Nevada Embraces PACE When a state law required a new performance system for school-based SLPs, collaborators turned to ASHA’s rubric for guidance. State of Success
State of Success  |   December 01, 2017
Nevada Embraces PACE
Author Notes
  • Carol Polovoy is managing editor of The ASHA Leader.
    Carol Polovoy is managing editor of The ASHA Leader.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / School-Based Settings / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / State of Success
State of Success   |   December 01, 2017
Nevada Embraces PACE
The ASHA Leader, December 2017, Vol. 22, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.SOS.22122017.44
The ASHA Leader, December 2017, Vol. 22, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.SOS.22122017.44
Nevada school-based speech-language pathologists are testing a new statewide performance evaluation system this year that is based on ASHA’s Performance Assessment of Contributions and Effectiveness of Speech-Language Pathologists (PACE) matrix. They plan to fully implement the new system in 2018–2019.
The PACE-based evaluation system encompasses SLPs’ practice and responsibilities in their unique settings and given caseloads, and was developed with input from the Nevada Speech-Language Hearing Association (NSHA) and other stakeholders.
The successful effort to bring PACE to Nevada schools was the result of two forces: a state law mandating appropriate performance evaluation tools for each non-teacher educational profession, and a coalition of SLPs that pushed to design the SLPs’ performance evaluation based on ASHA standards.
The state law came in the wake of the Race to the Top program, a federal competitive grant designed to encourage innovation and reform. The grant application required states to develop and adopt a new performance evaluation tool for all educators. Although Nevada did not receive a grant, legislators still passed a 2011 law requiring the state’s board of education to establish a statewide educator evaluation system.
Two subsequent statutes—one that set goals for the new system, known as the Nevada Educator Performance Framework, and one that mandated evaluation systems for school personnel who are not teachers—affected the development of a performance evaluation system specific to SLPs.
First step: Advisory group
To develop evaluations for “other licensed education personnel” (OLEP), a category that includes SLPs, the Nevada Department of Education gathered representatives from the OLEP groups to form an advisory group to:
  • Modify the Nevada Educator Performance Framework instructional practices and professional responsibilities rubrics for each OLEP group.

  • Determine how to weight the three components of the framework—instruction, professional responsibilities and student performance—for each OLEP profession.

  • Make recommendations regarding OLEP-specific evaluations.

Each of the OLEP professions then worked throughout 2014 and 2015 to align the standards of the new Nevada framework with their own professional guidance and practice documents.
Who was going to develop an evaluation system for SLPs? The state education department’s Office of Educator Development and Support asked NSHA to take on the task of developing the SLP framework. The NSHA Coalition to Address Personnel Shortages, SLPs from around the state, and representatives from the Office of Educator Development and Support joined to form a collaborative work team that researched different state models and professional standards.
“The Office of Educator Development and Support was a part of the process from the get-go,” says Nancy Kuhles, co-chair of the NSHA Coalition. “They recognized that although certain OLEP responsibilities may overlap with that of classroom teachers, the evaluation tools designed for teachers might not reflect the many unique roles and responsibilities of OLEPs. They also realized that evaluation measures must be designed to evaluate the performance across a variety of settings and in many roles.”
Throughout 2014 and 2015, the work group reviewed the PACE and ASHA guidance documents and identified elements reflected in the Nevada framework’s standards shown to affect student learning (called “high-leverage” practices). The goal was to ensure student success in learning; document and support the effectiveness of SLPs’ roles and responsibilities in high-leverage practices; and support SLPs’ effectiveness in supporting students, educators and the school community.
In testimony to the Teachers and Leaders Council, the group requested that ASHA national standards aligned with the new framework serve as the foundation for SLPs’ performance evaluation. The council agreed, as did the State Board of Education and the Nevada Department of Education, and the group began working to develop a performance evaluation system based on the PACE matrix.

Student performance is not a separate domain within the framework; instead, evidence of an SLP’s ability to support student learning is embedded within the standards and indicators.

New tool
The new SLP evaluation tool needed to align with the existing framework. But, Kuhles says, the rubrics also needed to be flexible; focus on SLPs’ work in schools and on their unique working environment; reflect SLPs’ unique responsibilities and their value and contributions to the school community; and reflect student-centered services, educationally relevant services and evidence-based practice.
The Nevada tool includes five professional practice standards and five professional responsibilities standards that mirror those in the PACE. However, the Nevada “indicators” for each standard—18 for professional practice and 13 for professional responsibilities—differ from what PACE describes as “evidence.”
The five professional practice standards include demonstration of knowledge and skills, provision of culturally and educationally appropriate services, serving on IEP teams, conducting evaluations, and using appropriate service-delivery methods.
The five professional responsibilities standards include collaborating with teachers and other professionals to serve special- and general-education students, collaborating with families, earning continuing education credits, complying with federal, state, district and department initiatives, and managing the program.
Each set of standards is weighted equally. Student performance is not a separate domain within the framework; instead, evidence of an SLP’s ability to support student learning is embedded within the standards and indicators.
The Teachers and Leaders Council and State Board of Education approved the SLP rubrics (and those of four other OLEP rubrics based on the groups’ respective national standards).
Pilot and data collection
The 2017–2018 voluntary pilot of the evaluation (for SLPs with a caseload) will allow SLPs and their evaluators to try the framework and determine if:
  • The tool reflects the role of SLPs.

  • The tool reflects best practices.

  • The standards and indicators align with expectations of the ASHA guidance documents.

  • The lists of evidence sources for determining compliance with professional practice and professional responsibilities are fair.

  • Performance levels are effectively differentiated for each indicator.

Throughout the pilot year, participants provide feedback on the SLP evaluation system through surveys and/or focus groups. Informational and interactive webinars guide SLPs on the tool itself and address participants’ questions.
After the pilot period ends, a data review process that includes stakeholder conferences and a public workshop will determine if the evaluation tool meets the expected outcomes. In June, the rubrics will be presented to the State Board of Education for approval.

Editor’s note: The “State of Success” column debuts with this issue of the Leader. It features stories of state-level programmatic and advocacy successes that enhance the work of audiologists and speech-language pathologists, increase access to services for communication disorders, or otherwise positively affect the professional lives of ASHA members in that state.

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December 2017
Volume 22, Issue 12