Becoming A School-Based Speech Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists are valuable members of a school-based team. They are specialized experts who help students develop their communication skills.

Schools are typically where early intervention and diagnosis of children’s speech disorders occur. That is why there is demand for speech-language pathologists in school settings.

What School Speech Pathologists Do

Speech-language pathologists, also called speech therapists and school speech pathologists, support students in K-12 schools who have been diagnosed with speech impairments or disorders. Often, they partner with teachers and administrators in intervention and evaluation to ensure students reach their academic goals. 

School speech pathologists work in schools and evaluate students who have physical and cognitive communication issues that affect their speech, voice, fluency, and language. Their main responsibilities are:

  • Conducting assessments
  • Making speech more understandable
  • Helping students reach performance standards
  • Collecting and analyzing information
  • Writing individualized education plans (IEPs)

Speech-language therapy and lessons focus on building vocabulary, increasing phonological awareness, developing reading comprehension, and practicing conversations. Outcomes of effective speech therapy for children and youth include:

  • Improvement in vocabulary
  • Development of speech fluency and skills
  • Increased social communication
  • Better reading comprehension

Working in Schools

There are several reasons why speech-language pathologists may find working in schools to be beneficial. Some of these benefits include:

  • Holidays and summers off

School-based speech therapists are on the same schedule as teachers and students—with extended breaks for holidays and summer vacations. Speech-language pathologists who still want to learn and work over the summer can do so by attending IEP meetings and participating in an extended school year. It is important to keep in mind the pay schedule (school-based positions typically last 10 months) and personal time-off requirements for work in schools.

  • Working with a variety of needs and students

Schools offer a variety of challenges and student populations. The many different personalities, behaviors, and needs of students require speech-language pathologists to think of creative and collaborative methods. There are always new students who will challenge the speech therapist to consider a different teaching strategy.

  • Some paperwork, but no productivity pressures

Not all speech-language pathologists are motivated by productivity expectations, which may exist in health-care settings. In school-based settings, there is no need to demonstrate productivity like in the medical field. Although paperwork is still a part of the job in schools, there aren’t the requirements for speech therapists to prove they are being productive. It is important for speech-language pathologists to be organized and efficient no matter the work setting.

  • Being part of a team

School-based speech pathologists are part of an educational team. The team not only includes teachers and administrators, but school psychologists, counselors, and occupational therapists may also be involved. Therefore, school speech-language pathologists can draw on many different perspectives to best address student needs.

Help Students Overcome Communication Challenges

Do you want to become a communication sciences expert who helps change the lives of students? Advancing in a speech-language pathology career may be right for you. Carlow’s MS in Speech-Language Pathology program will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to enter into professional practice as a licensed, certified speech-language pathologist who can work in a variety of settings. The program offers courses such as Early Intervention & School-Based Speech-Language Pathology, which emphasizes development of professional speech and language methods in school-based settings.

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