Love working with the kids but the paperwork…….

May 11, 2024 by

May 11, 2024 #4

I don’t think anyone will argue that the best thing about being a Speech Language Pathologist in schools is working with the kids.  I even love working as a team when that would actually happen.  I like to think I’ve made a difference in the lives of at least a few of the students I worked with over the years.


Paperwork requirements alone have just gone over the top and really sour the overall situation.  You would have thought that the computer would have streamlined paperwork but in fact it just made it easier to create more paperwork.  I know some if not most days or weeks I spend more hours on paperwork and going to meetings than on servicing the students.  If I see a group of 4-5 students for an hour a week, that is about 30-35 hours of service a school year give or take the school schedule, cancellations for school events, meetings and absences.  At a minimum we have to write an ed plan with goals/accommodations, perhaps daily/weekly notes to help remember what the student did, data collection, perhaps fill out medicaid billing and write the dreaded progress report 3-4 times a year, for every student.  Depending on the needs of some students will take a lot longer to write up than others.  That’s easily 5-10 hours (if not more and it is always more) of basic paperwork/meetings per student.  You do the math.  Not to mention the hours it takes to write up a good technical report that can hold up to scrutiny.  

When working as an employee I was never given any extra time to complete the legally binding paperwork as caseloads grew.  I completed the paperwork either after school, which was not unreasonable at a minimum but it was never a minimum.  I worked many nights for hours after putting my kids to bed.  Or in 10–15-minute increments when I had a hole in my schedule.  We all know that our planning time in schools was/is very inadequate for the amount of planning we have to do but we have to follow what the teachers are given through the union even though our job is very different and requires a lot more legally binding documents (more on that later).  After about 30 years in the field I finally saw the light, entered private practice and now bill for those services.  

I always thought it my inability to complete tasks quickly and efficiently, that’s why I put in the hours.  I was wrong it was a slowly growing workload.

One thing I have noticed or realized over the years is that very little of what we write up is ever read by anyone.  Especially those awful progress reports (I’ve always considered those a creative writing exercise).  Few people read our extensive evaluations.  Few people on the team look over the IEP’s or read goals written by others. Worse yet our accommodations/modifications in IEPs are usually only glanced at by other team members.  In my experience it’s when the accommodations/modification are not followed that school systems end up in a tussle with parents.

In our world today I guess paperwork is here to stay.  Until that powers that be at levels way above the schools power/influence see the light we are doomed to have more and more paperwork.  The thing that gets me is that it isn’t SLP’s creating the paperwork it’s always someone who thinks they have the best idea since sliced bread adding to our paperwork load.

My thoughts:  Wouldn’t it be nice to spend more time with the students than doing paperwork.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have paperwork that is specialized to the Speech/Language Therapy process.  Wouldn’t it be nice for schools to give us enough time, maybe a smaller caseload to have time to write up paperwork, that will hold up to litigation.  

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