Clinicians Use Workload in Texas Schools School-based speech-language pathologists in Texas face three compelling challenges: caseload management at the school level, the need for consistent statewide eligibility criteria for enrollment in school-based speech-language treatment, and the long-standing shortage of SLPs in Texas public schools. Texas SLPs have used a workload approach to make strides in addressing ... School Matters
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School Matters  |   February 01, 2006
Clinicians Use Workload in Texas Schools
Author Notes
  • Judy Rudebusch, serves as Division Director for Special Services in the Irving Independent School District in Irving, TX. She was on the ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on Caseload in the Schools and helped develop the Workload Approach to Caseload in the Schools. Contact her by e-mail at jrudebusch@irvingisd.net.
    Judy Rudebusch, serves as Division Director for Special Services in the Irving Independent School District in Irving, TX. She was on the ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on Caseload in the Schools and helped develop the Workload Approach to Caseload in the Schools. Contact her by e-mail at jrudebusch@irvingisd.net.×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / School Matters
School Matters   |   February 01, 2006
Clinicians Use Workload in Texas Schools
The ASHA Leader, February 2006, Vol. 11, 1-35. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM1.11022006.1
The ASHA Leader, February 2006, Vol. 11, 1-35. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM1.11022006.1
School-based speech-language pathologists in Texas face three compelling challenges: caseload management at the school level, the need for consistent statewide eligibility criteria for enrollment in school-based speech-language treatment, and the long-standing shortage of SLPs in Texas public schools. Texas SLPs have used a workload approach to make strides in addressing these overlapping issues.
The analysis process outlined in “A Workload Analysis Approach for Establishing Speech-Language Caseload Standards in the Schools: Implementation Guide” (ASHA, 2003) involves gathering information to answer a series of questions: What is the current workload problem? What effect is this problem having on students? What can be done to address the workload issues and provide appropriate services to students? Who can help resolve these issues? What is a reasonable plan of action to address the workload issues? Using this process as a conceptual framework for problem-solving has provided much needed momentum to improve quality of service in Texas public schools.
Since early 2003, the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (TSHA) has committed resources and energy to develop statewide eligibility criteria, examining the benefits of using ASHA’s Workload Approach for caseload management in public schools, and building partnerships to address the myths and realities associated with the shortage of SLPs in public schools. As work on these three priorities gained momentum, TSHA members from each of these three task forces realized that the issues in each area were intertwined; working on solutions in one area contributed to increased capacity for generating solutions in the other areas.
Training efforts continue throughout the state on ASHA’s “Workload Analysis Approach for Establishing Speech-Language Caseload Standards in the Schools” (2002). In Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, Austin, and Forth Worth, SLPs have been focusing on change efforts. Catch phrases such as “balanced workload,” “flexible scheduling,” “services with and on behalf of students,” “3:1 scheduling,” “drill bursts,” “combining service delivery models” and “workload thinking” describe efforts to do our work in schools differently.
Support is strong from special education directors for using a workload approach for caseload management. Texas is divided into 20 regional education service centers. At four of these service centers, special education directors have participated in training on ASHA’s workload approach and the need to re-design speech-language treatment services in schools. The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) invited presentations on the workload analysis approach at their January 2005 and January 2006 mid-winter conferences. The 2005 TSHA Convention program included several presentations on the topic of workload with SLPs sharing workload implementation success stories.
The Texas Education Agency supports efforts to accommodate flexible scheduling for speech treatment in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) by listing minutes of treatment per grading period, rather than the long-standing scheduling approach of “twice a week for 30 minutes.” This flexibility allows the SLP to vary services by week or by month depending upon individual needs of the student.
Moving away from traditional caseload management and toward a balanced workload approach is based on accurate, sensitive, timely identification and diagnosis of students who are eligible for speech services because of a speech, language, or communication impairment that has an adverse effect on the ability to make educational progress. Concurrent with implementation of a workload approach in Texas, TSHA identified the need to develop consistent statewide eligibility criteria for enrollment in speech-language treatment in public schools.
Historically, each school district in Texas has defined its own eligibility criteria. This resulted in the possibility of over-identification of students who have an educational need for speech-language services, and inconsistency across the state in terms of access to these services. There was a lack of effective mechanisms to dismiss students from the speech-language caseloads, and too many “lifers” in speech treatment who had been working on the same type of IEP goals for over a decade. TSHA has a long-range goal to develop eligibility templates in articulation, voice, fluency, and language and, by the year 2008, to train a representative from each school district in Texas on the use of these templates. This TSHA priority for identifying the “right” students for the SLP’s caseload will dramatically increase capacity to use a workload approach in Texas schools.
Texas faces the challenge of persistent unfilled vacancies for school-based SLPs. The TSHA Public School SLP Vacancy Task Force has used a workload approach to problem-solving and has been actively addressing the issue of shortages in the public schools for two years. ASHA has recently awarded TSHA a Focused Initiative Grant to assist in addressing this important issue. In March 2004, the TSHA Task Force invited representatives of TCASE and the State Committee of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology to form a joint committee. This joint committee, with assistance from ASHA, has met regularly over the past two years and has developed short-, mid- and long-range action plans and strategies to address the issue of vacancies in the schools.
Adequate staffing of SLPs in public schools will also dramatically increase capacity for each SLP to use a workload approach in providing high quality speech-language treatment services to children and youth in Texas public schools.
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February 2006
Volume 11, Issue 2