How RDA Impacts Related Services Professionals

This post is the seventh in a series based on a transcript from a recent Q&A with Dr. Alan Coulter as part of his webinar, “Prepare for Impact: 3 Key Questions About RDA for Every SPED Administrator.” Questions came directly from audience participants — special education directors, special educators and clinicians, and answers are from Dr. Coulter. Click here to see additional questions from the Q&A.

How does RDA impact related service professionals like SLP, OTs, school psychologists, and so on?

I’m a recovering school psychologist myself. I haven’t actually done it in a while, but that is the theoretical orientation from which I come. Before that, I was a teacher in high school. And I know that related services professionals are all being challenged now to basically connect what they do to the extent to which it really improves the achievement of students. I think ASHA has done a wonderful job of showing how the work that speech-language pathologists do connects to literacy, and how that connection to literacy and the use of language affects all the other achievement aspects of what they do.

School psychologists in particular have worked very, very hard to connect their related services to how they affect a student’s achievement and the outcomes that students have over time. So everyone in the related services professions needs to think not just about how they are meeting individual needs of kids specific to eligibility per related services, but also how what they do actually connects to improving student achievement, especially where they can offer evidence from their research that the kinds of things that they offer have a direct connection to affecting student achievement and whether kids are going to exit school as successful learners and good members of their community.

Dr. Alan Coulter is an expert in special education accountability, and has worked at the federal, state, and local level on accountability issues for over twenty-five years. He has served on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, and is currently the Director of Education Initiatives and an Associate Professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences and Human Development Center. Alan is also the director of the TIERS Group (Teams Intervening Early to Reach all Students). TIERS consults with state DOEs and district administrators on the quality and use of special education data. Alan is a key participant in the national discussion regarding Results Driven Accountability and focused monitoring.  His scholarly work and research is widely published in academic journals.