New Documents Reflect Expansion in Schools Practices In response to dramatic changes in school-based practice, ASHA has developed a new position statement and professional issues statement on the roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists in schools. The brief position statement highlights the reasons for the new documents and points to the substantive professional issues statement. These companion ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   August 01, 2010
New Documents Reflect Expansion in Schools Practices
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.
    Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   August 01, 2010
New Documents Reflect Expansion in Schools Practices
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 7. doi:10.1044/leader.AN2.15092010.7
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 7. doi:10.1044/leader.AN2.15092010.7
In response to dramatic changes in school-based practice, ASHA has developed a new position statement and professional issues statement on the roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists in schools.
The brief position statement highlights the reasons for the new documents and points to the substantive professional issues statement. These companion documents replace Guidelines on the Roles and Responsibilities of the School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists, approved in 2000.
“School-based speech-language pathology is at a crossroads,” said Barbara Ehren, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Roles and Responsibilities of the School-Based SLP. “SLPs seek to contribute significantly to the success of children and adolescents in schools as ever-increasing demands are placed on them with an expanded scope of practice.”
Three factors in school-based practice provided the impetus and rationale for the new documents—educational reform, substantive changes in legal mandates, and evolving professional practices. The documents also provide an overview of the widespread educational reform efforts to promote literacy, address persistent gaps in achievement among students, and reduce dropout rates, and the pressure on educators to improve outcomes for all students.
“There is a need for our country to produce a literate citizenry that is driving education today, and SLPs have to participate in that effort,” Ehren said.
Within the changing educational context, the professional issues statement highlights critical roles for SLPs in education and the need for clinicians to become key players in school reform efforts. It also focuses on the range of responsibilities involved in school practice and calls on SLPs to exert professional leadership and to collaborate with other school professionals, universities, the community, families, and students.
The document offers a chronology of key legal mandates that have expanded the population of students served, increased the demand for accountability for student performance, and expanded parent involvement. SLPs can comply with these mandates through leadership, collaboration, and their roles and responsibilities in the schools.
Areas of Expansion
Six practice areas have significantly expanded in the last decade for school-based SLPs: treatment of students who are medically fragile; dysphagia treatment; reading, writing, and curriculum; evidence-based practice; response to intervention; and telepractice. According to the professional issues statement, SLPs’ broader roles carry the need for serious reflection in selecting students to receive services, consistent with legal requirements and the use of alternative service delivery models.
“We encourage SLPs to take a look at what they’re doing in relation to the document and how roles and responsibilities may need to be realigned,” Ehren said. “We want SLPs to know that we are not suggesting that they add to their already heavy workloads but rather make judicious decisions about priorities. These documents also mean a change in professional preparation. Academic programs must take a look at the pre-service curriculum that is needed to fulfill these roles.”
The new documents stress lifelong learning and Ehrennoted that “SLPs should look at the documents relative to their professional development.” An extensive reference list supports the documents and serves as a resource. The roles and responsibilities described also tie into many other ASHA policy documents, including Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists With Respect to Reading and Writing in Children and Adolescents, which are listed in the appendix.
Seeking Input
The ad hoc committee began developing the documents in 2007, and sought input from members throughout the process, Ehren said. “We received feedback and input that shaped the document through interactive presentations at various meetings, such as the Schools Conference and ASHA Convention.”
The documents apply to all SLPs who are employed in schools, a group that comprises more than half of all SLPs who belong to ASHA, Ehren said. “We hope these documents are an essential reference tool and resource, and that members will let us know what help they may need in incorporating them into their practice.”
Members of the committee will continue as volunteers to prepare supporting materials that offer guidance to school-based SLPs in implementing the documents. Committee members prepared a poster session for the ASHA Schools conference last month and the ASHA convention in November. SLPs can distribute the poster-session handout to administrators in their states. The committee plans to develop a PowerPoint presentation to help SLPs explain their roles and responsibilities to others and an executive summary for administrators.
The professional issues statement is available in ASHA’s Practice Policy documents as is the position statement. A full list of committee members is available at The ASHA Leader Online.
Roles and Responsibilities Highlights

The new document is driven by educational reform, legal mandates, and evolving professional practices:

  • SLPs have integral roles in education and are essential members of school faculties.

  • SLPs must work across all levels, serve a range of disorders, ensure educational relevance, offer unique contributions to the curriculum, highlight language and literacy, and provide culturally responsive services.

  • SLPs have a range of responsibilities including prevention, assessment, intervention, program design, data collection and analysis, and compliance.

  • To meet students’ needs, SLPs collaborate with other school professionals, universities, members of the community, families, and students.

  • SLPs provide leadership through advocacy, supervision and mentorship, professional development, parent training, and research.

  • Implementing these roles and responsibilities requires realignment of workload priorities, reasonable workloads, professional preparation, and lifelong learning.

Spread the Word

School-based SLPs can help educate administrators, faculty, parents, and the community about their roles and responsibilities in several ways:

  • Provide a hard copy or web link to the documents to key stakeholders.

  • Provide an overview at a district professional development activity.

  • Provide an overview at a faculty meeting.

  • Post a blurb with a link on your school website.

  • Talk with your local university about how it prepares SLPs for these roles.

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August 2010
Volume 15, Issue 9