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May 4, 2018

The Special Measures for “Special Needs” P.S.E. Takers

We have previously covered how students with “special needs” – the visually and hearing impaired; the handicapped; those with autism and developmental learning disabilities – have taken part in the Primary School Examination. There are more of those students this year than ever before, prompting the Ministry of Education to take special measures. Also noteworthy is that in at least one school’s case, there are nursing and counseling services available to combat the anxiety that students taking the P.S.E. face on arriving to the exam room.


Nelson Longsworth

Nelson Longsworth, Head of Examinations Unit, Ministry of Education

“That is a process by itself. We are trying to at least make sure that they have access to the exam, and they know and try to minimize how they are impacted by sitting the exam; we are trying to level the playing field. The process is one where they are identified; and then special teachers are trained to support each and every one of them. Many times they need a room by themselves. Many students would not only need a reader, for a visually impaired or visually challenged child, but also a writer. So there are two adults assigned to the one child. It really stretches us thin quite a bit, especially this year in some centers where we had to open a new center just to accommodate for special needs because of the manpower required. The special needs are given special time schedules and so on, as I said in all to minimize the challenges they would have based on their need. We have at one center where the school hires a nurse for the entire day, because you have children with high anxiety, different issues occurring on that day and they need the medical intervention or support to get them into the room to finish exams or start. So it’s traumatic for many children. And the more high stakes it becomes, the greater stress that is placed on the students.”


Aaron Humes

“That particular school – we don’t have to call names or anything – but that particular school hires, as you said, a nurse to watch over the kids at the examination center?”


Nelson Longsworth

“That’s right. They have seen the need for it and that’s what they have done. Many schools themselves might have person on staff that plays that role. The counselor is very, very active on that day.”

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