Beyond School Caseloads Looking at Total Workload School Matters
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School Matters  |   April 01, 2003
Beyond School Caseloads
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School-Based Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / School Matters
School Matters   |   April 01, 2003
Beyond School Caseloads
The ASHA Leader, April 2003, Vol. 8, 1-12. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.08072003.1
The ASHA Leader, April 2003, Vol. 8, 1-12. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.08072003.1
Like a juggler who is thrown more and more balls to keep in the air, the school-based clinician must manage a growing array of responsibilities: IDEA and Medicaid paperwork, IEP meetings, more linguistically and culturally diverse students, and more medically fragile students, to mention a few.
To help members assess their caseloads in terms of total workload, ASHA introduced a new policy last year and is rolling out resources to help speech-language pathologists implement the concept. In addition, a “Workload Cadre” of ASHA members is available to train others about total workload analysis and how to use it to improve working conditions in the schools.
“What impresses me about the workload concept is how it accounts for the full range of responsibilities that we assume for each individual that we serve,” says Nancy Alarcon, an SLP from Washington who is now a member of the Workload Cadre. “I decided to participate in the cadre to learn more about the power of workload analysis and to help get this incredible tool out to colleagues.”
Three ASHA policy documents—a technical report, position statement, and guidelines on “A Workload Analysis Approach for Establishing Speech-Language Caseload Standards in the Schools”—provide the basis of this conceptual shift in how school-based clinicians can view their caseloads. The development of the policy documents by the Ad Hoc Committee on Caseload Size and the establishment of the Workload Cadre are part of ASHA’s focused initiative on school-based programs and services.
A Tool for Change
The caseload/workload initiative is designed to help clinicians advocate for more manageable caseloads and adequate, appropriate services for children. The policy documents provide a framework for how total workload activities—direct services, as well as related support and professional activities—can be taken into account when setting caseload standards at the state and local levels.
In the past, ASHA recommended a maximum number for caseloads, but that did not curb the rise in caseload size. Many states and districts interpreted the maximum as a minimum—and kept increasing caseloads until many clinicians were at a breaking point. The total workload approach more fully recognizes the SLP’s wide range of clinical roles and responsibilities, as well as the intensity of services.
The new guidelines divide the school-based SLP’s workload into four activity clusters:
  • direct services to students

  • indirect activities that support students in the least restrictive environment and the general education curriculum

  • indirect services that support students’ educational programs

  • activities that support compliance with federal, state, and local mandates

After sorting their own activities into this four-quadrant model, many clinicians may find that while they spend most of their time on direct services, this quadrant actually holds the shortest list of activities.
Conducting such a workload analysis can help clinicians demonstrate the full range of their responsibilities and communicate to decision-makers that enrollment of students into direct intervention increases the workload in all activity clusters.
A Cadre of Colleagues
The members of ASHA’s Workload Cadre are available for presentations at the state and regional level, as well as meetings of allied professionals and other national organizations. The cadre comprises members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Caseload Size, as well as six additional members who were trained at the ASHA National Office last month.
“We created the Workload Cadre in response to high interest and a high volume of requests from members for training on the workload policy,” says committee member Larry Biehl, an Arizona SLP. “The work of ASHA and this committee has the potential to very positively influence change in the delivery of school-based speech-language services, resulting in more effective services to children.”
Members of the ad hoc committee include co-chairs Ann Bird and Frank Cirrin, Biehl, Sally Disney, Ellen Estomin, Judith Rudebusch, Trici Schraeder, and National Office ex officio Kathleen Whitmire. The six additional cadre members are Alarcon, Patricia Iafrate Bellini, Julia Jackson, Ninevah Murray, Jamie Thomas, and Yvana Uranga-Hernandez.
“School SLPs are wonderful, flexible, and creative thinkers. That’s why I wanted to work on this cadre,” says Thomas, an SLP in Texas.
“The workload system will work for those who think outside of the box, and we are very committed to helping our colleagues in the schools.”
Learn More
For more information or to inquire about training opportunities with Workload Cadre members, contact Deborah Adamczyk at dadamczyk@asha.org.
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April 2003
Volume 8, Issue 7