School psychologists critical now more than ever


Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. –

TOPICS surrounding mental health are often met with stigma in TT, no less when the subject is a school child.

But there is a greater need now, more than ever, for student support to be taken seriously.

The Ministry of Education’s Student Support Services Division (SSSD), and the TT Association of Psychologists (TTAP) recently held a two-day symposium themed Valuing Psychoeducational Assessments, and Exploring the Role of the School Psychologists.

Experts in the field, including Prof Frank Worrell, president of the American Psychological Association, university lecturer and a school psychologist, underscored the necessity of school psychologists and the psycho-educational assessments.

A psycho-educational assessment refers to the evaluation of underlying mental processes that impact educational, workplace achievement and life management abilities.

Worrell shared insight into the evolution of psychology and its impact on today’s educational environment.

After participants had group discussions, understanding of the critical role assessments play in affording students the best educational opportunities, became well established.

It also covered many critical areas for supporting student development, and keynote speakers such as, Leticia Rodriguez-Cupid, Prof Surendra Arjoon and Dr Korene Louison explained how psycho-educational assessments form a critical role in the intervention process for students.

They expanded discussion on the use, and possible misuse, of these evaluations within the education system.

Regional and international presenters explored how school psychologists “assist in mitigating negative connotations of assessment.”

They emphasised the need for “preventative programmes” to reduce the number of students being tested for learning challenges.

The symposium reached a wide cross-section of teachers, principals, tertiary education students, psychology practitioners, and other education stakeholders.

Visham Ramsaywack, senior communications officer at the education ministry’s corporate communications division described the event as a “step in the right direction for Trinidad and Tobago as education continues to evolve,” adding that “the expectation is that there should be much more to come.”

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said: “As the Ministry of Education continues the conversation surrounding inclusive education, more work must be done to ensure that all stakeholders understand the importance of evaluation.

“An increase in testing and assessment means an increase in the knowledge of the population. The new virtual environment has not limited the efforts of the Ministry.”

The education ministry’s SSSD, as it did last year, released an “insider” newsletter with tips for teachers, some in the context of the pandemic, like combating things like “Carnival tabanka,” a genuine and depressed feeling of longing by Carnival enthusiasts, by keeping students engaged in safe Carnival-related activities.

It further explains other support services, including the processes for special concessions, which are offered to eligible students registered for local examinations, such as Secondary Entrance Assessment, as well as the psycho-educational assessment application process and the its referral process for parents, teachers, external and self referrals.

The SSSD also highlighted a project to promote mental health in education (PMHE) post covid19.

It says, “(The PMHE) programme focuses on the parents’ perceptions as it relates to the psychological impact of the pandemic on their children. The PMHE is a post covid19 initiative, which aims to share information on the mental health and well-being of students who have expressed emotional concerns about the changes to the SEA, CSEC, and CAPE, as well as the shortened school term, as a result of the outbreak.

“The PMHE programme targets students, parents, and teachers to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and their ability to manage mental health challenges. Upon completion of the project, the PMHE will increase the student population’s knowledge of mental health, obtain relevant data on the psychological impact of a pandemic within the education system of Trinidad and Tobago, and increase the intervention programmes within the school environment.”

More information about recent PMHE programmes can be found on the ministry’s website at:

Back To Top