California School District Adopts Online Speech Therapy

Although districts are required to provide students in need with special education and related services such as speech therapy, many face obstacles in doing so. One such school district, Lone Pine Unified (LPUSD), an economically disadvantaged district near the California-Nevada border, found it hard to recruit and retain speech-language pathologists (SLPs) because of its location. To overcome this challenge, LPUSD chose to use online speech therapy through PresenceLearning.

“Research shows that socioeconomic status is the number one statistic in predicting overall student and school district underachievement, and approximately 70 percent of our students are socioeconomically disadvantaged,” said Dr. Sean A. Cianfarano, Superintendent of LPUSD. “However, with PresenceLearning and our pre-academic early intervention efforts spearheaded by our excellent educators and support staff, we are now beating the odds at LPUSD.”

After the 2013-2014 school year, LPUSD was one of ten districts to receive PresenceLearning’s Award of Excellence. Of the nearly 1,000 schools PresenceLearning served that school year, the award was given to those districts with the highest percentage of students who improved one level or more in spoken language production and spoken language comprehension on the Functional Communication Measures (FCMs) scales during the school year.

Although he was skeptical of its effectiveness when he first moved to the school district in fall 2014, Superintendent Cianfarano was won over as he saw how PresenceLearning positively impacted his son Rocco. While enrolled in Pre-K at his previous district, Rocco’s teacher told his family that he was leaving off the first letter and sound of his words, thus indicating that he may need speech therapy. Once enrolled in kindergarten at LPUSD, Rocco started with PresenceLearning and his family found he flourished both in therapy and in the classroom.

“I would not choose a service option for our school district that we, as a family, would not choose for our own child,” said Dr. Cianfarano. “Early literacy is so important for young learners, but if the student cannot speak, it is really hard for them to be literate because it is all tied together.”