Date of Award

Spring 3-11-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Jennifer Timmer, PhD

Committee Member

Daniel Gutmore, PhD

Committee Member

James Falco, EdD


school-based speech-language pathologist, middle school speech-language services, evidence-based practice, eligibility for speech-language services, dismissal from speech-language services, recommendations for speech-language services


The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) encourages speech- language pathologists (SLPs) to implement evidence-based practice (EBP) in clinical decision- making processes. Through the utilization of EBP, SLPs increase their ability to make informed decisions and recommendations for treatment. Despite ASHA’s position that EBP is necessary to ensure the provision of high-quality care, there is conflicting evidence as to how consistently SLPs in public middle schools implement it. The purpose of this study was to explore the degree to which middle school-based SLPs use EBP for determining student eligibility for speech- language services and in their decision-making processes. For this qualitative study, 12 ASHA-certified, New Jersey public middle school-based SLPs were interviewed to identify factors that they consider for eligibility determinations, assessment processes, recommendations, and discontinuation of direct services. Using a grounded theory methodology, the transcripts of the participant interviews were coded and analyzed in three distinct phases: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. The results from the analysis revealed that ASHA certified middle school-based SLPs routinely use EBP when determining eligibility for services and in their decision-making processes; however, clinical expertise and the perspectives of the students and parents are weighed much more heavily than the best available evidence. Participants frequently cited time constraints due to large caseloads and access to a limited selection of standardized assessments as barriers to EBP. Implications of the study suggest that middle school-based SLPs allocate more time for scientific research, as well as vary mandates and service delivery models. The findings also indicate that school administrators should play a more active role in promoting the feasibility of EBP for public middle school-based SLPs. Suggestions for administrators to support the use of EBP among middle school-based SLPs include the provision of clearer eligibility guidelines, more opportunities for professional collaboration, and ensuring that clinicians have access to a wide selection of psychometrically appropriate formal assessments.

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Signed approval for successful defense