Assessment and Specialized Assessment* in Manitoba Schools:
In Manitoba schools, gaining an understanding of the student begins with the information and evidence of learning collected and provided by the classroom teacher. As teachers are responsible for providing data about each Manitoba student, it is important that they know that, at any point (and perhaps at multiple points), they or the school team (including the parents and student) may access school clinician supports to assist them in this process.
School clinician supports help teachers to improve their strategies and processes for learning and for collecting evidence-of-learning data. In addition, the availability of school clinicians provides teachers with an opportunity to discuss potential new programming, as well as results from the implementation of existing programming.
In Manitoba, school clinician** supports are provided using a consultative and collaborative model. Classroom teachers can informally access the supports to support their instruction, assessment, and management of students, and they can also use the supports more formally for a specific student. The in-school team*** may also access school clinician supports to get input on school-wide or student-specific planning and programming.
Specialized assessment* is a process where a clinical professional interprets the information provided by the classroom teacher and in-school team with objectivity, perspective, and professional knowledge in a particular discipline. After reviewing the results of the classroom-based information, the school clinician will often respond with strategic, cross-curricular, classroom-based supports, professional development, and/or mentoring/modelling for the teacher/team. Periodically, if a student is not responding to the supports and changes in instructional methods that have been consistently implemented over a period of time, the school team, with input of the school clinician, may determine that additional investigation is required.
Based on the information and evidence provided, the school clinician will determine whether formal assessment of student knowledge, skills, and abilities is appropriate and warranted. The school clinician will determine the timing and content of that assessment, ensuring that a formal assessment is in the best interests of the student. It should also be noted that formal assessment can be very taxing on a student, both mentally and emotionally, and due consideration of the rigours of this assessment cannot be overstated.
It would be a very rare situation that a parent would directly request and receive a formal diagnostic assessment. Typically, the parent would be guided through the process and perhaps engage in conversations with a school clinician in order to understand more fully the purpose and procedures of assessment in education.
* “Specialized assessments are conducted by qualified professionals on an individual basis to determine what factors are affecting the student’s learning and what approaches would assist the student to meet the learning outcomes in the classroom” (Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth, p. 13).
** School clinicians include audiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, reading clinicians, school psychologists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists.
*** In-school team: See Figure 1.2: The In-School Team Educational Planning Process (Manitoba Education, p. 11).
Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation Joint Advisory Committee Working Group. Principles for Fair Student Assessment Practices for Education in Canada. Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation, 1993,
Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth. Appropriate Educational Programming in Manitoba: Standards for Student Services, 2006, p. 13,
Manitoba Education. Student-Specific Planning: A Handbook for Developing and Implementing IEPs. Province of Manitoba, 2010, p. 11,