One of the best things about being a speech-language pathologist is the variety of work settings to choose from. Holding the CCC affords SLPs the flexibility to carve out a niche many settings such as schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities; private practice, academia and corporate. You can reinvent yourself just by changing where you work.
As an SLP who has worked in many settings. I can attest to the value of change and honing new skills. However, change is always easier when you’re equipped with the right information.
If you’re making a change to schools, here are 10 things to know to help you get started:
- The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law and regulations govern special education and related services to all children with disabilities. This includes children with speech and communication disorders. It is important to understand the law and regulations in order to follow the special education process in schools.
- IDEA requires that all students who receive special education have an Individual Education Program or IEP. The IEP is the blueprint for the services that each child receives and should include a statement of the child’s present level of performance, measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals that will help the child to benefit from the educational curriculum.
- It’s important to know that there are qualifications for eligibility for speech language services in schools. Check with your local district or state for guidelines outlining eligibility criteria for speech-language services.
- Service delivery in schools is typically conducted through individual or small group sessions, and/or in collaboration with teachers and other education professionals. Tracking goals and collecting data for multiple students in one session is accomplished with preplanning and organization. It is important to develop a method of tracking data for each student goal in order to report progress throughout the year.
- The average student Caseload across the country is 47 according the 2012 Schools Survey. That number will fluctuate throughout the school year. Scheduling and service delivery are key to managing your caseload.
- Response to Intervention (RTI) is a process in which struggling students are provided with alternative interventions in areas of need to determine if their performance is due learning difficulties or faulty instruction. Some schools fully embrace the RTI model while others do not. IDEA allows for RTI but does not require it. SLPs often play a role in the RTI process in their schools.
- The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states thus far and is an initiative to prepare students for college programs or to enter the workforce. The standards include the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics. SLPs should be familiar with the standards in their state to develop IEP goals that complement and integrate the Common Core curriculum for the students they serve.
- Speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) typically work in the school setting under the supervision of an SLP. The scope of practice for an SLPA is narrower than that of an SLP and is designed to support, not supplant the work of the SLP. ASHA recommends that SLPs supervise no more than 2 SLPAs at a time.
- SLPs in schools may be subject to state teacher requirements. ASHA’s state by state webpage outlines teaching requirements from each state across the country. Learn in advance what you’ll need to work in the public schools in your state.
- Salaries in schools vary widely across the country. ASHA’s 2012 School Survey provides salary data for public school SLPs in every state. Opportunities to earn additional income may be available by working in after school and summer school programs. Salary supplements may be available to SLPs who hold CCC credential. Schools also offer excellent retirement plans, health benefits and favorable schedules. Read more about the rewards of working in schools.
Of course, there’s much more to school based practice than just these 10 points, but it’s a start. ASHA is committed to serving school-based SLPs by offering clinical and professional resources as well as professional development opportunities. One of the most popular professional development events is ASHA’s annual Schools Conference. The Conference features the best speakers in the field on a variety of topics. In fact, early bird registration is open now!
These resources and opportunities for learning will help to make your transition to schools a smooth one. If you’d like to connect with us about school based practice, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Lisa Rai Mabry-Price, MS, CCC-SLP, is the associate director of School Services for ASHA. email@example.com.