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Speech in the Schools

Service Delivery: RtI and 3:1 Models

Published September 7, 2010 11:19 AM by Alexandra Streeter
At a workshop I attended a few weeks ago, I heard an amazing SLP named Lorraine Maida from the Tacoma School District. I attended her presentations on RtI (Response to Intervention), the 3:1 model (three weeks per month of direct services with one week for collaboration) in which she also discussed the workload versus caseload formula her school district uses for caseloads. 

Although my district is using RtI for academics and a district wide behavior program, the SLPs are not funded to work with non special education students. The idea is certainly intriguing, and it would be great to see how providing intervention for at risk kids made a difference.

The 3:1 model is interesting to me. As many of you know, districts that use this model provide three weeks of direct therapy, and one week of collaboration. As Maida said, the fourth week is NOT a "week off!"  I would love to have more time for collaboration with all teachers. I am looking forward to returning to work and having a discussion with my fellow SLPs about whether or not this model is something we want to try.  I do have some reservations: teachers already have a lot on their plates. I'm not sure that I really want to impose even MORE collaboration meetings and ideas upon them. I also feel as if I get my job done in the time I have. 

For those of you using Response to Intervention and/or a 3:1 model:

  • How has it impacted your therapy?
  • How has it benefited your students?
  • How has the transition been in your buildings?
  • Were administrators receptive and open to the idea?
  • Have all therapists used this model in your district, or just a few? How about special education teachers?

Please comment either here on the blog or on the Advance Facebook page.

I will discuss the caseload versus workload model in a later blog entry.


I am currently researching the 3:1 model and want to thank you for the information and for the follow up comments. One question I have is how you reflect the amount of services in the IEP. So, for instance, if I would implement the 3:1 model at the start of next school year, do I need to change the amount of speech therapy stated on current IEPs?

Thanks for any information you have.


Amy Rohl, SLP May 8, 2012 1:18 PM
Spring Valley WI

After my last post, I was thrilled to read your comments about caseload issues. I was also pleased to

January 24, 2011 10:23 AM

I regularly collaborate by doing whole classroom sessions. The thing SLPs need to remember is their purpose in the collaborative setting, which is to assist those students with an IEP and address the objectives stated in the IEP.  That non-special ed students can benefit during a collaborative session is a plus, but not the purpose of the SLP being in the classroom.

IDEA and most state guidelines prohibit SLPs from providing regular instruction to non-special ed students without first following due process procedures.  In collaboration, since we're targeting the students with IEPs, not the non-identified kids,  I think we're within compliance of the law.  However, this has numerous implications for SLPs considering directly implementing RTI or providing regular instruction to students who have not been identified through due process.  

RTI was intended for students who are struggling academically or behaviorally and is meant as a first line of action for general education staff to implement.  If the SLP is providing direct intervention to students who have not been identified through due process, they are opening themselves up to major liabilities by violating federal and state legislation.   For one, denying a student the right to a complete evaluation prior to placement is a major infraction of due process.   Wouldn't that be an ASHA ethics violation as well----holding the client's welfare paramount---evaluation of the client prior to therapy???  If the SLP is providing instruction in an RTI model, what differentiates that from being placed in special education?  If a student hasn't been identified by due process, we shouldn't touch it in the public schools.

It seems that everyone, including ASHA, is on this RTI bandwagon, without considering what the law states.  After reading IDEA and our state legislation for myself, using data to prove eligiblity doesn't even apply to communication disorders.  It is an alternative for placement for learning disabilities.  

Speech and Language abilities are not academic skills; either you possess them or you don't.  These contribute to academic performance, so if a student who is struggling with reading or writing continues to struggle following an RTI process that the classroom teacher has implemented through Tier I and II,  perhaps a screening to see if language or speech might be interferring followed by evaluation for speech or language therapy according to due process procedures should be considered a Tier II intervention in itself.  

I am not saying that a little intervention prior to the evaluation wouldn't be a good thing, but the laws governing our practice in public school settings prohibit this.  If I were in private practice, perhaps a quick session to instruct the parents to give reminders to the student might be appropriate before spending hundreds of their own dollars on an evaluation and therapy.  But, since we aren't in that setting, SLPs should read their state and federal laws for themselves instead of blindly following what they are told to do.  

Brenda, School - SLP October 2, 2010 3:05 PM
Lexington KY

I am unfamiliar with the 3:1 model.  However, IDEA 2004 provides 15% of the funding for non-EC children.  That doesn't say that your district will allow you to devote six hours per week in that manner.  Yet your consultation in interventions to determine potential EC placement IS funded and required.  The mathematical difference between 25% of the 3:1 and the 15% of IDEA 2004 is a lot.  Clearly, our schools are funded based on the numbers of Special Education children we serve.  This is a balancing act that can only be done with District input.

Jeffrey, EC - SLP, Tryon Elementary September 16, 2010 8:47 PM
Tryon NC

I found this post very interesting. I have not heard about the 3:1 model. So, to clarify, you see all students directly for 3 weeks then use one week to collaborate? Are all of your students with IEP's in certain classrooms? I'm not sure how that would work for me because so many of my students are in different classrooms. Are you mostly targeting RtI students during this one collaborative week? I would love any suggestions! I currently have 36 students  with IEP's and 27 RtI students on my caseload. Some of my student's have 3-5 times of speech per week. I would definitely like to be in collaboration more than I am currently.  

Holly, Speech Pathologist September 14, 2010 11:28 AM
Dublin GA

I also attended Lorraine's conference.  My district's SLPs and I have been interested in other forms of service deliver for some time.  We've also participated in similar service delivery option inservices by Judy Montgomery.  We have actively participated in RtI in our district for 3-4 years and it has been a blessing for our caseloads.  We are able to see kids who have specific, treatable needs, such as an invidual sound error, mild fluency, etc., without an IEP or the slew of time consuming paperwork that comes with that.  We've been able to intervene quickly and often for a shorter time, and reduce our special ed. caseloads significantly.  I am VERY interested in also switching to a 3:1 caseload/workload model so more time can be devoted to collaboration, education of parents and teachers, testing and intradepartmental collaboration among the SLPs.  I believe it is a win win situation.

Linda McWherter, MHS, CCC-SLP

Harvard Illinois school district

Linda McWherter, Speech Lang. Path. - SLP, k-12 schools September 9, 2010 9:36 PM
Harvard IL

As a district we started using the 3:1 service delivery model last year and found it a success.  Not only was it beneficial to get in the classrooms at various times, but the teachers appreciated being able to collaborate more often, the student sessions were not cancelled due to meetings, and we could spend the needed time talking with parents.  I could continue on with the advantages of this model but one of our biggest surprises was discovered when we realized the number of dismissals rose by over 70%!  Luckily we are continuing the model this year and will analyze again in June to monitor the success again.  I highly recommend this model for the benefit of the students!

Julie Matt, S/L - CCC-SLP, K-8 School September 9, 2010 2:03 PM
Hartland WI

We use the 3:1 model in our district.  I love it. All of our SLP take our indirect during the same week.   We use it to go into the classrooms, do make up therapy sessions for students we missed due to case conferences, illness, ect...   I also schedule do my evaluations during that time.   In the buildings where I work, the teachers were very flexible with the change over.  In order for the change to be accepted we had to present the idea to all the principals at a district meeting and the school board.  Because our director of special ed was behind the idea, we were able to get the entire district behind us.  Currently only our SLP's participate in our 3:1 models.  

We are starting Rti in our district with my elementary school being one of the pilot buildings.   We are in our 2nd year and still working all the kinks out, but as an SLP I provide Rti services with non-IEP kids doing phonemic awareness, LiPs, Visualizing and Verbalizing and vocabulary groups to our at risk K students.   It is a lot of work and I worry about funding since we are technically not "paid" to work with these students.  But I can see how it has decrease the number of students in special education.

Suzanne Aden, schools - Speech Pathologist , Elementary school September 9, 2010 1:21 PM
New Haven IN

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About this Blog

    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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