The following ISHA Guidance document was reviewed by the ISHA Task Force on SLP Educator Evaluation in 2012 as a resource for members. Please note that ISHA does not endorse or advocate the use of any particular tool or process as a means of compensating or evaluating the performance of SLPs under IC 20-29-2-4.
Indiana Education Law
Indiana 515 IAC 8-1-16 includes Communication Disorders as an instructional content area. Regardless of the logic (or lack thereof) behind categorizing a group of “disorders” as an instructional content area, the change was made as a part of Rules 2002 and remains as a part of the current educator licensing law (REPA II). As the holder of the license with Communication Disorders listed as the instructional content area, speech language pathologists are eligible to serve students with communication disorders in any school setting. Of course SLPs licensed prior to Rules 2002 will likely hold other valid license types.
Given that all other practitioners eligible for licensure in an instructional content area are “teachers”, questions regarding the definition of “teacher” as it relates to the new SEA 1 Teacher Effectiveness law are being asked around the state. The following interpretation of the definition of “teacher” in IC 20-18-22 as it relates to “teacher evaluation” was provided by Labor Policy Counsel for the Indiana Department of Education, Andrew J. Kossack, in response to the following question asked by the ISHA Task Force.
Q: May a district place educators including speech language pathologists, school psychologists, school nurses, and school counselors into a separate group for the purpose of performance evaluation and compensation?
A: The definition of “teacher” now reads as follows:
Sec. 22. (a) "Teacher" means a professional person whose position in a school corporation requires certain educational preparation and licensing and whose primary responsibility is the instruction of students.
(b) For purposes of IC 20-28, the term includes the following:
(1) A superintendent.
(2) A principal.
(3) A teacher.
(4) A librarian.
For purposes of the new laws regarding compensation (IC 20-28-9), a “teacher” as defined above does not appear to include speech language pathologists, school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, etc. Theoretically, it appears legally permissible to have such educators on a separate track from the individuals defined as “teachers” in IC 20-18-2-22 above.
For purposes of evaluations, the law requires each school corporation to “develop a plan for annual performance evaluations for each “certificated employee” (as defined in IC 20-29-2-4). Here is the definition of “certificated employee” for annual performance evaluation purposes:
Sec. 4. "Certificated employee" means a person:
(1) whose contract with the school corporation requires that the person hold a license or permit from the division of professional standards of the department under IC 20-28; or
(2) who is employed as a teacher by a charter school established under IC 20-24.
The definition of “certificated employee” appears to cover speech language pathologists. In other words, it appears that professionals who do not fall under the definition of “teacher” (as defined in IC 20-18-2-22) should be evaluated annually in accordance with IC 20-28-11.5, but increases in their compensation need not comply with IC 20-28-9. However, nothing appears to prevent a corporation from including all certificated employees in the compensation system designed for teachers. There is flexibility for that decision to be made at the local level.
Considerations for Member Self-Advocacy
Based on the interpretation provided above by IDOE’s Legal Policy Counsel, the following appears to be true for school-based SLPs:
Resources for SLP Performance Assessment