Union: Psychological testing a waste of time

POSTED: 03/7/13 8:43 PM

St. Maarten– Unionized teachers at the Prins Willem Alexander School are asking the Education Ministry to revisit its priorities with regard to the school. Windward Island Teachers Union president Claire Elshot said that while issues regarding teacher shortage and the lack of certification still need to be addressed, foreign psychologists are being flown into the country to conduct assessments. She called the process a “waste of time.”
“We had a meeting with the minister and there was no indication that foreign psychologists would have been brought in. It makes a person like myself who was trained in special education raise eyebrows because the fact that these students are in the Prins Willem Alexander School means that they were already tested. The urgent intervention at this school is actually a more pressing matter for me and my members. We have a number of local psychologists here employed and we were even wondering what is happening with the local psychologists,” Elshot said during yesterday’s weekly Windward Island Chamber of Labour Unions press conference.
She described the situation as unethical, claiming that teachers were not informed that testing would have been conducted at the institution.

“We feel that some code of ethics were lacking in this whole development. We are looking out to see what will be the outcome of having psychologists brought to the island because it makes no sense   if you have psychologist brought in if you don’t have a follow up program to benefit the students.”

The acute problems at the school, the union president said, include the lack of certified special education teachers; training needs to be done to upgrade teachers in the types of learning disabilities and approaches for children. She added that with more than 5 teachers that have been on extensive sick leave, an additional burden is created on staff since there are no substitute teachers.
On February 26, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs, Silveria Jacobs officially welcomed a team of six psychologists from St. Johns University Graduate School of Psychology to the island. An agreement was then formalized between the Ministry and the University for the school to provide technical assistance to the Ministry, and in particular to the Prins Willem Alexander School.

An environmental scan of the types and clusters of special needs (disabilities & exceptionalities) of children attending Prins Willem Alexander School was conducted.

In June, the same group of psychologists will return to the island to carry out the same type of testing for children of the remaining public schools and other subsidized schools on the island.


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