In this last issue of Volume 40, the invited issue editor, Dr. Kelly Farquharson, brings together researchers from across the country and the globe who have a strong devotion to helping school-based speech–language pathologists provide evidence-based, educationally impactful services to the students on their caseloads. Two articles deal with services to children with speech sound disorders. Cabbage and DeVeney (this issue) present diverse intervention paradigms for speech sound disorders of unknown etiology—namely, the cycles, contrasts, and complexity therapeutic approaches—and describe how the selected treatment approach may be based on the types and patterns of sound production errors, consistency of those errors, stimulability for correct sound production, and concomitant language concerns. Ireland, McLeod, Farquharson, and Crowe (this issue) discuss means for effectively navigating federal and state laws, regulations, and guidance regarding when a student with a speech sound disorder also may be considered a student who is eligible for the receipt of special education and related services (including speech therapy), which does not always go hand in hand because of the three successive “gates” used to determine special education eligibility: (1) Does the child have a disability that is encompassed by one of the categories identified in federal legislation? (2) Does the disability have an adverse impact on the child's educational or functional performance and/or progress (including academic, social, and behavioral aspects of development)? (3) Does the child require specialized instruction to participate/make adequate progress in the general education curriculum (or appropriate preschool activities)? Their article also provides an overview of more recent articulation development research that suggests most children in the United States and other English-speaking nations should be able to correctly produce just about all English consonant sounds, even those once considered “late-developing,” by the age of 5 years.
The remaining four articles address language and literacy interventions for children with speech and language disorders. Tambyraja and Schmitt (this issue) make a strong case for why school-based speech–language pathologists should integrate literacy (they focus on reading in their article, but writing should not be ignored by practitioners) into their services for students, including the mandate to do so promulgated in recent national certification and practice standards for the profession. The authors discuss a number of barriers clinicians may face in addressing literacy in school settings and offer some practical suggestions to overcome them. Their article sets the stage for the last few articles, in which literacy or literacy-related interventions and assessments that may be employed by school-based speech–language pathologists are described and evaluated. Gillon, McNeill, Denston, Scott, and Macfarlane (this issue) report the effects of a 10-week teacher-led whole-class literacy intervention, the Better Start Literacy Approach, that combined code-based and language-based activities on the speech, language, and word-level reading and spelling outcomes for children with weak oral language or weak oral language plus speech sound production difficulties.
Koutsoftas, Srivastava, and Harris (this issue) present a spelling coding rubric that includes 15 codes to represent four primary types of knowledge needed for spelling: phonological, orthographic, morphological (both structural and semantic), and mental graphemic representations of words in long-term memory. The rubric can be used to assess spelling performance in actual writing samples (rather than just on dictated word lists) and changes in spelling performance due to application of the writing process. Petersen, Mesquita, Spencer, and Waldron (this issue) examine the feasibility of a multitiered (whole-class plus small-group) oral narrative language intervention, Story Champs, for improving narrative skills, reading comprehension, and writing performance using a sample of typically developing second graders.
We hope readers will find the information in these articles helpful for their clinical activities in schools on behalf of children with speech sound disorders and reading and writing challenges. Schools are complex organizations where policies, practices, and people sometimes falter in achieving intended objectives. Nevertheless, shared values and insights, communicated, in part, through research articles like those here, go far in helping attain the goal of providing the best therapeutic services to the students who need them.
—Gary A. Troia, PhD, CCC-SLP
—Sarah E. Wallace, PhD, CCC-SLP