A Professional Lifeline for Your Caseload Woes


by Jean Polichino, OTR, MS, FAOTA

Senior Director, School-Based Therapy Services, Harris County Dept. of Education




Have you wished there was some way you could help your special education administration understand the challenges you face every day as a school therapist?  Well you will be glad to know that help is finally here!

Late this summer, the national professional associations supporting OTs, PTs and SLPs issued a joint publication that urges transitioning from caseload to workload approaches for these three related services.  In 2002, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) developed a position paper that provided rationale for such a transition as well as methodology for identifying all the activities school practitioners engage in. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) followed suit, publishing Practice Tips for OTs and OTAs on transforming from caseload to workload in 2006 (an update is in press as I write this). In the new joint publication, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has joined their school therapy colleagues in urging the transition to a workload paradigm.

Originating in traditional clinical settings, a caseload perspective reflects the number of students assigned to a practitioner – in some cases with no consideration for the intensity or duration of services, time at ARD meetings or time completing documentation.  A workload perspective includes all the many things we do in the interest of students, including those in general education. It considers time for data collection and analysis, early intervening (pre-referral) activities, maintaining equipment inventories, participating on school problem-solving teams, teacher trainings, and collaboration. The document published by AOTA, APTA and AHSA highlights benefits to schools for embracing a workload approach – greater efficiency in staffing, retention of scarce personnel and improved student outcomes. 

Check out the joint statement, entitled, Workload Approach: A Paradigm Shift for Positive Impact on Student Outcomes.  Share it with your supervisor and colleagues! You will find it at this link:​



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Jean Polichino, OTR, MS, FAOTA


​Transitioning from caseload to workload.

Created at 9/27/2019 11:53 AM by Srivani Erukulla
Last modified at 9/27/2019 11:53 AM by Srivani Erukulla