Any school-based therapist who hopes to be effective and efficient will need to find or create high-quality caseload management tools. There’s simply so much information you must track and have access to at a moment’s notice, including:
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) due dates
- Evaluation and reevaluation report dates
- Reports of student progress
- Details about—and results from—screenings conducted
- Records of contacts with teachers and families
Taking Your First Steps Toward Better Caseload Management
Sometimes, simply starting to get organized is the hardest part.
Speaking of Speech offers several premade documents you can use without charge as your starting point.
The site lists the caseload management category on the left, then gives the link to the file on the right. Examples include an IEP date calendar, progress logs, and a teacher communication form. You can always tailor these materials to fit individual needs later on.
While I’ve used prefabricated worksheets, my go-to method of tracking students and due dates has been making my own Excel spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet has evolved with my need for various pieces of information. It’s grown to include the student’s name, date of birth, grade, frequency of services, IEP date, reevaluation date, and case manager. I can easily adjust it, adding and subtracting categories and data with little effort.
Documenting Your Students’ Progress on Paper or in Pixels
Monitoring and demonstrating student progress is another vital part of caseload management. Such reporting not only shows whether and how students are reaching goals but also serves as legal documentation for students who fall under Medical ACCESS billing.
You can track student progress on paper or electronically.
The paper method I use daily is from PTS’ own site. I fill out a data collection sheet for each session. I list the student’s goals and record relevant data. Then I can analyze the data set for each goal from the sessions conducted.
One electronic progress tracking tool is the Therapy Report Center from Smarty Ears. I haven’t personally used it, but an electronic caseload management tool like this one provides a reliable way to keep student information together in one place. Also, it doesn’t require clinicians to interpret the data.
Navigating the New Environment of Virtual Therapy
In the COVID-19 pandemic, the school-based SLP’s environment for treating students shifted dramatically.
Therapists were suddenly providing services from any space in their homes with adequate lighting, a stable internet connection, and more than a moment’s quiet! Weekly participation in live virtual sessions made up more than half the caseload I carried during the school year.
Zoom and Google Meet have become two popular platforms for delivering related services remotely. Sometimes, school districts mandate which platform therapists use.
Overall, my Zoom experiences have been positive. My secure personal meeting code lets me transition seamlessly from one student to another—a huge benefit when conducting back-to-back sessions throughout the day. Students and parents simply click my posted session link at the scheduled time. I control who enters the meeting and when.
Background environments often include uncontrolled stimuli. Other family members, pets, and more can interrupt, causing the student to lose focus and costing us both precious time. Finding effective ways to engage students is paramount.
UltimateSLP offers fun games and other activities to keep students engaged as they work on articulation and language goals. Some materials are free; however, the site charges a monthly fee for full access to its expansive library. Several clinicians feel it’s worth the price.
I frequently used my iPhone to convert a paper document into a digital file. In the iPhone’s “Notes” application, select the camera icon to take a picture of the paper or to scan the document. You can email the document to yourself and then open and save it to your computer. When you share the document on your screen with students during a session, they can annotate and write on it as if they were still in the classroom.
I used SignUp.com to schedule daily, weekly, and monthly sessions. Parents chose when they wanted their children to receive speech services from the timeslots I made available. This approach gave families flexibility and a sense of control I feel contributed to online sessions’ success.
How PTS Sets Up School-Based Clinicians Like You to Succeed
As special education caseloads keep getting bigger, strong caseload management tools become more critical than ever.
At PTS, we set up clinicians for success in caseload management and all aspects of school-based practice. From our large (and ever-growing) lending library of industry-standard evaluations and assessments, to always accessible supervisors and mentors, to ongoing opportunities for networking and professional development—we do all we can to help therapists do more good for more students while building a long and rewarding career.
Want to know more? Check out our currently available positions and get more details about what working with PTS is like!