General Questions About Special Education
What is special education?
A special education program includes a plan with specific objectives and an outline of educational services that meets the needs of exceptional students who typically require additional supports in order to meet their learning potential. Special education services are defined as facilities and resources , including support staff and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program. For more information, see page A4 in the Guide for Educators.
Special education can be offered in the regular classroom, or in a special education class, depending on how the school board provides special education programs and services. Many school boards post information regarding special education programs on their website. For more information, contact your local school principal. Click here for school board profiles.
How does special education work?
A child may be provided a special education program if:
Formally identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee IPRC); or when
Both the parents and the school agree that a child should receive a special education program in a regular classroom.
In both cases, an Individual Education Plan IEP) will be developed for your child. Parents must be invited to help develop the IEP. Other people who have expertise may also be involved in developing the IEP. These people may include:
Student (if over 16 years of age);
School staff (principal, classroom teacher(s), special education teacher, teacher assistant);
Community and other professionals involved with the student.
For more information, please see page 13 and 14 here.
How do I get special education program for my child?
If you believe that your child needs a special education program, contact your local school and arrange to speak with the principal. The school principal will discuss the ways the school might meet your child's needs including steps involved in having your child receive a special education program. For more information, contact your local school principal. School board profiles can be found here.
What if my child just needs a little extra help, but not special education?
If you believe that your child needs additional learning support at school you will want to contact your local school and speak to the principal and/or the classroom teacher.
Questions Parents May Have When Their Child is Entering School
I already know my child's special needs. When do I tell the school?
If you know your child has special educational needs you should contact your local school and ask to speak to the principal to find out how and when to enroll your child and to plan what additional programs and services should be organized.
Will I have to pay for any of the special education programs and services the school board offers my child?
No. You will not have to pay for the special education programs and services that the school board offers your child.
What if I want my child to be in a regular classroom?
A child with special education needs would normally be registered in a regular classroom unless the parent or the principal requested an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) to be held to determine whether the student is an exceptional pupil and what the appropriate classroom placement should be based on the best interests of the individual student. Further information on the IPRC process can be found here.
What if I want my child to learn in a special school or special education class?
Similar to the answer listed above, if a parent wishes their child to learn in a special school or special education class, they have the right to request an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) be called to determine whether the student is an exceptional pupil and, if so, what type of educational placement is appropriate.
Will my child get an Ontario Secondary School Diploma?
In order to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) the student must:
earn 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits
Complete 40 hours of community service; and
Pass the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) or the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC) The Literacy Course is designed for students who cannot demonstrate their learning very well in a test situation.
What other types of learning recognition are available to students?
The Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC) will be granted upon request by the student or their parent in the event that the student leaves school before achieving an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The condition of granting the OSSC requires a student to have earned a minimum of 14 credits; 7 of which are compulsory credits and 7 of which are optional.
- Students who leave school before fulfilling the requirements for the OSSD or the OSSC may be granted a Certificate of Accomplishment (COA). The Principal may grant the CAO upon request from the parent or student. The Certificate of Accomplishment may be a useful means of recognizing achievement for students who plan to take certain vocational programs, further training, or for those who plan to seek employment after leaving school.
Further information regarding student recognition may be found at the following link.
Questions Parents May Have About Curriculum For Students With Special Education Needs
Will my child have the same curriculum as everyone else?
Some students with special education needs may require accommodation to allow them to participate in the regular curriculum and to demonstrate achievement of specific skills or learning expectations.Accommodationscan include:
Some children with special education needs may require modifications (IEP Resource Guide) to the curriculum. Modifications
Sometimes, it may be necessary to develop alternative learning expectations for a child that are different from the learning expectations in the Ontario curriculum. These will be described in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and discussed with parents.
Will my child have a special curriculum?
The goal of education is for all students to access the Ontario curriculum. However in some circumstances students will have alternative learning expectations outside the Ontario curriculum.
How will I know how my child is progressing?
The Provincial Report Card is one way the school reports to parents on the progress of their child. Teachers may also communicate the progress of your child through:
More information on Reporting and the Provincial Report Card can be found here.
What if my child needs more time to learn?
Some children may require more time and support to be successful in learning. If your child is receiving a special education program the IEP can include accommodations that can allow for additional time to learn.
Do I have a say in what my child learns?
The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed when your child receives special education programs and services by those who will be working directly with your child. You must be consulted during the development of the IEP. In planning for a program for your child, the teacher begins by examining the curriculum expectations for the subject and grade for the individual child and his or her strengths and learning needs to determine what options are available. Some children with special education needs are able, with certain accommodations, to participate in the regular curriculum and to demonstrate learning independently. Accommodations do not alter the provincial curriculum expectations for the grade level. Providing accommodations for a child with special education needs should be the first option considered in program planning. Instruction based on principles of universal design and differentiated instruction focuses on the provision of accommodations to meet the diverse need of learners. Some children will require modified expectations. Modified expectations are based on the regular grade-level curriculum, with changes in the number and/or complexity of expectations. Modified expectations must represent specific, realistic and measurable achievements, and must describe specific knowledge and/or skills that the child can demonstrate independently, given the appropriate assessment accommodations. All of this information is taken into consideration in the development of the IEP for your child to ensure that your child has access to the Ontario curriculum.
Do I have a say in how my child’s learning will be evaluated?
Your child’s learning will be evaluated according to the Ontario Curriculum as modified by any assessment accommodations identified in your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) You will be consulted during the development of the IEP. For more information about Individual Education Plan (IEP) please click here
Questions Parents May Have If Concerns Arise
How will I know if there are concerns about my child’s learning?
Students, parents, and educators all play important roles in the effective planning and implementation of a child’s learning. Communication plays a huge role in this. Through ongoing consultation with the parents, school staff and students themselves, any concerns about a child’s learning should be evident and clearly communicated. This should be part of a continuous process of dialogue in the development and implementation of a child’s IEP. For more information about IEPs, please click here.
How will I know if there are concerns about my child getting along with others?
Parents should be meeting regularly throughout the school year with teachers and possibly other school board staff, at certain reporting periods, for updates on their child’s progress. At these times, teachers and parents could discuss how successfully their child was interacting with others. Parents and teachers can, of course, do this more informally on a request basis.
Questions Parents May Have About IPRC's
What is an IPRC (Identification, Placement and Review Committee)?
Every school board has one or more Identification, Placement, and Review Committees. These are commonly referred to as IPRCs. The purpose of an IPRC is to formally identify children who have special education needs as “exceptional pupils” and to place these exceptional pupils in settings where they can receive appropriate special education programs and services.
An IPRC is composed of at least three persons, one of whom must be a principal or supervisory officer of the board.
What are the rules and guidelines about IPRCs?
The IPRC process is somewhat formal and there are rules about how it must proceed. These rules are there to ensure that the process is fair to parents while protecting the ability of school boards to operate efficiently. Above all, the rules are intended to ensure that children with special education needs have their needs recognized and that they receive appropriate special education programs and services.
The rules that guide this process are in a regulation made under the Education Act. This regulation is called Regulation 181/98: Identification and Placement of Exceptional Pupils. The most important rules are summarized in a document called Highlights of Regulation 181/98 and it can be found here
The regulation itself can be found here.
Does my child have to have an IPRC?
It is not necessary for a child to be formally identified as an exceptional pupil in order for him or her to receive a special education program or special education services. If a parent and school principal agree that the child has special education needs and on the nature of special education program or services that are best for the child, there may be no need to take the step of having the child formally identified by an IPRC.
What if I want an IPRC to meet about my child, but the school doesn’t think it is necessary?
If either the parent or the school principal believe that the child requires a special education program or special education services, and if agreement cannot be reached, then the parent or school principal may request in writing that an IPRC decide the matter. When such a request is made, the IPRC must meet, consider the needs of the child, and decide whether the child is an exceptional pupil and, if so, what the appropriate placement for him or her is. If either the parent or principal requests an IPRC, the IPRC must meet: the rules in Regulation 181/98 do not permit the other party to prevent this meeting from occurring.
Do I have the right to have input into my child’s IPRC?
Normally, a child’s teacher will meet with the parent prior to the IPRC and help the parent to identify and prepare appropriate information for the IPRC. Parents have a right to attend their child’s IPRC and the school principal has a responsibility to ensure that the parent is invited and has an opportunity to attend. In addition, parents have a right to speak and ask questions at the meeting and to provide the IPRC with any relevant information they consider important to the decisions of the IPRC. Parents are entitled to have an advocate accompany them to meetings to help them express concerns.
QUESTIONS PARENTS MAY HAVE ABOUT EVALUATION AND REPORT CARDS
What does it mean when the “IEP” box is checked on my child’s report card?
The IEP box is checked when the mark for a particular subject/course is based on learning expectations outlined in the IEP.
Why isn’t the “IEP” box checked when it is clear my child has special needs?
The IEP box is only checked when the mark for a particular subject/course is based on learning expectations outlined in the IEP. A student with special needs who, for example, only needs accommodation such as assistive devices and other supports in a regular program will not have the “IEP” box checked.
Can my child receive accommodations for the EQAO assessments
If your child has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for classroom tests and assessments, he/she may be able to get an accommodation for writing the EQAO assessments. All EQAO assessments allow for a student to receive accommodations. However the specific accommodations that are permitted may be different for each assessment. Parents should talk to the school principal and/or teacher-adviser concerning their child’s accommodation needs in advance of him/her writing the EQAO assessment,
For Questions and Answers for parents, please click here or contact the EQAO office at:
Education Quality and Accountability Office Suite 1200, 2 Carlton Street, Toronto ON M5B 2M9 Telephone: 1-888-327-7377 • Fax: 416 325-0831 www.eqao.com
QUESTIONS PARENTS MAY HAVE ABOUT THE IEPs
What is an IEP – Individual Education Plan?
The IEP is a written plan describing the special education programs and/or services required by a student. It must also include the specific educational expectations for the student and a statement of the methods by which the student’s progress will be reviewed. It is also an accountability tool for the student, the parent and everyone else who has responsibilities under the plan.
Does my child have to have an IEP?
Every student identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) must have an IEP. An IEP may also be developed for other students who require special education programs and/or services.
What if I want my child to have an IEP but the school doesn’t think it is necessary?
You should speak with your child’s teacher(s) explaining the reasons why you think an IEP would be beneficial and share any relevant reports, assessments or other information that would be helpful in planning your child’s program. The decision to develop an IEP will be made by the school principal in consultation with you and your child’s teacher(s).
Do I have the right to have input into my child’s IEP?
You should be a contributor to this process by sharing any relevant information that will support the development of the IEP. In this way, you will understand what you will be asked to sign and also be aware as changes are requested and/or made to the IEP.
What are the rules about IEPs?
Regulation 181/98 sets out the IPRC process. An IEP is required for all students identified as exceptional by an IPRC, and the requirements respecting IEPs are also contained in this regulation. The ministry has provided a number of documents to support the IEP process. Links are listed here:
QUESTIONS PARENTS MAY HAVE WHEN A CHILD IS CHANGING SCHOOLS WITHIN THE BOARD
Will the new school be informed about my child’s special needs?
At the time when you register your child in a new school, it is important that you share information with the school principal about the special needs of your child.
Does the new school have to accept assessments that were done by the other school?
If your child has been identified by an IPRC (Identification, Placement and Review Committee), the receiving school accepts this information. If assessments have been completed at the previous school but no decision was made regarding a special education program, the receiving school will take this information into consideration in making decisions about the next steps required in meeting the needs of your child.
Does the new school have to accept my child’s identification as “an exceptional pupil” as decided by an IPRC (Identification, Placement and Review Committee)?
The new school accepts the decision of the IPRC, until such time as that decision is changed by a further IPRC . When you register your child in the new school, you should to speak with the school principal about your child’s identification as “an exceptional pupil”. If you have concerns regarding the identification or placement of your child you should speak with the school principal.
Who is responsible for planning related to the change of schools?
Parents are responsible for registering their child in a new school. As a parent you will want to describe the special needs of your child and participate in any case conference for your child. The principal of the new school is responsible for ensuring that planning is in place related to meeting the special education needs of your child. The principal involves the parents, system-level personnel and community partners in implementing a system-level plan for your child; gathers all necessary information, coordinates a case conference for your child who has special education needs, coordinates an orientation for your child, and, monitors any issues that are raised in the process.
QUESTIONS PARENTS MAY HAVE ABOUT PLANNING FOR A CHILD TO LEAVE SCHOOL
If my child is going on to College or University, do they have to accept assessments that were done by the school?
All colleges and universities are autonomous institutions and therefore establish their own criteria for the assessment of a student’s accommodations. Please contact the Office for Special Needs at the institution your child is interested in attending to determine individual requirements.
Do Colleges or Universities have to accept my child’s identification as “an exceptional pupil” as decided by an IPRC (Identification, Placement and Review Committee)?
No, they do not, since the IPRC decision is valid only in the school board which made the decision. However, the IPRC information, and any other assessment information, is valuable and should be shared with the Office for Special Needs at the institution your child is interested in attending to aid in the assessment of individual student strengths and needs.
Who is responsible for planning related to leaving school?
As part of the IEP, the teacher, student and parents all have an integral part in the planning for leaving school. In addition however, there may be many others who can play a positive role in planning for a transition to a post-secondary institution, such as secondary school guidance services and offices for special needs at the post-secondary level.
When will planning begin?
There is no predetermined time to begin this process. However, the earlier relevant assessment information can be shared with the office of special needs the better the chance that appropriate accommodations will in place at the beginning of the school year.
QUESTIONS A PARENT MAY HAVE REGARDING A PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
What is a psychological assessment?
A psychological assessment evaluates thinking, learning, behaviour and/or socialemotional adjustment. The assessment may include interviews, observation, testing, and consultation with other professionals such as your child’s teacher(s) or the special education resource teacher.
Before the assessment can take place, the psychologist or psychological associate is required to contact you to explain the assessment in more detail and to obtain your informed consent.
Why has the school suggested a psychological assessment?
Teachers often refer students who are experiencing significant difficulties at school for a psychological assessment. Students may be having difficulty with reading, writing or math, or they may have difficulty with their feelings or behaviour. A psychological assessment is usually recommended after the school has tried other ways to support a student’s learning, but with limited success.
What skills will be evaluated?
The assessment may include evaluations of: thinking and reasoning ability; memory; visualmotor skills; academic skills; attention / executive functioning; behaviour / emotional adjustment; adaptive skills.
The assessment also typically includes interviews with parents, teachers and the student, a review of previous report cards and the Individual Education Plan (if applicable), and a review of previous assessments and relevant background information.
Where does the assessment take place?
The assessment takes place at your child’s school, in a quiet room, away from the regular classroom.
How long does the assessment take?
It usually takes between 5 to 8 hours to administer all of the required test activities to complete an assessment. The type and number of assessment tools used for the assessment depends on your child’s age and his or her difficulties at school. Testing is completed over two or more days at school. The student is provided with breaks at the normal recess and lunch times.
How should I prepare my child?
It is important to talk to children about what will happen before any procedure, including a psychological assessment. Children typically feel less anxious when they know what to expect. Let your child know that he or she will be spending some time for part of the school day working with a psychologist or psychological associate. Tell your child that the psychologist/psychological associate will ask him or her to complete some activities to get information about how he or she thinks and learns. Tell your child that the psychologist/psychological associate will ask lots of questions, and will have other, more “hands on” activities to do, like puzzles and drawing. Some activities are similar to school work (e.g., reading, math, spelling, writing, etc.).
Most students report that some of the assessment activities are easy and some are hard. Most students also report enjoying the assessment process. It is important, however, not to mislead the student. Avoid using words like “games” or “fun” to describe the assessment activities.
Before getting started, the psychologist or psychological associate will spend some time explaining things to your child and will not proceed unless he or she believes that your child is feeling comfortable with the process.
Make sure that your child has a good night’s sleep the night before the assessment and that he or she has had a good breakfast that morning.
If your child is ill on any of the assessment days, it is best to reschedule. It is important for us to see your child when he or she is feeling well. Make sure that the psychologist / psychological associate is aware of any medication that your child is taking. If your child takes medication on a daily basis to help manage AD/HD symptoms, make sure they have had the regular doses.
If your child wears glasses or a hearing aid, make sure he or she is using these on the scheduled assessment days.
How do I hear about the results?
The psychologist/psychological associate will meet with you to provide you with feedback about your child’s results. Usually, these meetings happen at your child’s school two to three weeks after the testing is completed. Your child’s teacher, special education resource teacher, and the school principal or vice-principal also attend to hear the results, as they pertain to your child’s strengths and needs at school. If you would prefer to hear the results individually, prior to meeting at the school, this can be arranged.
Later, you will receive a written report that summarizes the results of the assessment and the recommendations to support your child is learning and/or behaviour at school. A copy of the report will be placed in your child’s Ontario Student Record (OSR) at school, so that your child’s teachers can use the information to help plan for his or her needs. If you do not want a copy of the report to be placed in the OSR, you need to notify the principal of your child’s school in writing. With your written permission, a copy of the report can be sent to other professionals involved in your child’s care (e.g., pediatrician, neurologist, psychiatrist, etc.).
Who performs the assessment?
Within the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, all psychological services, including assessments, are provided by members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario. (see www.cpo.on.ca for more information). By law, no one may use the words “psychology” or “psychological” to represent their services unless they are members of the College. This restriction is intended to protect the public by ensuring that only appropriately qualified, regulated professionals provide services under these terms.
There are two titles in Ontario:
Psychologists are trained at the Doctoral level (e.g., Ph.D., Psy.D). They are also required to meet all of the additional requirements mandated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario, including a minimum of1500 hours of supervised practice following graduation, two written exams, and one oral exam to demonstrate professional competence. The letters “C. Psych.” following a person’s name stand for “Certificate of Registration as a Psychologist” as members of the College of Psychologists.
Psychological Associates are trained at the Master’s level (e.g., M.A., M.Sc., Dip. C.S.). They are also required to meet the additional requirements of the College of Psychologists, including four or more years of relevant, post-masters, full-time work experience. At least 2 of these 4 years must have been completed under the supervision of a regulated member of the College. They must then complete an additional 1500 hours of supervised practice, in an area of psychology directly relevant to their intended area of practice, plus pass two written examination and one oral examination. The letters “C. Psych. Assoc.” following a person’s name stand for “Certificate of Registration as a Psychological Associate” as members of the College of Psychologists.