Sometimes, letting go of students is so hard. There are the joyous dismissals when students master their sounds, or have increased their language skills to an appropriate level. Then there are the dismissals that are hard to take: the students who don't make significant progress to deem continued therapy beneficial. Especially when you've had these students for a long time. You've seen these students struggle through the years, and you've worried about them. You've grown attached...not only to the students, but to their families as well. You've fought for the students to receive additional services. You love those kids.
When do you know when it's time to let them go? For articulation students, I give them 2 years. If they have made no (and I mean NO) progress within those 2 years, it's time. If they have any inkling of any progress at all, I won't even consider making that recommendation to the IEP team. I also take motivation into consideration, and bringing their homework back signed is a huge indicator to me. I keep a record of when they bring it back with a parent's signature, and will use that percentage to back up motivation (or the lack of).
Language students are so much harder for me to let go, but testing doesn't lie. If a student has made no significant progress over 3 years and is receiving additional services (such as inclusion or resource), then it's time. It's time to weigh the benefits of continued language therapy for 1 hour/week vs. the student staying in the classroom; especially if the student is in 4th or 5th grade, when academics are so demanding. Can his needs be met through special ed services? Will the inclusion services along with the resource services be enough? If the student is requesting that he be allowed to stay in the class instead of coming to speech/language, should that tell the SLP something? It could be that deep down the student realizes that he's missing things in the classroom. Would it be beneficial for the SLP to go into the classroom instead of pulling the student? These are all questions whose answers should be taken into consideration when presenting a recommendation to the IEP team.
While letting go can be a happy time, it can also be a time of grief. It is important to remember that you, as an SLP, are a member of the team, and it is a team decision. Bring the facts to the table, and begin the discussion. And try not to shed tears.