Prepare for Next School Year’s Tasks While You Wind up This Year
The end of another academic year is in sight!
Like many school-based therapists (and, naturally, many students) you may be looking forward to summer’s slower pace, time for travel, and fun in the sun.
But before enjoying some well-earned rest, you’ve got more work to do.
No, you may not be screening new students, reevaluating IEPs, designing new interventions, and so on until next fall.
If you want to get your next school year off to a great beginning, you’ll need to spend time and effort wrapping this one up in a well-organized way.
Clinicians on the Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) team have learned a lot about how to successfully wind down a school year. Here’s one checklist they follow. We hope it helps you make sure nothing falls through the cracks during these hectic final few weeks!
Item One – Finish All Your Therapy Progress Reports
Don’t let those progress reports pile up! Take care of some each day; don’t try to tackle them all in one sitting.
Make sure your student file contains copies of all progress reports for the present year, then copy and add the final report. You’ll also want to make an extra copy so you have a solid starting point ready to go next year.
Finally, make copies for the master file and to mail to students’ families (if you’re responsible for that task; if not, notify teachers so they can mail the reports).
Item Two – Complete All Screenings and Evaluations
Aim to finish all evaluations and screenings by the end of May. If you can meet that self-imposed deadline, you’ll still have time to get any pieces of information you need before the last day of school. Don’t procrastinate!
As with progress reports, make copies of screening and evaluation reports to place in your student files and to forward to the appropriate IEP team members.
Item Three – Check Student Files for Up-to-Date IEPs
Make sure each student’s file contains a current copy of her or his Individualized Education Program (IEP). Taking time for this double check gives you peace of mind. You know you’ll have access to the document when IEP reevaluation time arrives even if computer problems crop up—or if someone accidentally deletes your information.
Always prepare IEPs in a Word document. It’s much easier to retype lost information using the copy in the student’s file than it is to rewrite the IEP. (Trust us. This is a tip we’ve learned the hard way over the years!)
Item Four – Review and Update Your Billing
Ideally, you handle your billing on a daily basis to keep it accurate and timely, but reviewing your caseload information is still an end-of-year must.
Make sure all the following items are up to date for each student you work with:
- Most recent IEP date
- Time and frequency of therapy
- Any change of address
- Any change in diagnosis
The agency you work with, such as PTS, needs accurate information in order to bill properly. Also, if other billing is applicable in your school, such as Medical ACCESS in Pennsylvania, you should update and complete that billing before the school year ends.
Item Five – Pack Up Your Stuff!
After you’ve completed all your paperwork, it’s time to pack up your materials. Whether you’re staying in the same therapy room or moving to another school building, reorganize your materials so you’ll be ready for fall (or perhaps even Extended School Year (ESY) services).
We’ve all moved to new schools only to find, as we’re trying to settle in, that we’re missing game pieces, test manuals, or, worst of all, student files (definitely a bad thing to find out when it’s IEP reevaluation time, or when parents want to exercise their rights under IDEA and FERPA to review the student’s records). Organizing at year’s end reduces these risks and helps you start the next year on the right foot.
Look Ahead to Your Next Year in School-Based Therapy with PTS
Hopefully, this end-of-the-year checklist for school-based therapy will help you stay on top of what must be done before that final school bell rings.
By finishing everything in a timely and organized manner, you’ll know that when you “close up shop” in June, you’ll have done all you can to prepare for a strong start in September.
And if part of your preparation for next year involves finding a new school-based therapy job, we encourage you to explore working with PTS. Click here to find out about current openings, or give us a call today at 610-941-7020.