on an individual basis. That’s the right way. Data must be collected and the eligibility criteria considered.  The IEP paperwork should be checked for guarantees on ethnic and linguistic background.  For learning disability, each team member can vote no as recorded on the IEP forms. In all cases, the academic performance criterion should be weighed against disability criteria. 


On the other hand, you can’t see the forest from the trees unless you also have lots of data for your caseload and desirably from your school district. For example, if your caseload is chock full of Hispanic pupils with limited English, you must discipline yourself to see the issue in particular cases. You might have to say: “This is a child with limited English and communication skills but it is not a disabled child.” Administrators do not like to hear it because this statement implies the school is not providing adequate catch-up support of limited English children. A teacher might demand help because there is an apparent need. For a teacher it is only a practical matter.

A clown on mainstreet.


Here is an early post illustrating how one might study a caseload patterns on the exit side.


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. 


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.




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.”




Here is an excellent original piece by Mary Steppling, Patricia Quattlebaum, Debbie E. Brady (2007). Toward a Discussion of Issues Associated With Speech—Language Pathologists’ Dismissal Practices in Public School Settings, Communication Disorders Quarterly. vol. 28 no. 3 179-187.



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