Education Strategy Omits Audiologists, SLPs ASHA supports the goals of the U.S. Department of Education’s draft strategic plan for fiscal years 2011–2014, but has expressed its disappointment and concern with the omission of speech-language pathologists and educational audiologists from those goals. The Department of Education (ED) plan, released in mid-January, contains six goals: The draft ... School Matters
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School Matters  |   March 01, 2012
Education Strategy Omits Audiologists, SLPs
Author Notes
  • Catherine Clarke, director of education and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at cclarke@asha.org.
    Catherine Clarke, director of education and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at cclarke@asha.org.×
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / School Matters
School Matters   |   March 01, 2012
Education Strategy Omits Audiologists, SLPs
The ASHA Leader, March 2012, Vol. 17, 11. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.17032012.11
The ASHA Leader, March 2012, Vol. 17, 11. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.17032012.11
ASHA supports the goals of the U.S. Department of Education’s draft strategic plan for fiscal years 2011–2014, but has expressed its disappointment and concern with the omission of speech-language pathologists and educational audiologists from those goals.
The Department of Education (ED) plan, released in mid-January, contains six goals:
  • To increase college access, quality, and completion by improving postsecondary education, career-technical education, and adult education.

  • To increase the number of students who are college- and career-ready by improving classroom instruction and rigorous academic standards while providing support services.

  • To improve early learning through effective services addressing health, social, emotional, and cognitive outcomes for high-need children from birth to third grade.

  • To improve the use of data, research, evaluation, transparency, innovation, and technology.

  • To continue to provide an equitable education to all students.

  • To increase and improve the ED’s organizational capacity to address and implement the plan.

The draft delineates three areas of focus: emphasis on early learning, commitment to college-readiness for all high school graduates, and supports to students to ensure they complete postsecondary education with a degree or certificate.
In response to ED’s request for comments on the plan, ASHA focused on the identification of appropriate service providers, as well as education funding and data collection.
Identifying Professionals
ASHA recommends that “related services professionals” be identified within the strategic plan and afforded all opportunities allowed to educators.
Based on federal data for students ages 6 to 21 (2010 Individuals With Disabilities Education Act [IDEA] Child Count), speech, language, and hearing impairments make up the second-largest disability category (the first is specific learning disabilities); ASHA feels strongly, therefore, that SLPs and educational audiologists should be explicitly mentioned, where appropriate, in ED’s national outcome goals.
In addition, because students with disabilities may make more than a year’s growth but still be below grade level or may show small degrees of progress, ASHA recommends implementation of growth models designed to capture incremental changes in performance.
Educators are faced with ensuring that all students demonstrate proficiency in core academic areas, but achieving that goal has proven difficult for those who teach children with disabilities, according to the “2011 Summer EDFacts State Trends Profiles.” That report shows that relatively small percentages of children with disabilities performed in the proficient range across grades and subject areas tested.
Given the variety of needs of children in this category, ASHA commented that the Strategic Plan should emphasize the importance of professional development for teachers and pupil- and related-service providers—especially SLPs—who instruct children with disabilities and should emphasize the importance of integrating effective resources for supporting teaching and learning for those children.
Funding
ASHA recommends that ED work with Congress to increase funding for education laws, particularly the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and other initiatives.
Apart from the one-time increase in education funding of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, administration funding requests and congressionally appropriated funding for IDEA and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind) have remained flat. ASHA believes it is unrealistic to expect state and local education agencies and their employees to continue to deliver the same or improved quality and intensity of services without more funds.
Data Collection
Data-based information is a key component of the goals and subgoals of the strategic plan. Given the strained state budgets throughout the nation, ASHA believes the federal government should provide ongoing funding to help states manage and use national data systems, thereby enhancing data tracking and the capacity to share key information within and among states.
IDEA Part C Issue Briefs

To help members implement the final 2011 regulations of Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ASHA has prepared issue briefs on select topics.

ASHA identified selected issues in the regulations, which govern the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, critical to audiology and speech-language pathology services (The ASHA Leader, Nov. 22, 2011). These issues include personnel qualifications, transition, referral timelines, service coordination, and definitions of a number of terms.

The briefs focus on service coordination, personnel, transition, referral timelines, and natural environment.

Each brief includes a bulleted list of the major changes in each topic area, the implications of these changes for ASHA members, and specific actions members can take.

ASHA will continue to develop and release additional technical assistance materials, including issue briefs on other topics.

For specific information and to comment on the regulations, contact Catherine Clarke, director of education and regulatory advocacy, at cclarke@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5611. For practice-related IDEA Part C issues or concerns, contact Diane Paul, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology, at dpaul@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5688.

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March 2012
Volume 17, Issue 3