Individualize IEPs like a Pro for School-based SLPs
HOW IT WORKS
Listen, take a quiz, and earn a certificate of completion! Listen to this episode course at the bottom of this page or on your favorite podcast listing platform (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.). ASHA requires that CE courses take attendance (your unique login) and learner earns a certificate of completion (by passing the quick quiz). This program has been approved for 1 clock hour of continuing education credit by the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (TSHA). TSHA approval does not imply endorsement of course content, specific products, or clinical procedures.
TSHA continuing education (CE) hours can be used toward renewal of your Texas license (and most other states too) and as professional development activities for the maintenance of your ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC).
The Pep Talk Podcast for SLPs podcast episode courses have been planned and implemented in accordance with the policies of the Continuing Education Board of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). TSHA is accredited by the ASHA CEB to provide continuing education for speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
DESCRIPTION AND LEARNING OUTCOMES
As a result of this presentation the participant will be able to:
1. list 5 components of the student’s present levels (PLAAFP/PLOP/PLP)
2. identify an appropriate S.M.A.R.T. goal
3. define two types of taking data
ABOUT THIS EPISODE’S SPEAKERS
Michelle Andrews M.S. CCC-SLP
Founder and Managing Director
Michelle has been a speech-language pathologist since 2014. She has worked in the schools, private clinics, and home health. She started creating speech therapy materials for SLPs years ago and founded Pep Talk LLC. She discovered her passion for education and developed this continuing education podcast for SLPs everywhere. She desires to help SLPs feel confident and to produce the best treatment by increasing knowledge and skills.
Amanda Schaumburg M.S. CCC-SLP
Amanda is a speech language pathologist working in Texas. She has experience in the school systems, ECI programs (early intervention birth-3yrs), and outpatient clinics. She primarily work in schools (pre-k through 12th grade). She loves her job and feels so lucky to have the opportunity to work with families to help their child communicate. She currently run a private practice where she provides contract services to schools, public speaking engagements, tele-therapy services, and professional consultation services. Learn more about Amanda here.
Michelle Andrews’ financial disclosers include: She has a Teachers pay Teachers, Boom Learning, and Teach with Medley store under Pep Talk LLC. She is also the founder and manager of Pep Talk and the Pep Talk Podcast. Teach with Medley Educational Games is a sponsor of this podcast.
Michelle Andrews’ non-financial disclosures include: She has a stock participation plan with Teach with Medley Educational Games.
Click to expand this episode's transcript.
michelle_andrews: [00:00:00] Hey there, I’m Michelle Andrews and I’m your host for the Pep Talk podcast. episode will prepare you to write IEPs like a pro. Whether you have been a school SLP for years or are just starting out, this episode will sharpen your skills and ensure that you are using best practices for writing IEPs.
michelle_andrews: My guest speaker today actually been audited three times and has had the opportunity to ask auditors direct and get real answers. So we are all about to learn the best way of doing things. guest speaker today is Amanda Schaumberg. is a speech language pathologist in Texas and has spent most of her career in the public schools. She has experience in outpatient clinics, early childhood intervention programs in rehabs. Amanda is an author of speech therapy and educational and has been selling her creations online since 2015 in her store. Panda Speech. Her hope is to help busy build a library of effective and engaging materials. Amanda has recently [00:01:00] opened her own private where she provides contract, speech therapy services, professional development, teletherapy services, and professional consultations of her career. Amanda has a passion for community involvement. She serves on a local tennis association board, volunteers for local scouting programs, and is a Special Olympics coach for track and swimming. Amanda also sits on the board for Smiles for Speech, A 5 0 1 C nonprofit that provides speech and occupational therapy resources and training to understand communities around the globe. is married, has one son, two stepsons, and the cutest, Boston, Terri Pups, Fanny and Dotty. Dotty is on her way to becoming a pet therapist, to assist Amanda in her local community. That is such fun information, All right, so first, let’s go over some formalities for the course going over our financial disclosures. My financial disclosures include, I have a Teacher’s Pay Teachers Boom, Learning and Teach with Medley store under Pep Talk, [00:02:00] I am also the founder and manager of Pep Talk in the Pep Talk podcast. Teach With Medley is also a sponsor for this podcast. My non-financial disclosures include I have a stock plan with Teach with Medley. Amanda’s financial disclosures include she sells speech therapy in her store, Panda speech, and she is also a professional speaker. Amanda’s non-financial disclosures include she shares ideas and freebies on her social media channels. Now here are the learner objectives for this course. You’ll be able to list five components of the student’s present levels of performance. You’ll be able to an appropriate smart S M A R T goal. You’ll be able to define two types of taking data. Okay, Now let’s get started. Today we are talking all about writing and developing those IEPs. know we have so much on our plate when it comes to therapy, services, paperwork, et cetera. [00:03:00] let’s make sure we can develop those IEPs that are thorough, correct, and legal and less time than before. Am thrilled to introduce today’s guest speaker, Schaumberg.
michelle_andrews: Hi there, Mandy.
Mandi: Hey, how’s it going?
michelle_andrews: it going? Good. I’m so happy to have you here today. Mandy, can you go ahead and tell me a little bit more about yourself?
Mandi: so I mean, you kind of summed it up in my bio, but you know, right now I’m kind of doing a lot of different things for.
Mandi: different school districts I have contracts with. I provide home bound services for one district and another district. I, um, case manage and supervise their an S L P A for them.
Mandi: So I’m at a elementary school and a high school for that. And then I also provide all of the private speech therapy at their private schools
Mandi: and some headstart locations, like early intervention sites and also some daycares.
michelle_andrews: daycare cares
Mandi: So, um
Mandi: I have over 140 kids that [00:04:00] my company is, um, serving right now,
Mandi: but I had to, um, hire three SLPs to help me because
michelle_andrews: help me
Mandi: I wasn’t in anticipating having this much work.
Mandi: Um, we have a shortage as most places do,
Mandi: slp, so, um, I’ve had a lot more
michelle_andrews: lot more
Mandi: than I anticipated for this school year.
michelle_andrews: That’s amazing. You, and you’re a very well-rounded slp like we’ve talked about. You’ve worked in so many different areas, you have so much experience. Um, That’s amazing. Okay, let’s dive in.
michelle_andrews: First, can you give me a broad picture of all the main components that SLPs need to know about when they’re writing IEPs?
Mandi: Yeah, so you know, the, like I she’s mentioned before
Mandi: my experience and expertise in writing IEPs have was really developed by all of those auditing experiences cuz I know what they’ll look for
Mandi: the event you are audited Um so the main components are your present levels and states call these [00:05:00] different things Pla present levels of academic and functional performance Plop p l p whatever you call it It’s basically how the child is performing right now
michelle_andrews: now, Um
Mandi: your goals and objectives your accommodations and modifications your schedule of services your least restrictive environment and being able to explain that to parents and um
Mandi: I e p supplements Some states have these um speech pathologists you know
michelle_andrews: you uh
Mandi: supplement services through the autism supplement or personal care or even transition as they’re um transitioning into adulthood extended school year services
Mandi: IEP meeting attendance and then your deliberations or your minutes minutes of the meeting So all of those areas could be audited and um there are certain things you need to know for each one
michelle_andrews: Awesome. Perfect. That’s a great run through of all those. So right from the top , talk about those present levels of performance, present level of performance section. sorry, What are all the [00:06:00] components of that section and how can you gather up all this information?
Mandi: So when we talk about your present levels you have to think about it like this This is the foundation for the whole i e p Everything that comes after this section um should relate back to the present levels So your goals your accommodations your schedule If you have something written in that present levels it’ll you’ll be able to see it um you know played out in the rest of the iep So what you will need um for your components you’re gonna need your strengths and needs So what the child is good at and what areas do they struggle with and they need some supports with You’re gonna need specific and individual statement So specific things those kids are doing in the classroom This can be you know talking about their ability to rhyme or decode words or and for speech you know um exactly what goals and areas maybe phone names they’re working on You want data So for speech obviously we all know it’s gonna [00:07:00] be your speech therapy progress data but you also need data from classroom You need grades you need a performance on benchmark test on state assessments You also need um how are they like their reading levels how are they reading
Mandi: peers And then academic relevance So why is this important So why do how does their disability impact their education And that goes straight into impact statements So those two kind of go hand in hand Um your impact statement is gonna be more of like a general statement on how their disability which for us is speech impairment impacts their education And it can’t be really general like
Mandi: impact reading skills It needs to be specific Like this student is having difficulty
Mandi: words due to speech sound errors that type of thing
michelle_andrews: type of
Mandi: Um and then you know that goes back to your
Mandi: relevance So obviously if the child is leaving off final consonants they’re not gonna be able to [00:08:00] perform those rhyming tasks or sound out new words while they’re reading those type of um things So to sum that up sorry We have our strengths and needs Our specific and individual statements are data academic relevance and your impact statement
michelle_andrews: Awesome. So it sounds like you need a lot of help, um, gathering up information from the teacher. , do you happen to have a awesome way to do that? Um,
Mandi: Well so a lot of districts will have some like teacher forms
Mandi: found them not very helpful because number one teachers would not get them back to me um when I requested them And also
Mandi: A lot of
Mandi: will have forms to collect this data but I you know some teachers would not get it back to me They’d put it in the wrong box So what I did is I created a Google form that has all of the different um things you would need to collect from teachers
Mandi: benchmark testing reading levels
Mandi: needs all [00:09:00] those areas and even accommodations And we’ll talk about that later
Mandi: Um and I have an example
Mandi: form that um we can share with the podcast notes
Mandi: um that you can copy So when you when you put the the URL in it’ll say make a copy of the teacher Google form and then you can copy and edit
Mandi: to make it
Mandi: to your district’s needs
michelle_andrews: That’s amazing. When I saw you had that form, I just couldn’t believe it. , I, um, my cy year was in the schools and I remember I would just like email back and forth with teachers or try to run by the room. I just, I didn’t have a great system. And so when I saw that, I was like, just, that is the best idea ever.
michelle_andrews: Either creating your own or use yours as, as a template and make sure it has all the requirements that your specific torick needs. But the Google form is just genius. I love that.
Mandi: It just makes it easy cuz everything comes to your email address so and then you click on it and you get it all in one nice little area so you’re not searching for it
michelle_andrews: for [00:10:00] it. Right? And you aren’t like, Oh, oops, I forgot to ask you this question. It’s just, it’s all right there. It’s already just, just send it to the teacher.
Mandi: All right So when we’re talking about you know collecting the data in the pla some of the areas specifically I wanted to talk about that you might be collecting So one area would be grades and academic Um you’re gonna ob you know like I said
Mandi: strengths and needs in all areas So you wanna make sure you include those core classroom areas And this is if you are the case manager So you’re the one doing all of this paperwork
Mandi: you need to know how they’re doing in reading math and writing typically because that’s the state assessment areas that you have to report on or school districts have to report on Um you also wanna make a um note on their functional status So are they independent with self-help skills Can they you know go to the bathroom feed themselves are they uh aware of safety at school Those type of things And then you’re gonna include benchmark and state testing results [00:11:00] And then
michelle_andrews: result of
Mandi: you report this data like any kind of a district assessment or you Benchmark make sure you write if that’s average below average or grade level below grade level Because if you just write the student scored a 3 42 on their math benchmark a parent’s not gonna know what that means Or another person reading that IEP is not gonna know what that means So you need to make sure you explain that Um attendance
Mandi: Now a lot of people don’t even think about attendance but sometimes attendance can impact your um you know your performance in school and also your progress in your services Um so if the child has excessive absences that absolutely needs to be addressed in the iep Um you’re also gonna address
Mandi: behavior here Is there does the child have any behaviors that are impacting their education or even their progress So you know sometimes we have students who do not attend a therapy who may get upset and refuse to participate If that’s the case you need to clearly explain that And then obviously [00:12:00] you’re gonna have your speech
Mandi: And other related services So if the service uh the child has occupational therapy counseling anything like that
michelle_andrews: anything that.
Mandi: another thing I always like to say is that
Mandi: keep in mind that your IEP is a legal document
Mandi: parents caregiver staff attorneys whoever is reading this needs to be able to understand it There should not be a mystery And then um also make sure that you know everything you write in it could be presented in a court case And that’s a scary thought And typically that’s not gonna be the norm but it can happen And kind of piggybacking on that
michelle_andrews: on that
Mandi: email is official documentation in the school districts So if a child’s case went to court an attorney can search your school email and uh buy that child’s name and anything that pops up
Mandi: Can be used as official documentation So I always say make sure [00:13:00] that whatever you’re emailing about a student you are fine If that ever needed to be used for a documentation case
michelle_andrews: Right. That’s good to know.
michelle_andrews: Right. Okay, so let’s move on to the crowd. goals. So I re , remember learning SM a R T SMART acronym in grad school that that’s the best practice way of writing goals.
michelle_andrews: But can you break that down for us and give us some tangible tips and recommendations for goal writing?
Mandi: the You know format is really it’s an easy way to remember all of the pieces So what I do is I typically start with the duration So and in most districts it’s going to be from um IEP meeting to IEP meeting That’s your duration And then you’re gonna obviously have the
Mandi: uh area you want to address
Mandi: and you’re also going to include the level of support needed Now this is an area that I debate with a lot of my um colleagues on because [00:14:00] I stopped using the terms min mod and Max and I’ll tell you why
michelle_andrews: tell you
Mandi: My min minimum your minimum could be very different So
michelle_andrews: if the students
Mandi: Transfer schools and they go to another one
michelle_andrews: another one
Mandi: s l P may have a different perspective of what that level should be
Mandi: And actually I spoke with auditors and they agreed with me on that because it’s there’s it Your IP should not be a mystery in any way
Mandi: Somebody should be able to read that and know exactly what that child is receiv And how it is to be received So what I usually put instead of minimum mod uh maximum moderate that kind of thing is independently or just simply with a whatever cue So if they need a visual cue um
Mandi: and then the next part would be your situa situational criteria And a lot of people leave this part out of the goal Are we doing this within a structured therapy setting Are we doing with this in a conversational setting in a classroom [00:15:00] spontaneous speaking situation Um so add that and then all obviously your criteria for success And this needs to be measurable
Mandi: and I will warn flp not to put 70% accuracy on every goal cuz I’ve seen that as well Um it really needs to be like if you’re doing
Mandi: vocabulary goal maybe it’s seven out of 10 opportunities or seven out of 10 um
Mandi: on a story Red you know whatever it is make it very individual and specific and don’t just make a blanket copy and paste um criteria
michelle_andrews: mm-hmm. . That makes sense. I definitely seen that a lot. Just all the goals say kind of the same thing, well and I shared this with some of my other presentations I got a contract one day for a little tiny district Um and when I went out there every single articulation student and every language student had the same goal And the articulation goal was student will uh demonstrate age appropriate intelligibility in conversation and then [00:16:00] the language goal was student will
Mandi: appropriate expressive and receptive language So we actually went to the superintendent
michelle_andrews: superintendent, um
Mandi: and said Hey to for us to
Mandi: this contract we’re gonna have to have a meeting and individualize all of these students’ IEPs And they did not accept our contract after that which was you know sad because I hope
Mandi: kids got their
Mandi: taken care of
michelle_andrews: care I
Mandi: mean they were being seen and I’m sure the SLPs were working on individual goals but according to their paperwork which if they got audited that would’ve been a huge deal So um that was kind of one of the worst situations I saw
michelle_andrews: I, um
Mandi: with goals is all the same
michelle_andrews: the same. And how would you know what to work on? Say they moved districts and the speech therapist got their file, they would be like, This makes no sense.
michelle_andrews: I have no idea what goals. What sounds you’re working on, what language components you’re working on, that
Mandi: Well and another thing with goals I always tell [00:17:00] people especially when I’m like training somebody or when I have graduate students or I’m working with s LPAs or cfs don’t stuff your goals Um so if you’re having to write and in the goal you probably just need another goal
michelle_andrews: another goal
Mandi: so some people I’ve shared this information on my social media channels and I get a mixed
Mandi: response Like some people say we have to step goals because we’re only allowed three goals and that statement to me is not individualized So you shouldn’t have a set number of goals for any student A student should have whatever they need I al I mean I’m in agreeance that you shouldn’t have like 10 goals for each kid in a year cuz obviously we’re trying to project what we think they can master within the year
michelle_andrews: But um
Mandi: if you like if I have a vocabulary goal and it lists multiple meaning words categories compare and contrast you know all those things in one goal
Mandi: that’s number one really hard to take data on and report progress for because most of our special ed software have little [00:18:00] dropdowns for each goal So obviously you can’t put you know your data there
Mandi: there’s Three or four different skills you’re trying to report on
Mandi: So um that’s another thing that I always recommend just don’t step goals And now if you’re finding yourself with like eight goals then really real really reevaluate what that child needs to work on to be successful in school So talk with their teachers Figure out
michelle_andrews: Figure out
Mandi: in language arts or math or whatever areas they’re struggling with and write goals to support that too
michelle_andrews: That too. Right. That makes a lot of sense. That’s, that’s so helpful. Thank you. Okay, so now, now when it comes to taking data in the schools, what is the best way to do this? Because I can g guarantee you having 1 million post-it notes all over my room frantically tally, marking of them is probably not the best way.
michelle_andrews: So give me all your tips and tricks for collecting data.
Mandi: Well and so sometimes when I talk about this as well it’s an unpopular opinion cuz [00:19:00] people are so conditioned to take data every student all the whole session And honestly that’s just not the best way nor is it reliable data And I’ll kind of talk about that
michelle_andrews: kinda talk
Mandi: So I don’t try to take data on every student in every session Now there are some
Mandi: uh restrictions such as Medicaid billing or
michelle_andrews: or d
Mandi: that require you to have some kind of data every session And if that’s the case it’s okay I have a solution for that too Um but this one is the big one Don’t try to take data the entire session
michelle_andrews: your discussions.
Mandi: So especially when I get um graduate students they um when they come in and they’re you know working with the students I notice their eyes are down on their data sheets And they’re very worried about capturing all of these responses from all of these students during the session And what I realized is that we’re really not
Mandi: this situation They’re really not teaching the student [00:20:00]
Mandi: so um I always would say to my graduate students cuz I’m you know 100% professional don’t be a tally monster cuz that’s what it’s like You’re just sitting there tallying Um and it just it’s you’re if you’re collecting data during your teachable moments you know how reliable is that data So like you know most of us we use literacy based lessons We use you know games we use toys we are providing these visuals rich teaching uh moments And then we also have other students in the group right So there are other students’ responses that could be you know influencing The student next to them’s responses So how when we make that tally how do we know that tally
michelle_andrews: know that
Mandi: is true raw data and reliable of that child’s performance and not influenced by everything I just talked about?
Mandi: So that’s the concern So I
michelle_andrews: So um
Mandi: use my favorite method which is what I call data
Mandi: sampling So that is [00:21:00] taking raw data with no cues no teaching to see exactly where the child is independently with that skill What I do is in this data sampling I’m not trying to uh collect every response the child is making during the session because like I said there’s so much going on through that 30 minute 45 hour long session that could be influencing the data So what I do is I take you know if you’re you know wanting to
Mandi: a hundred utterances or a hundred trials Per session You may only be taking data on 10 or 20 And what you’ll do is you’ll take the student aside and do quick burst of data
michelle_andrews: of data
Mandi: the beginning or end of the session And that is your raw data Because you’re not gonna be providing any cuing any teaching There’s not gonna be other students influencing their responses So that’s what
Mandi: mean by data sampling And you can do this at the end of every session with kids for you know one to two minutes per student and get that
Mandi: the baseline data you [00:22:00] need Now some SLPs like to use the same exact word list for this and that’s fine cause it’s you know comparing baseline data Um some people use things like SLP toolkit they have great baseline data uh tools and you can use the same co you know um probes each time
Mandi: you don’t necessarily have to do that It’s just that depends on your style of therapy and what you um typically do But honestly it’s the best data
michelle_andrews: the best
Mandi: um in my opinion
Mandi: so the other one is called data
Mandi: And so basically what this looks like is you’re only focusing on one student per session
Mandi: You know the students each session This one’s a little bit more difficult if you have really large groups but if you have you know two to three kids in a group this usually works out fine And what I typically do I typically do the data sampling with this data
Mandi: because like I said you wanna make sure the data is reliable and raw
Mandi: not influenced [00:23:00] by your teaching Um so typically um we have six week intervals for progress So I just make sure I hit really good data on each kid to report for each six week interval Um and this is the area that I get a lot of feedback on because
Mandi: SLPs say they have to record some kind of data for each session
Mandi: And so if that’s the case like for Medicaid billing you can go in and just take those quick data samples um and to plug into your you know your software your billing program
michelle_andrews: That’s great. I love how you were saying that whenever you’re collecting data all throughout the session and they have maybe another student next to them or you are giving them cues that that’s not raw data.
michelle_andrews: That’s not even
michelle_andrews: looking for when you’re trying to collect data. Um, and Right, and the whole speech session isn’t just one big test, Right. we’re
michelle_andrews: you know, I want, we want SOPs out there, like focusing on teaching the skills. And then the data is to see what have they learned from what [00:24:00] you have taught them.
michelle_andrews: So if you spend the whole time acting like it’s one big test session. Yeah. , your therapy services might not even be, , as appropriate as they can be. So that, that’s great information. I really
Mandi: Well and
michelle_andrews: all that.
Mandi: One of my exercises with my graduate students is I make them plan a lesson Of course I approve it and then I say Okay we’re not taking data this whole session
Mandi: We are just teaching We are just providing the models and cues And it’s so hard for them not to to tally stuff you know And at the end of the session they always report Well
Mandi: could have had really good data for that session I’m like No what you had was a really good teaching moment in a really
michelle_andrews: I really
Mandi: language rich session And that is good Now what I would recommend if you need data from that session take a data sample at the end and then that is your raw data or at the beginning whatever I mean it’s kind of your up to your discretion on that But
michelle_andrews: but um
Mandi: it’s one of my favorite things to do with graduate students is to make them not be tally monsters[00:25:00]
michelle_andrews: tally monsters.
michelle_andrews: I think especially in grad school and maybe your c y year, I think, I don’t know, I don’t know what it is about that era of you’re just maybe nervous and trying to make sure you’re doing everything right and tally every response that you can .
michelle_andrews: a, you know, post to notes just coming outta my ears of marks and stuff and yeah, I think one supervisor was telling me, know, you don’t have to tally every
michelle_andrews: you know, cuz that way you can really focus on teaching them.
michelle_andrews: And um, that’s where you’re gonna see better speech therapy for sure.
michelle_andrews: Okay, so next section is accommodations. How do I know what all my student needs in their classroom?
Mandi: So this is an area that a lot of um I’ve see that a lot of SLPs don’t feel confident in doing Um and I don’t know if it’s because we weren’t really taught about this in graduate school but you know being in the schools I have a lot of experience writing accommodations and working with diags and uh [00:26:00] diagnosticians and school psychologists on the on these areas But if a child is a a speech only student so that’s their only area of eligibility they can still have accommodations if appropriate So for articulation some of the most common ones are like allowing longer oral response time you know provide provin preferential seating in case the teacher needs to be near to the students
Mandi: assignments requiring student to make oral classroom presentations if needed and like no penalty for spelling errors And that one is allowable in most states except for on spelling tests obviously And then same for fluency You’re gonna have you know modified assignments for speaking
Mandi: And language is a little bit more involved because depending on if it’s an expressive language um
Mandi: disorder or receptive So some students may need shortened assignments or repeat the instructions chunk and check those type of things
michelle_andrews: of Um
Mandi: [00:27:00] and again how you know what the student needs is by communicating with that classroom teacher because they’re you’re not in that classroom every day seeing what the child is going through what they’re struggling with
Mandi: So that’s one of the most important things is that communication And again that Google Forum comes in handy because you really don’t have time to go to each classroom
michelle_andrews: go to
Mandi: observe what’s going on and ask the teacher what they need to be successful Um and one thing
Mandi: really important to understand about accommodations these are not things that all teachers do for all of their students So this would be
michelle_andrews: this specifically,
Mandi: this child needs to be successful
Mandi: when I talk to teachers especially in like the younger grades kindergarten first they’re doing a lot of those things for all students naturally But if that child and I this is something I explain to them if the child moves
Mandi: the kindergarten teacher in the state over may not do the same things naturally
Mandi: know just because it you have [00:28:00] a really good teacher providing the extra time and all this these wonderful accommodations to all students not all teachers do that So you need to have protections built in for that student in the event they ever moved
michelle_andrews: Okay. So you really need to be thorough on that section and get a lot of help from the teacher, really work together on making sure that has all the information needed.
Mandi: Yeah And you you have to think about like a student with a severe articulation impairment really reduced intellig
michelle_andrews: to be
Mandi: They may need supports in the classroom You know they may get frustrated communicating with peers and teachers They may have difficulty decoding words or you know like I said before the rhyming skills all those things So you really have to consider that how how their disability is impacting their education
michelle_andrews: your education
Mandi: accommodations are an an easy way to help protect that child in the classroom environment when you’re not around
Mandi: cuz you know in speech therapy you’re gonna be working in with them on whatever they need but they spend the majority of their time in those classrooms[00:29:00]
michelle_andrews: Right. That’s so true. Okay. That was very helpful. So now the schedule of services section can get confusing. I feel like so many SLPs have been told a variety of different ways to do this, but how should this be done?
Mandi: Yes So this is one of the biggest debate areas as well
michelle_andrews: areas you
Mandi: know I think everybody does things so differently all over our country I wish there was more a standard way to do it but you know even in states it’s so varied which I find interesting cuz you know there’s state guidelines But anyways
Mandi: Your schedule of services needs to include a frequency and duration So how many times per week for how long
Mandi: It also needs to include a start and end date And typically that’s gonna be IEP meeting to IEP meeting date It needs to include a location
michelle_andrews: a location
Mandi: Um and then the type of session is it group is it individual
michelle_andrews: specific individuals.
Mandi: So on the frequency and duration part [00:30:00] I get a lot of IEPs from outta state They that say bulk minutes like 210 minutes a month 1,520 minutes a school year um or that kind of thing And let me tell you um auditors do not like that and they will request you change that if you ever get audited on your minutes Um so people say But my district lets me do this to have more wiggle room Um you know in the case there are field trips or tests you know you can move those minutes around as needed
Mandi: but this helps the s l P but it’s very confusing to parents
Mandi: Um I’ve shared this before but you know one of my students received services in school Um my middle son is autistic and I was the parent on the other side of that that table And so if I’m reading something
Mandi: 210 minutes a month
Mandi: that’s that’s not clear That doesn’t tell me when my child is coming to therapy Is that every week Is that every two weeks Is that one half day session Like what is that So you know what I [00:31:00] mean
michelle_andrews: know what
Mandi: So if you are adamant of leaving those both minutes because your district lets you I would meet in the middle and write a descriptor of what that means So for example
Mandi: you know Johnny will receive 1,520 minutes of speech therapy annually And yes that is still being done which will typically be conducted in 30 minute sessions once per week So you still have your bulk minutes if that’s what you are just gonna hang onto and cling to for life until you’re made to change
michelle_andrews: your name
Mandi: But you are telling the parent what that means
michelle_andrews: what that
Mandi: Um and so that’s basically what the auditors told me They said it needs to be clear for parents You may understand you may explain it to staff but if a parent can’t understand it then it’s not best
michelle_andrews: that practice
Mandi: So another thing um I hear from SLP
Mandi: that write book minutes is that
michelle_andrews: know that
Mandi: I explain this in the R meeting to the parents [00:32:00] and So they understand I’m like well if it’s not written down it didn’t happen So you have to write it down It has to be in there somewhere Um some people even write it in the in the deliberations the minutes I would recommend putting it on the schedule of services page just to be as clear as possible
michelle_andrews: as possible.
Mandi: Um another area
Mandi: I have seen
Mandi: um I have I mean I’ve seen some discrepancy in is you know those first weeks of school or the very last weeks of school when there’s all of the crazy stuff going on Like you know kids getting you know put in different classes You have like the end of school parties you have you know field days all that kind of stuff So typically SLPs across the United States are not pulling kids the first or last week of school and that’s pretty common Um if you a you know when I did a poll
Mandi: most it was like I think 78% don’t
Mandi: So [00:33:00] we’re not writing that in our iep I when I was in the school full time and was getting um IEPs from other districts that wasn’t indicated
Mandi: needs to be because if you have like let’s say you write the student will receive 30 minutes once a week from October, 2022 to October, 2023 That means all those ti all the time the school is in session that child should be getting that 30 minutes once a week So I learned my lesson the hard way with this because I had the honor of being one of our board members daughter’s speech pathologist The first week of school the board member came by they were doing their rounds around the school and they said How did my daughter do in speech therapy this week And I said Oh
Mandi: the first week of school We don’t pull kids the first week They’re getting used to the you know their classrooms And the board member said Well you didn’t explain that to me And it’s not written in her iep
michelle_andrews: her I
Mandi: I was like Oh you know what You’re right
Mandi: from that moment on [00:34:00] I started writing what’s called schedule exceptions So I typically would write services will begin the second week of school The first week of school will be used for indirect service such as scheduling and acclimation to the school environment or something like that And then ob And then the last week
Mandi: school I would write that services will end the second to last week of school Indirect services will be provided the last week or you know something like that And I put that in every single i e p because if you don’t you’re actually violating the iep If you’re not pulling the student the first and last weeks of school
michelle_andrews: I. Wow. That is such great information to make we spread because that Yeah, you don’t wanna get audited and, and get in trouble for something like Thank you for sharing that.
michelle_andrews: what about least restrictive environment information? Uh, can you touch on that?
Mandi: Yeah so least restricted environment You want to be able to explain to anybody who asks whether that’s a parent in an iep a staff member teacher principal or even if you’re on the [00:35:00] stand if the court goes to I mean if the case goes to litigation So why does the student need to be pulled from the general education population to receive your services You know some therapists do push in
Mandi: inclusion services Sorry I don’t really like the term push in I like inclusion better but that’s the term some people use But anyways so I have found with articulation students that the best setting is the speech therapy room Because it’s quiet it’s separate You’re not drawing attention to that student in the classroom by you know pointing out your mouth having them look in with flashlights and mouth models that’s too distracting for the general education classroom For me there are SLPs out there who do it in the classroom I don’t Get it but
Mandi: each their own But I always explain that to parents like we need a quiet private confidential area to work on these speech sounds and it would be too distracting in their classroom to do it So just be able to explain why you are taking them out of their class[00:36:00]
michelle_andrews: Right. Especially with those speech sounds, that that very much could be more distracting than maybe working on some language goals.
michelle_andrews: It seems like maybe that could be easier in the classroom, but yeah, if you’re like looking in their mouth and you know, you really need a lot of trials and then they’re talking in class that, that, you know, that really proves the point of this is the least restrictive environment to work on these goals, that this is what’s needed.
Mandi: right Yeah And if I’m coming in with my giant mouth models and all that I mean that’s like
Mandi: you know it
michelle_andrews: is gonna
michelle_andrews: get one on one . Yeah. Attention. Absolutely. That’s what I love those big mouth models too. Those are so fun.
Mandi: Yeah I have I have a ton of them I I I’ve stopped buying them I don’t need anymore I really don’t
michelle_andrews: Awesome. Yes. Okay. All right. So let’s get into the elements of deliberation, which is also the minutes, correct?
Mandi: the one thing that you need to make sure you have a plan for [00:37:00] is the person leading the meeting should not be the person taking the minutes So in my districts that I um
michelle_andrews: district that I
Mandi: Contract with the administrators
Mandi: the um uh lead the the meeting and I take the minutes as we go along Um some districts have a separate person who does all of that who they just come to the meeting just to take minutes So you need a real if you’re new to the schools that’s a good question to ask before your first i u
michelle_andrews: before you’re
Mandi: is to know
michelle_andrews: to know
Mandi: you know what the plan for that is And the deliberations are not a transcript of the meeting they’re just a summary of all of the important areas So typically you will use an agenda
Mandi: hit every you know piece of that agenda in your deliberations And I have a couple sample agendas that I can also provide
Mandi: as a handout
Mandi: um but that’s gonna be from like a Texas i e p And um it just has all of those areas your present levels you know your goals your accommodations your state testing all of those [00:38:00] areas um that you need to hit on and make sure you cover
michelle_andrews: on. That’s so helpful. Um, yeah, I know I was in the schools, our principal always. Or Mo at least most always took the minutes and yeah, I, I think that it needs to be some, it definitely can’t be the case manager or you know, the SLP who really needs to be doing a lot of talking. You need to be focused on talking to the parents
michelle_andrews: the, the whole IEP team. Awesome. Okay, last is the, um, of provision of services sections. Can you describe what all I need to log for this and how I can do this efficiently?
Mandi: Yeah so one of my first audits I was actually a cf and it was a a really hefty audit They audit Like ev all records for each um they you know pick certain students and one of the things they asked for was my evidence of provision of services
Mandi: I was like Oh my gosh I don’t have anything that says those words So I went back panicking to my boss at the clinic [00:39:00] I’m like What is this
Mandi: You know And she’s like Mandy that’s just your log of services or your da you know your daily data your daily notes
Mandi: I was like Okay I do have that Um
Mandi: so what they’re looking for for evidence of provision of services is gonna obviously be your date the exact time you saw this child if it was group or individual your therapy plan or whatever you did for the day It doesn’t have to be too specific You could just say Our tick cards they they said that part doesn’t matter Um what objectives you addressed And then a uh like a progress comment or a code You know like a lot of our
michelle_andrews: a lot
Mandi: has that like P for progress W for working
michelle_andrews: what the
Mandi: M for master that type of thing Um they said that you don’t have to have data for each of these sessions This is not like
Mandi: but a lot of people are using their Medicaid billing software
Mandi: their evidence of provision of services So if you’re lucky enough to get [00:40:00]
Mandi: uh bill Medicaid every week you can if you were audited you could just print out you know a record from that software program
michelle_andrews: out. Oh, well.
michelle_andrews: At least that’s great because I know that’s a lot of extra paperwork and so then at least you have to do that anyways, so then it’s almost like you’re not doing anything extra. You have to do it anyways. So
Mandi: Right Well I created a log that I use I like handwritten logs as I’m going Um and then I also have it
Mandi: electronically but I it just has all of those areas and I actually um showed it to the auditor and I said Hey would this work And they’re like Yeah that works great Thanks
michelle_andrews: That’s great. Yeah.
michelle_andrews: you, you have one made. Yeah, I like to hand write too, because then if I wait till is that, I wait till after the session, you know, it’s, Oh, what did they do?
michelle_andrews: Or I, I
michelle_andrews: I feel like I, I can write a better little note. And I make sure I get it done. I don’t rush off to my next session and forget and then have like a bunch to do at the end of the day.
michelle_andrews: I think doing it right there, writing
michelle_andrews: [00:41:00] right, well
Mandi: and on there I do I do notate if there’s a student absence if there’s a school like um a school related absence a holiday whatever it is And another thing I wanna mention on evidence of vision of services cuz this is something I asked two different auditors about Missed session thing you know I know that’s a big face uh you know speech therapy Facebook group
Mandi: So I can tell you what two different auditors told me And then I also did a lot of research on the topic because you know I was told different things by different you know principles and special education directors And really
michelle_andrews: and really
Mandi: you cannot have a mish session missed session policy You just can’t So if your school has one it’s not best practice and it’s really not
Mandi: okay You can’t have one Um and this doesn’t come from just my opinion or just two auditors opinion This actually came from the [00:42:00] Department of Education an office of Special education And Asha actually um collaborated with them to make a statement And you can read it on ASHA’s website but basically here’s what they say They indicated that each case should be considered to determine whether the impact of MS session interferes with the student’s progress towards his or her indivi individualized education program and access to free inappropriate public education If progression is noted you have to maybe hold a meeting to discuss whether that child was denied their services um appropriately
Mandi: you’re if you miss one session and you have no time to make that those you know sessions up you really just need to see are those students regressing Cuz if they’re not
michelle_andrews: if there’re not
Mandi: SLP should not stress about it and should not be made to feel guilty if they don’t get that made up
michelle_andrews: to Um
Mandi: cuz as we know speech therapists are not provided subs when we’re absent
michelle_andrews: [00:43:00] when
Mandi: and it’s almost impossible to make things up when we’re out And this is also led to SLPs not even taking a sick day due to The guilt and worry about making up all that time But basically the Department of Education said
Mandi: if the child’s not regressing
michelle_andrews: not regressing,
Mandi: probably okay Now the auditors told me make your best and reasonable efforts to make up those sessions especially if you’re out
Mandi: The only time that you would not be making up sessions if this school is closed
Mandi: or if the student themselves is not present However if you think about this if the student is absent and it is causing a regression of skills you’re still gonna have a meeting to talk about this You know cuz attendance impacts progress So basically I always tell SLPs don’t stress about it And if you notice regression then take it case by case Um I so I’ve talked about this on social media and I’ve got a ton of mixed responses and one SLP said she was out for surgery [00:44:00] I think it was three weeks The district refused to provide her coverage and she was told she had to make up every session when she got back
Mandi: what she did which was kind of snarky and bold but I like it
michelle_andrews: like it
Mandi: she got back on all of those sessions on her logs she wrote SLP out for surgery
Mandi: District did not provide
michelle_andrews: did not
Mandi: and that’s what she logged for each kid And she didn’t She said I tried to make up some especially if some kids were struggling but she goes It was impossible And honestly it is if
Mandi: there’s no And I’ve heard maternity leaves not getting covered
Mandi: So basically if the district approves your paid time off if they you know approve it and you’re good to go
michelle_andrews: you’re to
Mandi: responsibility of those sessions is lifted off of you because that’s approved time off and is now on the district
Mandi: But the districts do not make that clear and nor do they want that message to be out there Right But technically it is their responsibility not yours at that point
michelle_andrews: yours at
Mandi: Um obviously just one or two days here that’s not gonna [00:45:00] impact student progress most likely you know Um but if it’s those long sick leaves or you’re having a
michelle_andrews: or if you’re
Mandi: or you know maternity that is the district responsibility not yours And
Mandi: don’t know how to make people understand that because they don’t because they are almost like bullied into thinking it’s it’s their problem And I hate that
michelle_andrews: Right. I don’t know it know, so widespread that, they have to make up every session, you know, I think, you know, trying as best you can, but realistically, especially if you’re out for any length of time um, you know, a week or more or something like that, like, I don’t see how there’s even a way to make all that up.
michelle_andrews: Especially, you know, you’re gonna have, gonna have meetings and all sorts of things where you might even miss other sessions. , know, that’s where I missed the most. And when I was a Cy I would all these IEP meetings that I had have to go to, and then they were always, whenever the teacher had availability.
michelle_andrews: So it was, then I would miss sessions [00:46:00] every time. And so, yeah, I was very stressed that, Oh, I have to make all these up and, you know, I, I just been over backwards. But, you know, I, and I definitely think that I’m glad to have worked hard to make some up, but at the same time, you know, if they’re not regressing and doing the best I can, then at least I don’t have that panic and that stress.
Mandi: the guilt is real You know we feel that guilt because we want we’re
Mandi: We’re in this to help people So when we don’t you know when we miss these sessions it really weighs on us but we’re only one person
Mandi: So we can only do what’s possible And like you said when you have IEPs and evaluations and everything piling up there’s those there are times that you’re gonna miss And um and that’s okay It’s just hard for us to you know wrap our heads around that that it’s okay
michelle_andrews: Right. That’s so true.
Mandi: What I will say you know cuz those evidence of provisions of services so if you’re ever audited [00:47:00] for that and you are supposed to be seeing this kid eight times a month and let’s say you had all those interruptions and you missed one well you need to have documentation of that So if you’re
michelle_andrews: if you’re
Mandi: s L p uh unable to complete session due to IEP meeting or whatever it is
Mandi: and then and document any attempt So like if you missed because of an IEP meeting and then you go to get the kid for a makeup and they’re on a field trip
Mandi: document that Makeup session attempted student unavailable or whatever it is make sure you document everything Um because you will need to show why you didn’t see them their eight sessions you know in that month if that’s the case
michelle_andrews: that’s the case. Right. So that’s where you would document it. The, the evidence of provision of services.
Mandi: And you know what I if I ever go back full time I’m
Mandi: use that statement from that snarky slp I love it SLP out didn’t
Mandi: provide coverage
michelle_andrews: might be a little snarky, but it’s, it’s just true. It’s just, you know, you’re being honest and direct and
michelle_andrews: yeah. . That’s perfect. [00:48:00] That’s a great statement to use. Yeah. Okay. So another thing I wanted to touch on, sometimes are the case manager of speech only kids, and then sometimes we’re not.
michelle_andrews: Can you kind of go into the um, on both sides?
Mandi: Sure So case managers you’re in charge of that whole file So you’re in charge of getting all of the information for the present levels all that kind of stuff Um making sure you’re monitoring their attendance their grades all that those pieces that if you’re um you know if you’re not the case manager you’re really only worrying about the speech services
Mandi: Um and that includes you know getting our uh i e p paperwork to parents That includes you know meeting with parents to get consent signs all of those things the case managers do
michelle_andrews: with Um
Mandi: most SLPs are gonna be the case managers of speech impairment only students Um so students who are under that eligibility only [00:49:00] if the child has multiple um eligibility areas typically a diagnostician or a school psychologist are gonna case manage those students So um
Mandi: that’s kind of the difference Uh you’re just it’s just more paperwork basically which
Mandi: you know
michelle_andrews: And then you’re also Well, in Texas we call ’em our meetings.
michelle_andrews: Um, you’re, you’re the, the leader, like you basically go through everything are the main speaker during the meeting.
Mandi: Well that’s really a district thing cuz I’ve had principals that they don’t care who’s the case manager They want to lead the meetings
Mandi: that’s that’s really you know that just depends on sometimes it’s even per school not even per district Cuz I have a a principal that says you just go ahead and do it You know you got it And then I have another principal that
michelle_andrews: principal, but
Mandi: The leader each time
michelle_andrews: Oh, okay. Interesting. So that, that will vary.
michelle_andrews: Okay, so you have so much experience and have gone through so many [00:50:00] different, uh, situations. Do you have any stories for us?
michelle_andrews: I can
Mandi: So when we talk about you know all of the deliberations and the people who have to be involved in the iep you know there was one district I worked in that I literally would have teachers and sometimes an administrator pop in and say Hey
Mandi: I am super busy today Do you mind if I just sign the IEP and like
Mandi: know head on out And that was really difficult for me as a new speech pathologist because here this these people who have been working in this district longer than me are asking me this question And in you know I feel like that’s not right You have to attend the meeting cuz you’re a required member
michelle_andrews: required member
Mandi: So um that was a hard lesson I had to learn because
Mandi: did allow that once for a teacher But then my special ed director she came to me and said
Mandi: This I e p you have to have a general education teacher here there Why What what went on And I told her what happened and [00:51:00] she’s like You have to kind of put your foot down and say no you have to attend Um and I I had a hard time with a lot of teachers because you know we used their conference time typically to have the meetings
michelle_andrews: to have
Mandi: and they
Mandi: complain about it And I wanna say well I don’t have a conference time and at least we’re considering when you’re available cuz it’s you know
michelle_andrews: you know
Mandi: have to you know reschedule therapy sessions do all kinds of things to make these IEP meetings work And I’m asking you for each student to meet once a year And typically a teacher may have only two to three kids with IEPs in their class So that’s two to three meetings a year where I’m doing 50 to 60 or more a year So that was a hard kind of lesson to learn early on So if you
michelle_andrews: you are
Mandi: approached with uh staff members who are asked to be excused um you gotta put your foot down Now there are some times if a parent agrees not everyone has to attend the whole meeting um but the parent will have to sign that they agree to that[00:52:00]
michelle_andrews: Right. I’m so glad you mentioned that because, and that, and that can be difficult to put your foot down maybe to the principal or or other teachers that are, you know, have been there way longer than you. You know, that you feel like that, I don’t know that that can be very difficult, it’s so important to know what all these rules are and so that you can confidently say, No, that’s not right.
michelle_andrews: I’m not supposed to do that. Instead of being unsure and maybe going with it. Cuz someone told you to and you felt like they should know, they, they would know the right answer
michelle_andrews: really maybe they don’t. Yeah.
Mandi: Well your best resource is gonna be your state guidelines So a lot of states will have a website or a downloadable like handbook
michelle_andrews: like handbook
Mandi: legal frameworks or special education guidelines Always be familiar with that Texas is really easy It’s like you click on the state click on your region and it you can look up everything like timelines like for evaluations All those different rules are meeting attendance rules So I suggest being [00:53:00] familiar with with whatever state you live in looking at their um your department of special education side on that And if you don’t know where to look or you can’t find it ask your special education job director They will know
michelle_andrews: Perfect. Yeah, I’ll, I’ll link to that in the show notes too, that they can go. I, I know it’d be the Texas one I guess, but, um, all the Texas residents here, I’ll, I’ll link for that and then yeah, ev everyone to try to find out the right information so that you can confidently know what to do. This has been so awesome.
michelle_andrews: I, I feel like the theme of everything though is to be clear and to write everything in the IEP and don’t let anything be a mystery. Um, let’s see, one thing that I did wanna have you share is maybe one last statement or pep talk, if you to our listeners. Um, something that you can share, uh, for kind of a last little statement?
Mandi: I always like to share this when I’m presenting on IEPs because [00:54:00] I think it’s the most important thing for you to remember from anything I’ve told you or talked about Um it’s that please don’t judge other people’s IEPs And I say that because sometimes you’ll get an IEP and you’ll be thinking
Mandi: Oh my gosh What what is this Or what was this person thinking These goals are horrible
michelle_andrews: Or You
Mandi: know I I can’t see the kid three times a week You know you go into these like spirals and it you don’t need to
Mandi: because once you get them you have the power to
Mandi: evaluate the plan see if it’s working and then change it Um I always also like to say you have no idea what was going on in that person’s life when they were riding the iep Were they being
Mandi: St Stout at work Were they overwhelmed Were they having a super bad day and just hurried through it You just don’t know So don’t judge others’ IEPs That’s my takeaway
michelle_andrews: I love that. Sometimes we can easily see something and that that’s not how we would do it and get carried away with that. But I think that’s a great point to think about is [00:55:00] judge, we’re all, and we’re all learning.
michelle_andrews: You know, maybe
michelle_andrews: even whenever that was written, maybe that SLP already would do it differently or better whatever, but Yeah. To not judged. Absolutely.
Mandi: Well, I see a lot of people on, uh, uh, social media, which really, it’s just, I do not agree with reading bad IEPs and breaking them down and almost making it like, kind of a shaming thing, like shaming the s l p for not maybe being up to date with best practice. And I don’t agree with that because like I said, we’re all trying to do
Mandi: We’re all, you know, overworked. Um, so I, if you see stuff like that, I,
Mandi: I would not engage with it because to me it’s not
Mandi: positive and it’s not
Mandi: building, you know, better
michelle_andrews: you know,
Mandi: what you’re doing is it’s almost tearing them down. And, um, we are always learning. And, you know, you may have a, an SLP stuck in their ways, , but if you get an IEP like that, just change it when it comes to you.
Mandi: And that’s very simple. No judgment needed.
michelle_andrews: [00:56:00] Yes. I completely agree. Mandy, this entire episode has been so enlightening. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to explain this step by step so we can be IEP writing pros. am also so thankful. You got audited blessing in disguise. Um, so you were able to ask those direct questions and find out all this information.
michelle_andrews: I know you’ve also done a ton of research and have learned so much and were able to teach us all about this. Thank you so much for speaking with me here today,
Mandi: Yeah, it’s been fun. Thanks so much for having me.
michelle_andrews: Thank you for listening. We hope you have learned something today. All of the references and resources throughout the episode are listed in the show notes and also listed on the Pep Talk podcast for SLPs website. If you want to learn more about Mandy and make sure to check out her Instagram at Panda speech her website, panda speech.com. thank you again for joining me here today.
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