CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown says a three-year psychology strategy announced in early 2018 is improving access to assessments and supports that help students succeed in school.
The $2-million plan, Brown said Thursday, has seen investments made in key areas to assess more students earlier.
Four more psychologist positions were filled in 2018, bringing the complement to 10.6 positions.
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.
Brown said the province 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 in 2018 has helped to reduce the backlog more quickly, the minister added.
The Public Schools Branch will continue to use private sector services as necessary to reach targeted wait times.
Along with the psychologists, four intervention teachers and two assistive tech facilitators have been hired to help implement the increased number of recommendations.
“As a result of these initiatives, we are getting services to students and putting technology into their hands earlier because we have more people working to support them,’’ said Brown.
“We are providing students with more timely and sustainable access while overcoming a stubborn and longstanding issue in our public school system.’’
Colin Campbell, who was hired last year as a school psychologist, agrees progress is being made in getting through the wait list.
“Now that students are not waiting as long to get the recommended supports and interventions put into place, the future is bright for P.E.I. students,’’ said Campbell.
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.
Katie Beaton, 13, of Charlottetown has received ongoing assistance since first receiving an assessment in Grade 4 by a psychologist that identified some of her learning weaknesses to include a struggle focusing and difficulty with reading comprehension.
Katie, now in Grade 8 at Queen Charlotte Intermediate School, says interventions and assistance gives her confidence to tackle her courses.
“It helps me get through my (school) work,’’ she said.