Monday, June 29, 2015

The 3:1 Therapy Model: What is "Student Support Week"?

Welcome to the final post in my series of posts about the 3:1 Therapy Model for Speech & Language Therapy. This model was implemented after a couple particularly rough years in our district. SLPs were feeling a lot of burn-out and started researching some ways to alleviate the pressure they were feeling. The found the 3:1 Therapy Model, which is backed by ASHA, and asked administration for an opportunity to use it. Our district just completed it's 6th year using this model. The SLPs are much happier and dismissal rates have actually improved!

If you think this is something that could help you and your students, I would suggest reading the first three posts of this series and doing some research on ASHA's website. At the end of this post, I will include some links to some other great information regarding the 3:1 therapy model.

You can learn more about what the 3:1 therapy model is here. More information about getting started can be found here. And information about how it affects Medicaid billing can be found here.

This post will focus on the "Student Support Week" (at least that's what our district calls it). I've also heard it called "Indirect Services Week," "Coaches Week," "Collaboration Week," and "Meeting Week," among other things. This is the 4th week of your cycle if you are implementing a true 3:1 Model. Some schools make it the last week of each month or they make it one week of each quarter. This will ultimately be up to you and your team to decide. This week is used for: testing, meetings, screenings, medicaid billing, collaboration with teachers/other providers, RtI progress monitoring, providing make up sessions, etc. We try to schedule all meetings that speech language pathologists need to attend during that week. We do this during our monthly special education provider meeting so everyone is there and on the same page. Sometimes it doesn't always work out and we have to have a meeting earlier or later than that student support week. And that's okay! We just make up the minutes sessions during student support week.

This year I also supervised a Clinical Fellow, which was an awesome experience. But it did require A LOT of extra work from me. The student support week was a lifesaver when having to make up sessions I missed due to my responsibilities as a CF supervisor.

One really big (and valid) complaint that we've heard from other districts trying to implement this is that they are afraid it will be viewed as "unfair" to other service providers. The SLPs in our district do hear from special education teachers is that it's not "fair" that we get a "week off" to do paperwork. We are incredibly lucky that our administration supports this model so vehemently that we don't have to worry about what those kinds of complaints will lead to. These are some tidbits of information that our administration generally shares with these teachers when they get these kids of complaints:

  • SLPs have 50-60 kids on their caseloads that they are attending IEP meetings for and writing IEPs for. Special education teachers in our district have no more than 20 on their caseloads
  • SLPs do all their own assessments while school psychologists do the cognitive assessments for special education testing
  • SLPs also have RtI responsibilities
  • SLPs bill Medicaid for their services, special education teachers do not
  • SLPs complete their own speech and language screenings
  • SLPs may also have to supervise Clinical Fellows due to a high turnover rate in our district
  • SLPs in our district do not get substitutes when they miss a day of work for inservices, illnesses, etc, so they must make up student minutes. Special education teachers receive a substitute, therefore, minutes do not have to be made up when they take a sick day. 
We are by no means saying that one job is more important or more work than the other. But the responsibilities are just different. I know that there are a lot of things that special education teachers must do every day that I don't have to do at all. However, my set of responsibilities certainly gives me more than enough work to fill my "week off." ;) 

I hope that this series was helpful. I also hope that if you are feeling overwhelmed at work, that you are able to find a compromise with your administration that works for both of you - no matter what it might be! If you need more info on the 3:1 Therapy model, here are some great links: 

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