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Board Meetings

Report


June 17, 2008



OPA STUDENT ASSESSMENT PROJECT

The Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) project funding made it possible for us to hire an additional Psychological Services staff person on a temporary basis, and increased our capacity to provide psychological assessments.  As a result, we were able to substantially reduce wait times for psychological assessments.  We are now able to make decisions about the timing of a psychological assessment based on the needs of the student (i.e. when the assessment information would be most beneficial in planning the student’s school program).    

We took steps to make the participation of classroom teachers in post assessment conferences a standard practice.  The Superintendent and Principal of Student Services took opportunities to discuss with school principals the importance of including classroom teachers in these conferences.  Area Resource Teachers and Psychological Services staff reminded Learning Resource Teachers—who coordinate the meetings—to ensure that classroom teachers were invited to these conferences.  Psychological Services staff offered flexibility in scheduling these conferences to accommodate teachers’ schedules.  

During the year before the project (05-06), classroom teachers attended only 45% of the post assessment conferences.  This year, classroom teachers’ attendance of post assessment conferences was increased to 85%.  Classroom teachers surveyed rated the information provided by psychological assessments to be very helpful, and they were able to identify specific strategies arising from the assessment information and recommendations which they intended to implement to improve student literacy.  The inclusion of classroom teachers in the post assessment conferences was seen to be supportive of collaborative working relationships between classroom teachers and in-school team members, and also between classroom teachers and Student Services staff (such as Psychological Services staff and Area Resource teachers).  Classroom teachers who had opportunities to participate in several post assessment conferences were observed to be better able to identify similar learning needs in other students.  This enhanced understanding of the information provided by psychological assessments is likely to increase their ability to generalize learning strategies to other students, and to identify other students who may benefit from psychological assessment.

For the students assessed as part of the project, enhanced post assessment follow-up was provided.  This follow-up involved the student’s classroom teacher, the Learning Resource Teacher, and other school personnel as needed (i.e. Principal and/or Vice Principal, Developmental Learning Class teacher, Behaviour Support Teacher, Educational Assistant, etc.) as well as the Area Resource Teacher, Psychological Services staff, and other Student Services personnel as appropriate based on the student’s learning needs (Speech and Language Pathologist, Behaviour Lead Teacher, etc.).  The purpose of this follow-up was to further discuss/clarify the assessment information and recommendations, and implications for school programming; review the teachers’ progress in implementing program improvements; identify any needs for teacher capacity development in order to implement program improvements; and evaluate the effectiveness of program improvements.  Some teams specifically included a detailed review of the IEP as part of this follow-up.  School personnel indicated that this additional support was beneficial for them.

We may consider whether continuing the practice of having increased post assessment follow-up might be adopted in some circumstances (i.e. when the student has a complex profile of learning strengths and needs, at the request of school personnel, when the assessment was completed late in the school year), or whether a less time-intensive form of follow-up (such as email or phone contact) might be adopted as a standard practice.

The project funding made it possible for us to provide a variety of professional development activities for teachers of students who were assessed as part of the project.  Some teachers participated in individual coaching by a specialist teacher with expertise in literacy instruction.  Group training sessions were planned to address common needs for capacity development identified by the teachers, including assistive technology, and teaching students with intellectual disabilities in the regular classroom.  These activities were clearly and specifically linked to the principles of “Education for All”.  In all, 58 teachers and 2 Educational Assistants from 33 different schools participated in these professional development activities.  These professional development activities were very well received.  

The main theme arising from the comments of the participants was that classroom teachers wish to have more access to professional development opportunities in the area of Special Education.  It is our hope that the decision to dedicate one PD Day per year to Special Education will assist us in responding to this need.






Submitted to
For further information, please contact
Bluewater District School Board 
Lori Wilder, Superintendent of Student Services
17 June 2008    

        


        


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