Also known as Adventures in Action…
Alternatively known as Quit your Whining and DO something!
More effectively known as: It’s Time to Work Together to Accomplish Change!
Earlier this year, I posted this about how certain states require SLPs working in schools to have a teaching certification or at least lead people to believe those requirements exist.
After a conversation on twitter, this subject has come up again. There was much outrage, anger, and disgust. So I decided to do some research…Want to know what I found out?
First…Let me say this: in no way do I hold myself above Teachers. I have the highest regard for the profession as a whole and firmly believe the fate of the world lies with them. However, I am not a teacher. I do not TEACH. I provide THERAPY – much like a physical therapist or an occupational therapist. A doctor is not a lawyer, a lawyer is not a dentist, an SLP is not a teacher – regardless of where (s)he works. They are all worthy individuals and much needed professions – but they are not the same.
Second, I have to say some state rules and regulations were obviously written by people who get paid by the word. A more convoluted mess of of tangled information with links that go nowhere I have never seen…and yes, New York and Pennsylvania Offices of Public Instruction, I’m looking at you! Not only is the information tangled – there’s no email link to someone who might be able to help…(I’m fairly sure that’s on purpose). Please, do everyone a favor – revamp your Requirements for Certification pages and make them actually usable…please? ((*updated to add: I finally found a contact that might help – but it wasn’t on the teacher certification page – it’s on the office of professionals page. firstname.lastname@example.org))
Now that I’ve completed that rant…let’s move on to the subject at hand.
I chose a few different states to look at. I’m going to include North Dakota since that’s where I’m currently working…but I’ll put that information last.
One of the first states I chose was New York – simply because I know that’s a hot mess of certification (and I’m not even going to go into the difference between speech-language pathologists and speech therapists and MS vs BS [and it’s a lot of BS if I say so myself] because that’s a completely different post and I try really hard to only rock the boat in one direction per post.)
According to the Office of the Professions to work as a Speech-Language Pathologist (or Audiologist) one must have a state license except in “exempt” settings. The “exempt” settings include:
- Federal, State or local governments
- Public or nonpublic elementary or secondary schools
- Colleges and universities
“NOTE: To provide speech services in a public school in New York State, “Teacher Certification” is the appropriate credential. For information regarding teacher certification, contact the Office of Teaching Initiatives at 518-474-3901.” After trying to navigate this
oh-so-helpful website for more than 2 3 hours, I finally gave up. The requirements will remain in the murky recesses of a poorly designed website.
Then I found (thanks Aubrey!) this helpful website. Where I found this:
What credential is required to provide speech and/or language clinical services to children?
Answer: If you hold a certificate as a teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped, you may provide speech and/or language services as an employee of a school or center-based pre-school. To provide speech or language services independently or in a clinic, you must hold a license and current registration as a speech-language pathologist. If you contract with schools or agencies to provide clinical speech and/or language services in the schools or on an itinerant basis (i.e. you are not an employee), you must hold a speech-language pathology license and current registration as well as certification as a teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped. The table “Who may lawfully provide speech services in an elementary, middle, secondary school or a preschool?” summarizes the distinctions.
What I interpret this to say is that in order to work in the school (either as a school employee or a contractor), the SLP must have a teacher certification. This site supports that interpretation.
What I have been unable to find anywhere is the rationale behind the requirement. Even more interestingly, Occupational Therapists working in the schools do not seem to be held to the same requirements. Hmm.. That’s a bit…disconcerting. (I’ve sent an email requesting the justification for the requirement. I’ll let you know what they say – if they even respond.)
Let me say, the Illinois Speech-Language Hearing Association website was a joy to peruse after the previous websites. It was very straightforward and easy to navigate. Thank you!
In a nutshell, Illinois requires teacher certification to work in the schools. In fact, they have five different type of teacher certifications for SLPs. For three of them (10, 03, 09) the certificate allows them to be the “sole teacher of a self-contained Communications Disorders Classroom.” Hmm. (I interpret that as a self-contained classroom for students with Autism. Although I may be wrong.) The remaining two teacher certifications are for those who don’t want to be the sole teacher in a self-contained classroom, and essentially a provisional certificate while you’re working on the previous one.
IF the purpose of the teaching certificate for the first three (10, 03, 09) is because they are the sole teacher and will be teaching curriculum (math, reading, social studies, health, etc.) and the students do not have a true teacher – it makes sense for these certificates. The SLP/Teacher in this case IS the teacher and is responsible for making sure the student is educated to the best of his/her ability. Sadly, I’m not sure why they have the requirement for the other. (It’d also be interesting to determine how many of these “self contained Communication Disorders Classrooms exist.) I’ve worked in a self-contained classroom for students with autism, but the lead teacher was a teacher with autism specialization, not the SLP…although we did work closely with her.
If we jump across the river to Missouri…we find that they also require teacher certification to work in schools. But, sadly, no explanation as to why.
According to this (subsection G), it looks as though Texas only requires a License…and in fact, no longer issues teacher certificates for SLPs to work in schools. Wow! Texas saw the error of their ways?
According to this, Washington requires an “educational staff associates” certificate. But they require it of everyone – PT, OT, School Psych, School Nurses, etc. and it’s NOT a teaching certificate.
Rhode Island is content to let ASHA be the guiding force to provide a Speech-Language Certificate. Again, it’s a speech-language certificate – not a teaching certificate.
Sadly, the same thing cannot be said of Pennsylvania. I retrieved this off of the ASHA website because the Pennsylvania Dept. of Ed. website was a tad …. confusing. But, here is what ASHA stated. In addition to a Master’s degree and completion of the Praxis II (which is the post-grad assessment specific for speech-language pathology):
Individuals applying for an initial certificate (Instructional I) are required to take the PPST Reading, PPST Writing, PPST Mathematics, and Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge (all K-6 and K-12 areas) in addition to the appropriate subject assessment test(s).
*See rant below
Florida was a bit trickier to figure out. It looks as though the SLP working in the schools is required to have a state license or ASHA CCCs and simply send a letter to the Dept. of Education.
From the ASHA website, “The ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) fulfills the testing and program requirements for speech-language pathologist certification. Individuals may apply directly to the Oklahoma State Department of Education and enclosing verification or a copy of ASHA CCC.”
According to the ASHA website “A speech-language pathologist in public schools must possess either a State Board of Examiners license or the Education Standards and Practices Board’s Restricted Educator’s Professional license to practice in the public schools, or they may have both.”
I know first hand (I’ve refused their jobs), many school districts in North Dakota attempt to require SLPs to hold a Restricted Educator’s Professional license even though it is not a state mandate. However, by doing so, it locks the SLP into lower teacher wages and the teacher’s retirement fund. In all honesty, I don’t understand this. By having only the teaching certificate, the SLP can’t bill for medicaid which cuts into funding.
This is all food for thought…but now what?
As you can see some states require almost nothing while others require you to jump through so many hoops it’s daunting (not to mention deflating). As one SLP on twitter put it “Pennsylvania is ridiculous and not worth the effort for SLPs educated out of state.” Ouch Pennsylvania…and that’s from someone who is practicing there!
Now…This is where I am going to rant for just a tiny bit. Please be warned…
If I, an SLP with years of experience, a state license, AND my ASHA CCCs, applied to work in the school settings in Pennsylvania, I would have to take the PPST assessments. That is… insulting. The PPST is a college sophomore level assessment designed to weed out those individuals who don’t have enough background knowledge (aka writing, math, and social studies not to mention common sense) to be successful in the College of Education. It’s the test students have to take BEFORE they are accepted into the College of Education…as college sophomores.
Essentially, what Pennsylvania is saying is that regardless of the fact that I have 1) already completed a bachelor’s degree, 2) taken the GRE, 3) completed a master’s degree, 4) taken (and passed) the SLP Praxis exam, 5) been supervised for a year and received my CCCs from ASHA, and 6) have years of experience – I have to take this test that entry level educators have to take. Uhmm. no. Needless to say, I won’t be moving to Pennsylvania any time soon.
Please know…it’s not the degree of difficulty of the test. It’s the fact that 1) it’s designed for teachers and SLPs ARE NOT TEACHERS, 2) it’s for college sophomores not seasoned professionals, and 3) it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the field.
Now to be fair to Pennsylvania – North Dakota also requires the SLP to take the Praxis I (PPST) in order to get their teacher certificate…However, it does NOT require the teacher certificate in order to work in the schools. In fact, the Dept. of Education has valid arguments for both. Read the arguments here (page 11). I’m betting they will work for other states as well.
So…Please tell me. What does your state REQUIRE for you to work in the schools? Are you sure? If your state requires you to obtain a teaching certificate – how do you feel about it? Are you a teacher? Drop me a note…let me know!
Until then…Adventure on!