JAID calls for more assessment of children
The Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID) is calling for the assessment of more children who are classified as slow learners, as this may be an indication of intellectual disability (ID).
Executive Director of JAID Christine Rodriguez said the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has several points in the education system, where children with characteristics of ID can be identified and evaluated.
"In grade one, there is a readiness inventory test that is done within the first term that the child enters school. When you do that, the child may be identified at the mastery, near mastery or non-mastery level. That is a point that should alert teachers that something is not right," she said. "If after a year of intervention and the child has not moved from the non-mastery or near-mastery level, the siren should be going off that this child needs to be assessed."
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday, Rodriguez said if a student is consistently underperforming, he or she should not simply be allowed to repeat the curriculum, but should undergo psychoeducational assessment. She recommended that the education ministry take a systematic approach to the problem by using the data collected on students.
"We are collecting all of this data and we are not using it to drive the system. Instead, we say the children are lazy or the parents are not working with them enough. If we are using the data that we are collecting, no child should be leaving the primary level without being identified as having a problem," she said.
Development manager at JAID, Marilyn McKoy, said the association has been collaborating with teachers across the country to work with children with ID.
"We have worked with teachers in the regular system and we have given strategies on how to work with children within the mainstream to help them perform within their setting," she said. McKoy added that about 88 per cent of children with ID are classified as mild and are therefore not served by JAID's schools of special education, but can be often found in the regular school system.
The schools of special education are jointly operated by JAID and the ministry, and serve children between the ages of six and 21. They are the Randolph Lopez School of Hope, Woodlawn School of Special Education, Edgehill School of Special Education, Llandilo School of Special Education and Windsor School of Special Education.