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?
ASHA Website for School-Based Service Delivery Models
Comparison by Judy Montgomery: ASHA Presentation
Evidence-Based Systematic Review: Effects of Different Service Delivery Models on Communication Outcomes for Elementary School–Age Children
25+ Strategies to make 3:1 Service Delivery Work for You from Lancia, Noble & Sweeney
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!
Join the SRN newsletter!
I'm so glad you stopped by! If you'd like to keep up with the newest posts and get exclusive free downloads, please sign up for the newsletter! Your first freebie is ready as soon as you subscribe and confirm your email!
Mandi Schaumburg says
Hi! Jenna! Do you have a suggestion on what we could call the 3:1 model (for PR issues with staff?). Do you call it flexible service delivery? That is a good point about staff/parent perspective of the 3:1
We just call it Flexible Service Delivery. And we call it the ‘indirect week’ or ‘collaborative week’. I think my district did a GREAT job at making sure staff and parents understand that it isn’t a week of writing lesson plans or a week of prep time. No one in my district told any stories about negative reactions but we all focused on making sure everyone understood.
How do you specify minutes & frequency on the IEP for both Direct & Consultative speech therapy service? Very informative article! Thanks
In my district I think it varies. I’ve seen people only write in the direct minutes. IE: Instead of 120 minutes per month they write 90 minutes per month. (or however many minutes you need – we always write per month). I have seen people write indirect minutes and it usually looks like this. 15 minutes indirect speech and language services per month that may include: Classroom observation, classroom services, student observation, collaboration with classroom teachers. I hope others will comment with how they write their minutes too!
we cannot do minutes per month in my district. It has to state exact frequency, ie; so many minutes per week. We tried the minutes per month and state department shot it down when our district was audited.
We use 3:1 model and have for a long time. We put in the amount of direct service for example 6×30 min monthly. We call week 4 our indirect week. We explain it in our LRE section. We explain to parents that we MAY see your child or not and give examples of what we do during this week. We also use this week to make up sessions or go into classrooms to check for carryover of skills
I struggle with how to collaborate with teachers and how to do push-in therapy. I have done traditional therapy for 10 years and I just can’t figure out how to do a push-in model for my artic or language students. I’d love to do this, but I almost need to observe someone doing push-in. Any suggestions???
I struggle with this too. I have been doing traditional therapy for 20+ years. Would love some more information/suggestions regarding push-in services. 🙂
Annie Doyle says
Great post! I forwarded to our SLPs and admin.
Our district has been using this model for 6 years now and we love it. We recently helped a neighboring school with their transition to his model. I also wrote a series of blog posts about it. I think so many SLPs WANT to switch to something more flexible. But it is often hard to know where to start. I didn’t realize all the questions and concerns that other SLPs had about it until we started the process of helping a neighboring district.
I am looking in to working for a district (currently practice in a clinic/private practice). I have been doing a TON of research and reading your blog like crazy. You have been SO helpful! Thank you. The article by Dr. Montgomery did not link to this post. Do you mind reposting the link in comments?
We approached our former supervisor about it, and, while he thought it was a good idea, he wasn’t able to okay it because of the funding. He couldn’t figure out how to make the time on our IEPs prevent us from losing money. 🙁
Mary, that was my first concern. The indirect services provided would not be “billable” services for those school districts receiving large amounts of Medicaid reimbursement.
Can you explain what “original flex scheduling plan” looks like in your preschool? Thanks!
Tiffany Patounas says
Any suggestions for forms to use to document how your time was spent during the indirect week?
Jo Anne says
Hi Jenna, I would love to see what Judy Montgomery’s presentation had to say about flexible scheduling. Can you repost with a working link? Thanks!
In my district/school a quarter is approximately 9 weeks – the 4 quarters make up the school year. On the IEP I have put: “30 minutes per session, in pullout/special education setting, 14 times per reporting period/quarter”. That usually leaves me the last week of the quarter to meet with teachers, share lesson plans, observe student in class, etc. Then I log that time as “contacts” or “observation”, or “other” or “additional services”. These are all options on our IEP computer system. The system also has “IEP” meetings and I put in the length of time I was at the meeting. These are not billable but they still justify my time as collaborating with the regular and special education teachers.
We follow this in our district. I like that it allows a “make up” session. So for 120 minutes a month, I probably have two 20 minute sessions/ week that I have three weeks (or in my mind 6 sessions a month) to get in. So it allows me to take a PD day and make it up during the indirect week or be flexible with scheduling ieps. I rarely have an indirect week that I am not seeing students or even feel comfortable purposely planning say an RTI group. I feel the flexibility of scheduling meetings/ assessments usually means a lot to make up but worth it. I had a friend who did four days a week direct/ 1 day (Friday) indirect. I always wanted to try this since then you would never schedule therapy on that day. She also worked in a preschool where there was no school Fridays which allowed planning/ collaboration. Pretty ideal. I often find that I have a hard time explaining it to the parents. It sounds like a week of no service which it really isn’t. I like the “flexible” name and will start using that!
Amanda Naumovich says
When doing this model with preschool students and providing push-in, what is your caseload size?
Thank you for this awesome post! How did your social groups work during the indirect week? Did you run the group once a month?
We’ve never formally called it “flexible scheduling,” but I think my district is pretty much doing a variation of this! All of the SLP’s in my district have an indirect day each Friday. That day can be used for meetings, evals, screenings, planning, collaboration with teachers, observations, make-up sessions, etc. It’s usually a busy day, but it’s nice to know that once we make it through Monday-Thursday, we have a day that’s a little less structured. It’s also nice to, a couple times a year, get together as a group (4 SLPs in the district) to
bounce ideas off each other.
Eric Young says
I am curious if any therapist has had success in a New York state district? Thanks!
Laura T says
Thanks for this great post! When transitioning services from a weekly model a 3:1 model, how has it been explained to parents?
I have to admit I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe someone has already addressed this issue. I work in a preschool program (SDC and early intervention services which are 2-3 times weekly for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes per session.) Our district has a lot of weeks off during the school year (a week in November, a week in February, and 2 weeks in December). What do you do with these months, so that a student is not going several weeks without services?