ASHA Board of Directors Ignores School Practice

In prior posts we have said the ASHA Board of Directors neglects school speech-language pathology as to long-term programs (e.g., collaboration) and curriculum (phonology). To investigate further, 2013 BOD records were examined to identify directional patterns of administrative activity. ( When BOD members meet, do they deliberate on school issues, or do they dwell on other topics? How important is school practice to board members? Does the BOD make sure graduate students are educated for school service?

Board Meetings

In 2013, BOD members (16) met for five meetings (January, March, June, July and October). Agenda items were organized by the President and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The board approved their responsibilities for addressing ASHA business:

“The Board’s responsibilities are broken into four areas: planning, operations, audit, and communications. After considering some suggestions for adding clarifying language to the procedures, the Board agreed that the document effectively captures the Board’s operating methods and procedures for working with the National Office staff.”

Board Actions

A total of 82 actions (resolutions, motions) were studied. The Board voted positively 81 times. Ninety percent of the votes were unanimous. A motion on behalf of the American Academy of Audiology was voted down 0-15. Twice two negative votes were cast.

The analysis indicated seven types of administrative activity consistent with Board responsibilities. They are presented in rank order of occurrence.
Committees (council, board) (20)– E.g. health care economics
Appointments (14)– E.g. pioneer network
ASHA Policy (13)–E.g. operational guidelines
Awards (12)–E.g. association honors
Funding (9)–E.g. travel expenses
Affiliations (8)–E.g. craniofacial association
Practice (6)–E.g. study evidence-based practice

Approved were funding proposals, professional affiliations, awards, appointments, practices and policy initiatives. Board members approved several committee, board and council actions (n=20). Practice items were the fewest in number (n=6).

Speech-language pathology was mentioned 34 times and Audiology 10. There was one incidental mention of “school based” speech-language pathology. There were no mentions of service delivery models, caseload problems, school SLP satisfaction, reading, RTI, encroachment, preschool, paperwork, scope of practice demands.

The CAA is responsible for curriculum standards. There was one action appointing two people to the council.

Practice Decisions

Seven percent of the business items related to general SLP professional practice. Decisions made were at the operational level. The word “curriculum” was never used. There were incidental mentions of traditional clinical categories:
Swallowing (1)
Stuttering (1)
Voice (1)
Aphasia (1)
Cleft Palate (1)
Autism (0)
Language (0)
articulation (0)
Augmentative Communication (0)
Response to Intervention (0)

Two Board projects were approved.

First, a vote was cast to support the Practice Resource Project Portal. However, the Portal is non-binding and not for school SLP practice per se.

Second,BOD members voted unanimously for a special committee to provide planning input to ASHA on school matters:

“RESOLVED, That the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) establish, for a 2-year period, the Speech-Language Pathology School Issues ad hoc committee, charged to provide leadership, guidance, and strategic planning in developing, recommending, implementing, and reviewing ASHA policies, procedures, programs, and resources relative to speech-language pathology practice in k-12 schools…”


We asked whether the ASHA Directors at their yearly meetings address school issues and curriculum needs. The answer is no. The Board restricts its work to ASHA operational concerns. It does not address issues of academic and accreditation systems where curriculum is a central component. It’s scope is narrow and voting perfunctory.

Puzzling is why the Board restricts its deliberations to operational business. By so doing, it effectively abdicates its responsibility to the membership. The BYLAWS clearly demand far-ranging oversight of all ASHA affairs.

June, 2015

Changes in governance dating back to 2007 were meant to make ASHA a more responsive and efficient organization.  This post suggests this  has not come to pass, and if anything decision-making is more confusing than ever.  It was supposed to be different:

The move to one governing body streamlines decision-making and allows the new BOD more time to gather member input and respond more quickly to member needs. With more time, the board can engage in extended consideration of high-priority issues and gain deeper understanding, which more likely will result in effective decisions. There will also be greater accountability for decisions—an important factor in this era of heightened scrutiny and transparency. A strong emphasis also will be placed on ensuring that qualified members are nominated and elected to the BOD.

Marat Moore
The ASHA Leader, July 2007, Vol. 12, 16-30. doi:10.1044/leader.AN4.12092007.16

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