Q: Is the SLP on the IEP team legally allowed to use another SLP’s evaluation report to determine strengths/weaknesses and need for services? Or, does the SLP on the IEP team have to be the one to evaluate the child?
A. Great question. It can be confusing when there’s a speech report on the table and a different speech pathologist is presiding over the meeting. Although every speech path is different, our credentials are standardized. In fact, if you are concerned about the credentials, check to see if the speech pathologist is endorsed through the American-Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA).
Are you curious about how two speech paths would be involved in one case? Usually the school-based speech pathologist evaluates the students attending the school. But if a student is bilingual, best practice means that the building speech pathologist refers the case to a bilingual speech pathologist. A student can appear to have a speech problem in English, but be within the average range. That means that the student is learning English and does not have a speech/language problem. The referring speech path does not want to err and make a student eligible for speech therapy who does not have a disorder. The bilingual speech path will come in to the school, perform the evaluation, and write a report. The bilingual speech pathologist will send the report to the building speech path for the meeting, but not necessarily appear in person. The bilingual speech pathologist usually only evaluates and does not appear due to time constraints and scheduling of other evaluations.
Another scenario where two speech paths would be involved on one case would be for children aged 3 to 5. Federal special education laws (aka IDEA) specify that children as young as age three who are at risk of struggling at school are eligible to start their education. Many school districts manage that age group separately from a neighborhood school. I’ve seen school districts operate some kind of “early childhood center” where parents are referred when there is a concern. Although that can be sometimes challenging for a parent to navigate to a facility outside of their own neighborhood, usually the speech therapists and other developmental professionals are more experienced with that age group.
Depending on the early childhood student’s needs, the meeting might be held back at the neighborhood school instead of the early childhood center. If the student was flagged for speech only, then most likely the student would be sent back to this/her local school for the completion of the IEP and development of the therapeutic goals. Every district is different, but the evaluating speech therapist may make goal recommendations.
But most of the time, in my experience, the evaluating speech pathologist writes a thorough speech-language evaluation and not the goals. In my personal experience, I have had no trouble extracting relevant information from a speech report written by another speech pathologist, even if it’s about an age group I usually don’t work with.