Special Education in Ontario Schools: A Critical Review and Analysis (7th Edition)
What is Special Education in Ontario Schools? A Comprehensive Overview
Special education is the provision of programs and services for students who have special education needs. These needs may be related to learning, behaviour, communication, physical, sensory, or multiple exceptionalities. Special education in Ontario schools is governed by legislation, policy, and funding from the Ministry of Education.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of special education in Ontario schools, based on the 7th edition of the book Special Education in Ontario Schools by Sheila Bennett, Don Dworet, and Ken Weber, as well as the Special Education in Ontario Kindergarten to Grade 12 Policy and Resource Guide published by the Ministry of Education. We will cover the following topics:
Legislation, policy, and funding for special education in Ontario
Standards for school boards' special education plans
Early identification, assessment, and transition planning for students with special education needs
The identification placement review committee (IPRC) process for determining exceptionalities and placements
The individual education plan (IEP) process for developing personalized programs and services
Other programs and services available for students with special education needs
Legislation, Policy, and Funding for Special Education in Ontario
The main legislation that regulates special education in Ontario is the Education Act and its regulations. The Education Act states that every exceptional pupil is entitled to receive appropriate special education programs and services without payment of fees. It also defines an exceptional pupil as "a pupil whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that he or she is considered to need placement in a special education program".
The Ministry of Education sets out the policy framework and standards for special education in Ontario through various documents, such as Policies and Procedures for Special Education in Ontario, The Individual Education Plan (IEP): A Resource Guide, Standards for School Boards' Special Education Plans, and Categories and Definitions of Exceptionalities. These documents outline the roles and responsibilities of school boards, schools, principals, teachers, parents, and students in special education, as well as the procedures and processes for identification,
and transition planning.
The Ministry of Education also provides funding for special education through various grants and allocations. The main sources of funding are the Special Education Grant (SEG), which consists of six components: Special Education Per Pupil Amount (SEPPA), Differentiated Special Education Needs Amount (DSENA), Special Equipment Amount (SEA), Special Incidence Portion (SIP), Behaviour Expertise Amount (BEA), and Facilities Amount; and the High Needs Amount (HNA), which is based on a statistical model that considers various factors such as demographics,
and student achievement.
Standards for School Boards' Special Education Plans
Every school board in Ontario is required to develop and maintain a special education plan that outlines how it provides programs and services for students with special education needs. The plan must be reviewed annually by the board's Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), which consists of representatives from local associations of parents of exceptional children,
and other community members. The plan must also be submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval every year.
The standards for school boards' special education plans are set out by the Ministry of Education in Part B of the Special Education in Ontario Kindergarten to Grade 12 Policy and Resource Guide. The standards cover 12 areas: roles and responsibilities; early identification procedures and intervention strategies; identification placement review committee (IPRC) process; individual education plans (IEPs); provincial
The Individual Education Plan (IEP) Process
The IEP is a written plan that describes the special education programs and services that are tailored to meet the individual needs of a student with an exceptionality. The IEP must be developed within 30 school days of placing a student in a special education program. The IEP must be reviewed at least once every reporting period. The IEP must be developed by a team that includes: the principal; at least one teacher who knows or will teach the student; parents/guardians; students (if 16 years or older); other professionals or agencies who provide support or services to the student.
The IEP must include: basic information about the student; reason(s) for developing an IEP; areas of strength; areas of need; current level of achievement; annual goals; learning expectations; teaching strategies; assessment methods; accommodations; resources; transition plans. The IEP must also indicate whether modifications have been made to curriculum expectations or alternative expectations have been developed based on life skills or functional skills.
The IEP is a working document that guides the student's learning and progress. It also serves as a communication tool between the school and the home, as well as a record of the student's achievements and needs. The IEP should be shared with all staff members who are involved in the student's education, as well as with the student and the parents/guardians. The IEP should be revised as needed to reflect changes in the student's needs, goals, expectations, or programs and services.
Other Programs and Services Available for Students with Special Education Needs
In addition to regular classroom instruction and individualized programs based on IEPs, students with special education needs may benefit from other programs and services offered by school boards or community partners. Some examples are:
Provincial and demonstration schools: These are specialized schools that provide programs and services for students who are deaf, blind, deaf-blind, or have severe learning disabilities. Provincial schools are operated by the Ministry of Education, while demonstration schools are operated by school boards under contract with the Ministry of Education.
Special education staff: These are staff members who have specialized training or qualifications in special education, such as special education teachers, educational assistants, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, etc. They provide direct or indirect support to students with special education needs in various settings.
Equipment: This refers to any devices, materials, or software that assist students with special education needs in accessing the curriculum or participating in school activities. Examples include computers, assistive technology, adaptive furniture, sensory equipment, etc. Equipment can be funded by the Ministry of Education through the Special Equipment Amount (SEA) grant or by other sources.
Accessibility: This refers to the removal of barriers that prevent students with special education needs from fully participating in school life. Accessibility can be achieved through physical modifications to buildings or facilities, provision of alternative formats for information or communication, provision of accommodations or supports for learning or assessment, etc.
Transportation: This refers to the provision of transportation services for students with special education needs who require them to attend school or access programs and services. Transportation can be funded by the Ministry of Education through various grants or by other sources.
Coordination of services with other ministries or agencies: This refers to the collaboration and communication between school boards and other ministries or agencies that provide support or services to students with special education needs. Examples include health care providers, social service agencies, child welfare agencies, community organizations, etc.
Transition planning: This refers to the process that helps students with special education needs prepare for changes in their educational settings or stages. Transition planning should begin as early as possible and involve the student,
and other relevant professionals or agencies. Transition planning should address
the student's goals,
and supports required for successful transitions. Transition planning should also include strategies for monitoring
the student's progress
Special education in Ontario schools is a complex and dynamic field that requires ongoing collaboration and communication among various stakeholders. Students with special education needs have diverse and unique learning profiles that require personalized programs and services to meet their potential. Special education in Ontario schools is guided by legislation,
and funding from
the Ministry of Education,
as well as by standards
for school boards' special education plans.
Special education in Ontario schools also involves various processes
and procedures such as early identification,
and other programs
Special education in Ontario schools aims to provide equitable
for all students
with special education needs. ca3e7ad8fd