One of the first things on your mind as you head back to another school year is scheduling. In the past, I’ve shared how I do my schedule for traditional therapy. Today, I wanted to share some information about a flexible service model that my school district implemented. In my district, you’ll hear SLPs and administrators calling it a Flexible Service Delivery Model rather than the 3:1 model but I’ll call it 3:1 throughout this post.
What is it?
A typical Weekly Schedule would include direct services provided on a weekly basis. For example, two 30-minute sessions per week. The 3:1 Model provides direct services for 3 weeks, followed by indirect services provided for 1 week.
Are there other flexible scheduling options?
Cyclical Schedule (e.g., Block scheduling): Direct services are provided for a specified period of time followed by a similar time of indirect services (e.g., 9 weeks of direct intervention, followed by 9 weeks of indirect services). Flex Schedule: The frequency, amount, and type of services vary based on student progress toward IEP goals or changing classroom demands. Receding Schedule: Initial service involves intense amounts of direct services, which is then reduced over time based on student progress. Those are all different from 3:1.
Why a 3:1 model?
“Education law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA 2004) supports serving students in the least restrictive environment (LRE), which can be interpreted not only as a place but also as inclusion with typical peers.”(Flynn, 2010)
The 3:1 model can increase the classroom carryover in two ways. First, the SLP will be going into the classroom to target carryover and intervention directly. Second, the SLP will collaborate with the teacher to develop supports for each student in the classroom to increase carryover and generalization of skills. Simply put, a traditional schedule doesn’t allow time for collaboration or push-in therapy. We know that means we’re not meeting the needs of the students.
What do you do in your indirect week?
Some direct services, make-up sessions, testing, data collection, report writing, IEP meetings, collaborate with teachers, observe students in classrooms, run RtI groups (5 days in a row of intervention!), run social groups, complete screenings. ((I’d love to her more of what you do! Hit me up in the comments!)
Changing to 3:1 in your district.
I know every district is different, but I want to give you an idea of how our district went about changing. We spent a a school year researching flexible service delivery models. We compiled evidence about workload/caseload. We highlighted the benefits of teacher collaboration and push-in services during the indirect week. We also anticipated less cancellations of therapy to complete testing or for holding meetings. The indirect week also allowed us to make-up missed sessions, increasing overall service minutes. We emphasized workload functions to be completed with flexible service delivery model.
As the year progressed and we wrote IEPs, we changed the service minutes to reflect the 3:1 model that would begin the next school year. We explained the benefits of teacher collaboration, consultative services and push-in services with the new model to parents and administrators throughout the year in IEP meetings. At the end of the year, we presented our proposal to the administrators and they accepted the program. We piloted the program for one year, where SLPs had a choice to either use 3:1 or continue to use the traditional therapy. After one year, all the SLPs in the district were pleased with the success of the program and decided to implement the service model district -wide in the elementary and secondary programs. At the preschool level, the team already uses a full-time push-in model following flex scheduling as the caseload changes over the year. The preschool services remained on their original flex scheduling plan.
Do you use the 3:1 model for every student?
No. Students with severe/profound delays, students with Apraxia, or other specific delays might not be appropriate for this model. For those students, we continued to use the traditional therapy model.
How to make Flexible Service Delivery Successful:
A year of of piloting the 3:1 model yielded a variety of experiences. At our last meeting of the year these were some of the things shared that made SLPs really successful.
-Share you schedule on your door during your indirect week. Grab a white-board and just make general notes (ie: 730-9 IEP Meetings, 9-11 Testing, 11-12 Programming AAC devices, 1230-330 Classroom Push-in, 330-430 IEP meeting).
– Be proactive about PR. Never call it the 3:1 model outside of your speech team. There is one reason for that. PR. Calling it the 3:1 model might lead teachers, administrators, and parents to consider that a week of vacation for you. In reality, our SLPs were busier on their indirect week than their therapy week.
– Collaborate to schedule indirect weeks at the beginning of the year. Keep those indirect weeks the same across the district to allow for speech/SpEd meetings.
– Plan ahead. There will always be a random evaluation thrown on your desk that you have 4 days to finish. Those things can’t be helped but most of your year can be planned out. Make sure you work ahead to complete re-eval testing during the indirect services week.
-Spend teacher consultation time wisely. Find out when the grade level teachers have common planning time. Schedule 15 minutes to meet with them during your indirect week. This will allow time to discuss specific student as well as grade level learning targets and concerns.
-Be visible. Work hard to make sure you get into the classroom, even when it gets crazy. This helps with the PR!
Where can I find out more?
Does it really work?
Although my district has had great success with the 3:1 model so far, I wanted to collect some extra opinions on the topic, so I polled SLPs on Facebook. Here are some of their experiences and comments:
I love my 3:1 schedule! Pros: I actually have time for longer assessments including the ADOS. I can usually complete paperwork WITHIN my duty day if i plan things out and work ahead. It also allows for make ups and flexibility. Teachers love having me in the classroom and they are much more collaborative when I come to them. I also feel like I have caught more kids to refer earlier because I am in the classroom. Cons: Some of my students don’t handle the schedule change very well. I have a few that I just keep their regular schedule. I have had a few teachers who resist the idea of having me in the classroom or who don’t fully understand the model, but it makes a great way to educate my co-workers. – Caroline Hardyman
I am an SLP and was not sold on the positives that 3:1 model was supposed to bring. I do have to say though, after completing the first year on the program, I do like it. We do not do push-in therapy, well at least I don’t do it, so that is not a positive for me. In that one week I can get SO much accomplished; testing, IEP’s, parent phone calls, creating materials, research for therapy sessions and collaborating with other SLP’s. Our hearing screening is scheduled during this time as well as our district SLP meetings. If there is a particular week that there will be a large number of CC that involve me, I can switch that consult week so I don’t have to miss groups. Overall, I think it has decreased the amount of groups that I have to skip and if I do have to skip one or two, I can make them up during that week. There are a couple of months that I choose not to do the consult week especially if we have missed because of snow days or during the months when we have winter and spring break. with that week that I can do all of the paperwork, I am just there for the kids the remaining three weeks. Margaret Sterker-Lepay
Our district uses it and some love it. Truthfully, I don’t really use the consult week at all unless I am way behind on evaluations and medicaid billing. Usually it’s just business as usual for me… My favorite part about it, however, is that it gives the flexibility to do consult and paperwork if I need it. – Cheri Chin
Absolutely love this model!! My school is on its 7th year using this model and it definitely allows for more teacher consultations, classroom observations to observe carryover of learned skills, time to make up sessions missed due to meetings, meet with students for individualized data collection….my indirect service weeks are far more busy than my direct service weeks. They are also predetermined at the beginning of the year and the dates are sent out to teachers. All related service providers use this model and its up to the clinician if they feel an individual student absolutely needs that consistency and fourth week of service. I don’t have enough good things to say about this model! -Angela Laroc
We used it when we absolutely had to – drowning! However almost impossible to use every month – not worth parent and teacher backlash. – Amy O’Brien
I felt like the Facebook commenters all had really great experience except when their staff had a bad impression about what happens during the indirect week. Appropriate PR will really make the difference. If you can take the time to change IEP minutes across and entire year, it gives you the opportunity to make your ‘pitch’ to every parent and classroom teacher during the IEP team meeting.
Leave a comment with your feedback or experience!
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