Caseload or Workload, That is the Question....
Billy Shakespeare once wrote "To Be or Not To Be, That is the Question". Hamlet was complaining about the unfairness of life while deciding if he should seek revenge for his father's death, school-based SLPs and districts consider the Caseload/Workload conundrum. According to American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association school studies, the average caseload is 47 kids.
For example, here in my state (Ohio), we have a cap number for a caseload of 80 students, unless you are working with preschoolers, then you can only have 50. The numbers are different if you are working with kids that fit into the following categories: Multiple Disabilities, Hearing Impairments, Autism, or OHI. You can also have a mixture of those students that must meet a ratio formula that feels like it was lifted straight from freshman algebra.
But we also have a fun little extra rule that states, Service Providers (OT, PT, SLP) must also follow a workload determination. The determination must include everything you do for the student and your job divided by the hours you are paid to work. But, there is no official calculator. Ohio has a mock calculator that can be found here. But Ohio, like many states, do not force the districts to use it. Districts can create their own that works for them.
That's the nuts and bolts, but how does it work in practice. Well, that's why its not being pushed by all. Are some therapists nervous they may get more students or are districts afraid they will have to hire more SLPs?
Caseload says that 80 articulation and pragmatic students in 6th grade is equal to 50 non-verbal multiple disability kids in the 3rd grade which is equal to 80 receptive language ID/SLD kids.
Workload says that I must balance my IEP minutes of direct contact + planning time + device building/material creation + IEP writing + Evaluation + Report writing + Lunch + consult time + school duties + other aspects of the job to find how many students I can see.
Given the ever expanding role of the SLP in the district, there needs to be a solid push to move to the workload model. The push must come from families of students and the professionals themselves. SLPs are expected to serve a widening population. We must do this and provide the students with the amount of therapy that is to be determined by their need, not by the amount of students on the caseload.
To start a conversation in your district follow these helpful hints from ASHA:
As always sound off below, let me know your thoughts, questions, comments, and/or concerns. Does your district use workload? Are you trying to help facilitate a switch, let us know!