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Group Offers Yardstick for Evaluating Speech-Language Pathologists

From guest blogger Kimberly Shannon

With value-added assessments for teachers growing more popular among states and local districts, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association decided it was time to create new accountability measures for speech-language pathologists.

The Performance Assessment of Contributions and Effectiveness, or PACE, has been designed to "more accurately reflect" the speech-language pathologist's role in furthering a child's academic success, according to a press release from the association yesterday.

The measure consists of a portfolio review, self-reports, and on-site classroom observation. The PACE matrix focuses on demonstrated knowledge of subject area and ability to provide appropriate services compliant with state and federal regulations. It also looks for collaboration with teachers and family, as well as efforts to seek out sufficient professional development opportunities. Student, parent, and teacher checklists are also included on the PACE webpage for school administrators' use. The ASHA says states and local districts can use all or part of the entire document in the development of their own measures for speech-language pathologists.

"We hope that school districts will adopt PACE to support an accurate determination of our members' critical roles in improving student performance," ASHA President Shelly Chabon says.

One hope behind the effort is that the availability of evaluation measures tailored to speech-language pathologists will prevent districts and schools from lumping them into value-added evaluation programs meant for regular classroom teachers. When the ASHA Value-Added Project Team searched for research to support evaluating speech-language pathologists based on high-stakes testing, "No evidence was found to support this practice," according to a preface in the document. The document also cites reasons why teacher evaluations could not be used accurately for speech-language pathologists, including that teachers spend much more time with students, that SLPs address certain skills rather than exclusive subjects, and that they do not have as much opportunity to consult with other colleagues.

Besides a review of the research that informed PACE developers, the document also includes background information on value-added measures, a detailed explanation of the role of a speech-language pathologist, an overview of the PACE process, and suggestions for the advocacy of PACE at the state and local levels.


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