Caseload/Workload Frequently Asked Questions

What districts have been successful in implementing workload?

Many districts have been successful in implementing various workload initiatives. You will find this information on ASHA'S State and Local Workload Activity (n.d.).

What are the benefits of a workload approach?

  • School districts have reported that reasonable workloads increase retention and recruitment of SLPs as reflected in the success stories described above. See ASHA's State and Local Workload Activity (n.d.).
  • The ability to provide a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) is strengthened within the workload framework, as it identifies and accommodates the wide range of both direct and indirect services necessary to support students with IEPS.
  • A workload approach provides support for the SLP to deliver services using a wide range of dynamic service delivery options to support students and respond to their changing needs (Cirrin et al., 2010).
  • Workload scheduling supports collaboration and consultation efforts, which allows for extended support of speech/language and academic goals by all team members.
  • Workload scheduling facilitates individualization of services, thus providing amount of services driven by the student's ever changing individual needs.
  • Fewer services are cancelled due to meetings, supervision/trainings, etc.

What are the limitations and/or drawbacks of a workload approach?

Funding

  • Given the lack of funding for increased staffing in some school districts, there might be reluctance on the part of administrators to conduct a workload analysis that can potentially highlight the need for more funding and/or additional SLPs.
  • Timing of the workload analyses might expose inadequate staffing issues when budgets are so restricted that districts are unlikely to be able to fund additional positions.

Resistance to change

  • Administrators might not appreciate the full range of responsibilities of the SLP that might necessitate an alternative approach like workload.
  • Administrators may prefer a traditional model of teacher/student ratios.
  • There may be resistance to specific models of service delivery; for example, some general education staff and principals might voice concern about the 3:1 model in which the SLP has a week to "do paperwork and not see students."
  • Advocacy and/or bargaining (e.g., for class size/caseload) might be impacted by the inability to negotiate with unions, due to state statutes.

Other

  • SLP shortages might impact the ability to recruit and hire individuals to fill positions that would allow for more flexibility in service delivery.

How can I get training on this topic?

ASHA offers a number of training products on this topic.

  • Implementing a Workload Approach to Caseload: Methods and Strategies (Giess, n.d.).
  • Implementation Guide: A Workload Analysis Approach for Establishing Speech-Language Caseload Standards in the Schools (2003). ASHA (This publication is free to ASHA members. Contact ASHA Product Sales at 888-498-6699 for a copy.)
  • In addition to the training products, a great deal of information is available within ASHA publications such as Perspectives, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools and The ASHA Leader.

How can I incorporate more flexibility of service delivery in the student's IEP?

There are various ways to incorporate flexibility of service in the IEP or in meeting notes, depending on state and/or district requirements. Some examples are:

  • For middle school students, schedule "30 minutes once weekly in a general/special education classroom settings."
  • For high school students schedule "30 minutes 18 times per year (if services are being provided by semester) or 30 minutes 36 times per year (if services are provided all year) in general/special education classroom settings."
  • Specify the total number of contact hours per month or per year.

How can I connect with other school-based SLPs using a workload model?

The ASHA community provides an opportunity for SLPs to communicate with one another on topics of choice.

Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues is also another venue for communicating with school-based SLPs on this topics.

Does moving to a workload model always involve additional cost?

Although some workload solutions may involve additional costs, such as additional staffing, supplemental pay, etc., not all solutions necessitate additional costs.

For example, a 3:1 model requires no additional cost, yet is a viable workload solution.

Why doesn't ASHA just recommend a specific caseload number?

Caseload recommendations are often misinterpreted as caseload minimums rather than maximums.

The complexity of the specific cases assigned to an SLP vary greatly, which is not accounted for in a caseload recommendation (e.g., a caseload of 20 may be very demanding if it consists of students with multiple and/or severe disabilities, while a caseload of 40 may be adequate/appropriate if it comprises mainly students with mild disabilities).

A caseload number does not reflect the expanding responsibilities necessary to fully support students and provide appropriate educational services.

At this time, data illustrating the relationship between caseload number/complexity and outcomes are not available to help determine a caseload cap.

How should the use and supervision of SLPAs and others affect workload?

Any and all work responsibilities of the SLP should be reflected in the workload analysis. This includes time needed to engage with and provide direct and indirect supervision of SLPAs, as well as to train and direct other support personnel (e.g., classroom aides, student clinicians, and interpreters) assigned to the student. See the Practice Portal page on SLP Assistants for more information.

Content Disclaimer: The Practice Resource Project, ASHA policy documents, and guidelines contain information for use in all settings; however, members must consider all applicable local, state and federal requirements when applying the information in their specific work setting.