More students are benefitting from psychological assessments
A new three-year plan is speeding up access to assessments and supports that help students succeed in school.
Since a new $2 million, three-year psychology strategy was announced one year ago this week, investments were made in key areas to assess more students earlier.
As a result, the wait time for an assessment has decreased to two years and three months, down from 3.5 years in January 2018. The wait list has dropped to 276 students, down from 423 one year ago.
Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown said staff have been able to get services to students and put technology into their hands earlier because there are more people working in this area.
During the past year, the Public Schools Branch hired four new school psychologists, bringing the total number of psychologists to 10.6. To help classroom teachers implement the increased number of assessments in years one and two, four new itinerant resource teachers were hired, as well as two assistive tech staff to help with technology related interventions.
“As a result of these investments, more children are being supported to reach their full learning potential,” said Minister Brown. “With earlier access to assessment and the additional services now in place, more students are getting the supports they need to achieve.”
Psychological assessments often include a comprehensive evaluation of student’s learning, emotional and behavioral needs, and may result in a diagnosis of a learning or an intellectual disability and include specific recommendations for the student.
Dr. Colin Campbell is a school psychologist who grew up in St. Georges, PEI and recently returned to the Island to work.
"I appreciate PEI's inclusive education model and the strong sense of community you find in each school,” he said. “Much of our focus now is on getting through the provincial wait list and we are making good progress. Now that students are not waiting as long to get the recommended supports and interventions put into place, the future is bright for PEI students"
The new resource teachers work closely with schools and parents to put the appropriate interventions or adaptations in place. They monitor the progress of students, provide education about learning disabilities, support teachers with adaptations in the classroom and provide interventions.
Tech support staff are up-to-date on new technology that enables students to access curriculum. For example, a student might be given a chrome book with voice to text software if they have a writing disability.
“The team of educators, health partners and human resource staff who came together to address this significant issue are to be commended on the excellent progress they are making,” said Minister Brown. “With their concerted efforts and the needed provincial investments, we are providing students with timely and sustainable access to supports while overcoming a stubborn and longstanding issue in our public school system.”
The three-year plan includes several short and longer term targets which are being met:
• The full complement of 10.6 school psychologists was filled in September. There are four more psychologists in place than there were a year ago.
• The wait time for assessments has been reduced from 3.5 years in January 2018, to two years and three months, even with 130 new requests this year.
• There are now 276 students on the wait list, which is ahead of the target to reduce the list to 325 students by August 2019, and close to the target of 250 by September 2020, which would mean all students would be assessed within a year.
• The completion of 70 assessments by private practice psychologists has helped to reduce the backlog more quickly. The Public Schools Branch will continue to use private sector services as necessary, to reach the targeted wait times.
Students begin to receive support as soon as they are recommended for an assessment. For example, a student could receive a psychological consult with a psychologist and a team of school professionals which could result in a referral to another agency, academic interventions, referral to a resource teacher, inclusive education consultant or speech language pathologist. Students continue to be closely monitored by teachers and the school-based student services team while they are waiting for an assessment.