Special Education in Ontario (Draft Version, 2017)

PART E: The Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Back to the table of contents

Introduction

This part of the guide sets out the Ministry of Education's standards for the development, implementation, monitoring, and review of Individual Education Plans (IEPs). These standards were introduced in the document Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000), and remain unchanged.1 This part of the guide also provides information on how the transition plan is developed as part of the IEP, and describes effective practices related to various aspects of IEP development. It explains the importance of collaboration when developing an IEP and describes how best to provide accommodations, modify expectations, and plan instruction and assessment. It also suggests how to seek resolution to any disagreements that may arise during the IEP process.

Included at the end of this part is a sample IEP template that is aligned with the provincial standards for developing IEPs (see Appendix E-2). It was designed to assist school boards in developing their IEPs. Boards that choose to develop their own form must ensure that it addresses all the elements outlined in this part of the guide. While the ministry does not mandate a particular management system for the IEP, most boards use an electronic management system.

The ministry has also developed a variety of sample IEPs as a resource for school boards. These samples can be found on the Special Education domain of the EduGAINS website.

Standards for the IEP

The provincial standards for the IEP that were introduced in Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000) remain the standards that must be met by school boards across the province today. The components of the IEP standards and the associated responsibilities outlined in that document are the accepted, effective practices of school boards across Ontario. For the benefit of school boards that have relied on the Standards document since 2000–01, the numbering of sections in this part of the guide is consistent with the numbering of the standards in the earlier document, from 1 through 14.

Compliance with the Standards

The ministry will conduct reviews of selected boards' IEPs on an annual basis to assess compliance with the standards. Where the ministry determines that a board has not complied fully with the standards, the ministry will require the board to amend its practices as necessary.

Requirements under Ontario Regulation 181/98 and Policy/Program Memoranda Nos. 140 and 156

Under Ontario Regulation 181/98, “Identification and Placement of Exceptional Pupils”, principals are required to ensure that an IEP is developed for every student who has been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), within 30 school days of the student's placement in a special education program. Under this regulation, the IEP must include a transition plan for each exceptional student who is 14 years of age or older who is making the transition from secondary school to postsecondary activities, unless the student was identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness.

Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 6(2)–6(8), 7(4)–7(7), and section 8

  1. (2) The board shall promptly notify the principal of the school at which the special education program is to be provided of the need to develop an individual education plan for the pupil in consultation with the parent and, where the pupil is 16 years of age or older, the pupil.

    (3) The individual education plan must include,

    (a) specific educational expectations for the pupil;

    (b) an outline of the special education program and services to be received by the pupil; and

    (c) a statement of the methods by which the pupil's progress will be reviewed.

    (4) Where the pupil is 14 years of age or older, the individual education plan must also include a plan for transition to appropriate postsecondary school activities, such as work, further education, and community living.

    (5) Subsection (4) does not apply in respect of a pupil identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness.

    (6) In developing the individual education plan, the principal shall,

    (a) consult with the parent and, where the pupil is 16 years of age or older, the pupil; and

    (b) take into consideration any recommendations made by the committee [IPRC] or the Special Education Tribunal, as the case may be, regarding special education programs or special education services.

    (7) In developing a transition plan under subsection (4), the principal shall consult with such community agencies and post-secondary educational institutions as he or she considers appropriate.

    (8) Within 30 school days* after placement of the pupil in the program, the principal shall ensure that the plan is completed and a copy of it sent to a parent of the pupil and, where the pupil is 16 years of age or older, the pupil.

  2. (4) Where an individual education plan does not include a plan for transition to appropriate post-secondary school activities and the pupil has attained the age of 14 or will attain the age of 14 within the school year, the principal shall ensure that a transition plan is developed and included in the individual education plan.

    (5) Subsection (4) does not apply in respect of a pupil identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness.

    (6) In reviewing an individual education plan that includes a transition plan or in developing a transition plan under subsection (4), the principal shall consult with such community agencies and post-secondary educational institutions as he or she considers appropriate.

    (7) Within 30 school days of an implementation of a change in placement or, where the placement is confirmed, within 30 school days of receiving the notice under subsection (1), the principal shall ensure that,

    (a) the plan has been reviewed and updated as appropriate;

    (b) a transition plan has been added to the individual education plan where required by subsection (4); and

    (c) a copy of the individual education plan has been sent to a parent of the pupil and, where the pupil is 16 years of age or older, the pupil.

  3. The principal shall ensure that the individual education plan for a pupil is included in the record kept in respect of the pupil under clause 265(d) of the Act, unless a parent of the pupil has objected in writing.

*As amended by Ontario Regulation 137/01.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 6(2)–6(8), 7(4)–7(7), and section 8)

In addition to developing an IEP for every student identified as exceptional by an IPRC, as required by the regulation, school boards may also develop IEPs for students who are receiving special education programs and/or related services but who have not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC.

With the release of Policy/Program Memorandum No. 140, “Incorporating Methods of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Into Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)” (2007), it became a requirement for principals to ensure that ABA methods are incorporated into the IEPs of students with ASD, where appropriate. They must also ensure that relevant school board personnel and community personnel who have previously worked and/or are currently working with a student with an ASD are invited to provide input and participate in the IEP process. Given the range of needs for students with ASD, the principal must ensure that staff developing a student's IEP consider special education program and service options that will best take into account the student's individual strengths and areas of need in the demonstration of learning.

With regard to transition planning, in addition to what is stated above about the requirements under O. Reg. 181/98, ministry policy requires that a transition plan be developed for all students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, who have an IEP, whether or not they have been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) and including those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness. For a list of the policy requirements related to transition planning, specifically the additional requirements related to Policy/Program Memoranda Nos. 140 and 156, see the box below.

Policy Requirements for Transition Plans

Policy/Program Memorandum No. 156
With PPM No. 156, “Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs” (2013), the requirement for transition planning is extended to all students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, who have an IEP, whether or not they have been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) and including those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness. At the discretion of the board, a transition plan may also be developed for students who receive special education programs and/or services but do not have an IEP and have not been identified as exceptional.

PPM No. 156 applies to all the key transitions, including the following: on entry to school, between grades, from one program area or subject to another, when moving from school to school or from an outside agency/facility to a school, from elementary to secondary school, and from secondary school to the next appropriate pathway. In some cases, a student may have no particular need of support during transitions; in those cases, the transition plan should state that no actions are required.

Policy/Program Memorandum No. 140
PPM No. 140, “Incorporating Methods of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Into Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)” (2007), requires transition planning, as appropriate, between various activities and settings for students with autism spectrum disorders.

PPM No. 140 also requires that:

  • relevant applied behaviour analysis (ABA) methods be used to support transitions, where appropriate, and
  • these methods be recorded in the student's transition plan.

Students with ASD undergo and require support for some or all of the key transitions listed in the previous section, as well as in making the transition from one activity or setting to another in the same classroom or environment.

What Is an IEP?

An IEP is:

  • a written plan describing the special education program and/or services required by a particular student, based on a thorough assessment of the strengths and needs that affect the student's ability to learn and to demonstrate learning;
  • a working document that contains the transition plan, a detailed and coordinated plan that helps to ensure that a student has supports in place to facilitate educational transitions;
  • a record of any accommodations needed to help the student achieve the learning expectations identified in the IEP, given the student's identified learning strengths and needs;
  • a working document that identifies learning expectations that are modified from the expectations for the regular grade level in a particular subject or course, as outlined in the Ministry of Education's curriculum policy documents, if modifications are required;
  • a working document that identifies alternative expectations, if required, in areas not represented in the Ontario curriculum;
  • a record of the teaching strategies specific to modified and alternative expectations and of assessment methods to be used to determine the student's progress towards achieving these expectations;
  • a working document that is developed at the beginning of a school year or semester or at the start of a placement and that is reviewed and adjusted throughout the reporting period;
  • an accountability tool for the student, the student's parents, and everyone who has responsibilities under the plan for helping the student meet the stated goals and learning expectations as the student progresses through the Ontario curriculum.

See Appendix E-3 for a detailed checklist of all the components of an IEP.

An IEP is not:

  • a description of everything that will be taught to the student;
  • a list of all the teaching strategies used in regular classroom instruction;
  • a document that records all of the student's learning expectations, including those that are not modified from the regular grade level curriculum expectations;
  • a daily lesson plan.

The IEP Process

Planning an educational program for a student with special education needs is best accomplished through the combined efforts of, and with close communication among, the student, the student's parents, school staff, members of the community, and other professionals involved with the student. A collaborative IEP process that includes the development of a transition plan provides an opportunity for all who are involved with the student to work together to provide a program that will foster achievement and success. The team process should include the student and the student's parents, as outlined in sections 9 and 10 of this part of the guide. Appendix E-4 provides a detailed description of the roles and responsibilities of educators and other professionals.

Once a student has been placed in a special education program, successful practice suggests that the principal should assign to one teacher the respon­sibility for coordinating the development, implementation, and monitoring of the student's IEP. In special circumstances, the principal or another teacher may be assigned the responsibility for coordinating the transitions.

Regardless who is coordinating the IEP process, decisions related to program planning (represented in the sample IEP template in Appendix E-2 by the sections covering Current (Baseline) Level of Achievement, Annual Program Goals, Learning Expectations, Teaching Strategies, and Assessment Methods) should be made by the individual who teaches the student and prepares the report card – usually the classroom teacher. This teacher is responsible for instructing the student and for assessing the student's learning in relation to the learning expectations identified in the student's IEP.

A team approach should underlie the IEP process, and the process should focus on how the student is expected to progress through the Ontario curriculum – with or without accommodations, modified expectations, and/or alternative programs (those not described in the Ontario curriculum) – as well as on how the student will make key educational transitions, including the transition to a postsecondary destination.

The IEP process can be broken down into five phases:

  1. gathering information
  2. setting the direction
  3. developing the IEP as it relates to the student's special education program and services
  4. implementing the IEP
  5. reviewing and updating the IEP

The tasks that need to be undertaken in phases 1 to 3 may be delegated to or assumed by different team members in order to facilitate completion of the IEP within 30 school days of the student's placement in a special education program. Educators on the student's team may focus on the particular subject or course in which they are responsible for direct instruction.

The box below outlines the main steps in each phase of the process and provides a reference to the sections of this part of the guide that deal with the requirements and effective practices connected with the phase.

Overview of the IEP Process

  1. Gather Information (consult sections 1–11)
    • Review the student's Ontario Student Record (OSR) (including the IPRC's statement of decision and/or previous IEPs)
    • Consult with parents, the student, school staff, and other professionals
    • Gather information through observation of the student
    • Conduct further assessments, if necessary
    • Consolidate and record information
  2. Set the Direction (consult sections 1–3 and 9–12)
    • Establish a collaborative approach
    • Establish roles and responsibilities
    • Begin work on the IEP (e.g., record the reason for the IEP, record personal information, list relevant assessment data)
    • Indicate the student's strengths and needs on the IEP (as identified in the IPRC's statement of decision, where applicable)
  3. Develop the IEP as It Relates to the Student's Special Education Program and Services (consult sections 4–8)
    • Incorporate program suggestions from the IPRC or Special Education Tribunal (if applicable)
    • Incorporate applied behaviour analysis (ABA) methods into the IEPs of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), where appropriate
    • Record decisions about program exemptions, course substitutions, and eligibility for a diploma or a certificate
    • Determine, for every subject or course, the program option that will best suit the student's needs (i.e., whether the student requires accommodations only or accommodations and modifications) and decide whether alternative programs are needed
    • Determine accommodations; record subjects or courses in which the student is to be provided with accommodations only
    • Plan and document subjects or courses with modified expectations
    • Plan and document alternative programs or courses
    • Determine and record teaching strategies and assessment methods for modified and alternative expectations
    • Plan for and document required human resources
    • Record information about individualized equipment
    • Record information about evaluation and reporting
    • Record information about provincial assessments
    • Develop a transition plan
    • Record details of parent/student consultations
    • Secure the principal's approval
  4. Implement the IEP (consult sections 6.2, 13, and 14)
    • Share the completed IEP with the student, parents, school staff, and other professionals (providing a copy to parents, and to the student if 16 or older)
    • Put the IEP into practice (classroom/subject teachers and support personnel)
    • Continuously assess the student's progress
    • Adjust the IEP as necessary (recording any changes in goals, expectations, teaching strategies, and other accommodations, etc.)
    • Evaluate the student's learning and report the results of the evaluation to the student's parents
  5. Review and Update the IEP (consult sections 13 and 14)
    • Update the learning expectations at the beginning of each reporting period, on the basis of the results of last period's assessments and/or evaluation
    • Review the IEP regularly, including the transition plan, and record revisions
    • Store the IEP in the documentation file of the student's Ontario Student Record

Most IEPs follow the timetable of a school year or semester: They are developed in the early fall and cover the time up to the June reporting period or the end of the semester. While the outline of the IEP process in the box above appears linear, it is important to note that the IEP process is cyclical. It involves ongoing review, evaluation, and adjustment on a term–by–term basis.

Components of the IEP Standards and Effective Practices

The fourteen sections that follow outline the components of the IEP standards, along with effective practices and supporting examples. The sections follow the order of the sections to be completed in the ministry's sample IEP template.

  • The first three sections apply to the completion of the first part of the template (see Appendix E-2), including the reason the student requires an IEP, the student's general background, and the student's strengths and needs. This information is essential to the development of the student's special education program and services, which is the subject of sections 4 through 8.
  • To complete sections 1 through 8, it is necessary to first gather information from a variety of sources and to consult with parents, other educators, and the various individuals and agencies involved with the student, and to begin the coordination of staff and resources for developing the plan. These processes are outlined in sections 9, 10, and 11.
  • Sections 12 through 14 address the implementation, monitoring, and review and updating of the IEP.

1. Reason for Developing an IEP

An IEP is developed for a student for one of the following reasons. The relevant reason must be indicated in every IEP:

  • An IEP must be developed for every student who has been identified as an “exceptional pupil” by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), in accordance with Regulation 181/98.
  • An IEP may be developed for a student who has not been identified by an IPRC as exceptional, but who has been deemed by the board to require a special education program or services in order to attend school or to achieve curriculum expectations and/or to demonstrate learning.

Additional considerations:

  • If a school principal determines that a student's achievement will be assessed on the basis of modified expectations, an IEP is required, even in the absence of identification by an IPRC.
  • If a student regularly requires accommodations (including specialized equipment) for instructional or assessment purposes, it is advisable to develop an IEP. Educators should be aware that:
    • in order to receive accommodations during Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessments, a student must have an IEP that identifies the accommodations required;
    • if a Special Equipment Amount (SEA) and/or Special Incidence Portion (SIP) funding application is being made to the Ministry of Education for a student, a student must have an IEP, as supporting documentation, that identifies the accommodations required.

For more information on accommodations for participation in provincial assessments, see section 7. For more information on individualized equipment accommodations, see section 5.3. The Special Education Funding section of Part A provides details on the SEA and SIP funding allocations.

2. IEP Student Profile

In preparing a student's IEP, essential information about the student must be gathered from a variety of sources to establish a basic profile of the student. (The kinds of sources to be used and requirements associated with the gathering of information are outlined in section 11.) The principal must ensure that all of the required student information has been recorded in the IEP and that it is complete and accurate.

The following items must be included in the IEP:

  • Student data
    • Student's full name
    • Date of birth
    • Student identification number – Ontario Education Number (OEN)
    • Current school year
    • Name of the school and principal

In addition to these required items, it might be helpful to include:

  • the language spoken by the student at home;
  • the student's enrolment history, last school attended, attendance patterns, school behaviour, and social skills.
  • Date of the student's most recent IPRC (if applicable)

An IPRC meeting to review the current identification and placement of a student must be held at least once every school year. The date of the meeting should be noted in the IEP. Where the principal of the school at which the special education program is being provided receives written notice from the parents waiving the annual review, the date on which the parents exercised their option to have the annual review waived should be noted on the IEP.

Although it is not a requirement, some school boards also specify that the date of the initial IPRC be included in the IEP.

  • Student's exceptionality

For a student identified as exceptional by an IPRC, the description of the student's exceptionality in the IEP must be consistent with that provided in the IPRC's statement of decision, and must also accord with ministry–accepted categories of exceptionalities and their definitions (see the Categories of Exceptionalities section of Part A).

For a student who has not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC, a brief statement describing the characteristics of the student that make a special education program and/or services necessary must be included.

  • IPRC placement decision (if applicable)

The placement indicated in the IEP must be consistent with the placement specified in the IPRC's statement of decision. The possible options are:

  • a regular class with indirect support;
  • a regular class with resource assistance;
  • a regular class with withdrawal assistance;
  • a special education class with partial integration; and
  • a special education class full time.

(See The IPRC Placement Decision section in Part D for a detailed description of these placement options.)

  • Student's current grade and/or special education class placement
  • Diploma or type of certificate

For secondary students, the type of diploma or certificate that the student is working towards – the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, the Ontario Secondary School Certificate, or the Certificate of Accomplishment – should be indicated.

  • Subjects or courses to which the IEP applies
  • Relevant medical conditions

Any medical conditions affecting the student's ability to attend school or to learn must be listed in the IEP, along with any related specialized health support services2 that the student requires on a constant or intermittent basis. This section of the profile should not include:

  • emergency plans (such as those for anaphylactic reactions);3
  • detailed descriptions of medical condition(s);4
  • medical diagnoses unrelated to the student's ability to attend school or to learn;
  • information on the distribution of oral medication.
  • Relevant assessment data

The IEP must identify the date, source, and results or recommendations of assessment reports that are directly related to the need for a special education program and/or services for the student. The reports may have been prepared or conducted by school or board staff or by outside agencies. Where the student has been identified as exceptional, these reports would have been considered by the IPRC in determining the student's exceptionality and placement. (See also section 11, “Information Sources”.)

Possible sources of assessment data include educational assessments (e.g., reading assessments, math assessments, benchmarks, provincial large-scale assessments), medical/health assessments (e.g., vision, hearing, physical, neurological assessments), speech/language assessments, occupational/physical therapy assessments, behavioural/psychiatric assessments, and psychological assessments. More information on assessment can be found in the Assessing Student Learning section of Part C. The following chart suggests what should and what should not be included in the assessment data section of the IEP.

What to include:
  • reports that support the identification of the student's exceptionality
  • a brief summary statement of each report's findings
  • medical diagnoses that support the identification of the student's exceptionality
  • if desired, current achievement and grade-equivalent scores
What not to include:
  • every report in the student's files
  • numerical scores or percentiles, such as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores
  • medical diagnoses that do not relate to the identification of the student's exceptionality
  • personal/family information
  • achievement or grade-equivalent scores that are not current

The IEP should reflect the connection between the relevant assessment data and the student's learning strengths and needs. Therefore, for the summary statement of each report's findings (noted in the box above), a comment such as “See the OSR” is not adequate. The following are examples of appropriate summary statements:

  • “Report provides a diagnosis of learning disabilities.”
  • “Report affirms average cognitive functioning.”
  • “Information indicates a mild to moderate hearing loss.”
  • “Report finds significant area of need in expressive language skills.”
  • “Report provides a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.”
  • Elementary school program exemptions or secondary school compulsory course substitutions

Decisions relating to program exemptions (elementary) and course substitutions (secondary) are to be recorded in the IEP. The educational rationale for such decisions must be stated.

3. The Student's Strengths and Needs

A clear understanding of the student's strengths and needs is fundamental to the development of an effective special education program and the provision of appropriate accommodations and services to facilitate the student's learning. A description of the student's strengths and needs must be recorded in the IEP.

For students who have been identified as exceptional by an IPRC, a description of strengths and needs will have been provided in the committee's statement of decision. The description in the IEP must be based on and consistent with the description contained in the IPRC's statement, but may elaborate on it to reflect the results of any further assessments conducted or observations made of the student.

In the case of students who have not yet been identified as exceptional, descriptions of strengths and needs must be developed on the basis of appropriate educational, health, and/or psychological assessments, and on the basis of observations of the student.

The descriptions of the student's strengths and needs must be clear and specific. The student's learning expectations (see section 4.3) and special education strategies, accommodations, resources, and other accommodations (see section 5) must be informed by the student's strengths and needs.

Describing Strengths and Needs
When describing the student's strengths, it is appropriate to include information such as the following:

  • learning styles and preferences (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic learner)
  • previously acquired learning skills (e.g., organizational skills, time-management skills)
  • cognitive processing and communication abilities (e.g., expressive language – speaking)

The description of the student's needs should make evident the reasons why the student requires a special education program and/or services. When indicating the student's needs, it is appropriate to include information such as the following:

  • broad cognitive and/or processing challenges (e.g., in the area of visual memory)
  • skill deficits that relate to the student's exceptionality and/or interfere with the student's ability to learn (e.g., in areas such as social skills, attention, emotional control, expressive language – writing)

It is not appropriate to include information here about specific supports or services that the student may need or what the student needs to do. For example, do not indicate the need for:

  • a type or level of human support (e.g., “the student needs an educational assistant” or “the student needs one–to–one assistance”)
  • a specific program or service (e.g., “the student needs speech therapy”)
  • improvement in a particular subject (e.g., “the student's math skills need to improve”)

Program Options: Accommodations, Modified Expectations, and Alternative Expectations
When planning the student's program, the team should identify which of the following options best suits the student's needs in each subject, course, or skill area in which the student will receive instruction:

  • No accommodations or modifications
  • Accommodations only
  • Modified expectations (with or without accommodations)
  • Alternative expectations/programs (with or without accommodations)

A subject or course in which the student requires neither accommodations nor modified or alternative expectations is not included in the IEP.
It is essential that the teacher(s) responsible for providing direct instruction to the student be the primary decision maker(s) in the process of determining the student's programming needs and identifying the appropriate option with respect to each of the relevant subjects, courses, and programs.

All subjects or courses in which the student requires accommodations and/or modified expectations and all alternative programs must be listed in the IEP. Each should be identified as “Accommodated only” (AC), “Modified” (MOD), or “Alternative” (ALT).

“Accommodated only”
The term accommodations refers to the special teaching and assessment strategies, human supports, and/or individualized equipment required by students with special education needs to enable them to learn and demonstrate learning. The provision of accommodations in no way alters the curriculum expectations for the grade level or course. The accommodations, which are likely to apply to all of the student's subjects or courses, must be described in the designated section of the IEP form. (See section 5.1 for types of accommodations.)

Accommodated only (AC) is the term used on the IEP form to identify a subject or course from the Ontario curriculum in which the student requires accommodations alone in order to work towards achieving the regular grade-level expectations. Because the student is working on regular grade-level or regular course curriculum expectations, without modifications, there is no need to include information on current level of achievement, annual program goals, or learning expectations. In other words, the Special Education Program section of the IEP template does not need to be completed when the student requires accommodations alone.

“Modified”
Modifications are changes made in the grade–level expectations for a subject or course in order to meet a student's learning needs. These changes may involve developing expectations that reflect knowledge and skills required in the curriculum for a different grade level and/or increasing or decreasing the number and/or complexity of the regular grade–level curriculum expectations.

Modified (MOD) is the term used on the IEP form to identify a subject or course from the Ontario curriculum in which the student requires modified expectations – expectations that differ in some way from the regular grade-level expectations. (See section 4.3 for more information on how to document modified curriculum expectations in the IEP.) Students may also require certain accommodations to help them achieve the learning expectations in subjects or courses with modified expectations.

For each secondary school course with modified expectations, it is important to indicate clearly in the IEP the extent to which the expectations have been modified. Depending on the extent of the modification, the principal will determine whether achievement of the modified expectations constitutes successful completion of the course and will decide whether the student is eligible to receive a credit for the course (see Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Program Requirements (2016), section 3.3.1.) The principal's decision must be communicated to the parents and the student.

“Alternative”
Alternative expectations are developed to help students acquire knowledge and skills that are not represented in the Ontario curriculum. They either are not derived from a provincial curriculum policy document or are modified so extensively that the Ontario curriculum expectations no longer form the basis of the student's educational program. Because they are not part of a subject or course outlined in the provincial curriculum documents, alternative expectations are considered to constitute alternative programs or alternative courses.

The skill areas in which alternative expectations and programs are often appropriate include gross motor skills, perceptual motor skills, and life skills. Examples of alternative programs include speech remediation, social skill programs, orientation/mobility training, and personal care programs. For the vast majority of students, these programs would be given in addition to modified or regular grade–level expectations from the Ontario curriculum. Alternative programs are provided in both the elementary and the secondary school panels.

Alternative courses, which are available at the secondary school level, are non–credit courses. The course expectations in an alternative course are individualized for the student and generally focus on preparing the student for daily living. School boards must use the “K” course codes and titles found in the ministry's Course Code listings to identify alternative courses. Examples of alternative courses include Transit Training and Community Exploration (KCC), Culinary Skills (KHI), and Money Management and Personal Banking (KBB). (See section 4.3 for more information on how to document alternative expectations in the IEP.)

Alternative (ALT) is the term used to identify an alternative program or an alternative course on the IEP form.

4. The Special Education Program

The special education program section of the IEP, comprising the student's current level of achievement, annual goals, and learning expectations, is developed:

  • if the student is working on modified curriculum expectations;
  • if the student is working on alternative expectations.

If the student is working on all curriculum expectations at the regular grade level, the Special Education Program section is not completed.

The elements described in this section, in combination with the elements described in section 5 – special education strategies, resources, and other accommodations – are at the heart of the IEP.

In preparing an IEP, the in-school team will determine the most suitable program option (see the Program Options box above), develop the student's learning expectations (as appropriate), and determine the appropriate strategies and other accommodations in each subject, course, or skill area to which the IEP applies, then record the details on a separate Special Education Program page for the subject, course, or skill area on the IEP form. The sample template in Appendix E-2 is designed to show the student's learning expectations and the corresponding teaching strategies and assessment methods together, creating a clear, practical reference tool.5

In documenting the student's special education program in the IEP, the teacher must provide information, under the appropriate subject, course, or skill area heading, on the student's:

  • current achievement level (section 4.1);
  • annual program goals (section 4.2);
  • learning expectations (section 4.3).

4.1 The Student's Current (Baseline) Level of Achievement
Information summarizing the student's current level of achievement (or “baseline level of achievement”, which is the term used in the IEP template in Appendix E–2) in each of the subjects, courses, or skill areas to which the IEP applies must be recorded in the IEP. This information will serve as a baseline against which the student's progress towards achievement of his or her learning expectations and annual goals in each subject, course, or skill area will be measured through subsequent assessment and evaluation. As a record of the starting point, this information remains unchanged for the duration of the IEP – that is, to the end of the school year, or the end of the semester in semestered secondary schools.

The student's current level of achievement must be described in the IEP in one of the following ways:

  • For a student who is working on modified curriculum expectations, the level of achievement must be indicated by a letter grade or percentage mark, as reported on the Provincial Report Card.
  • For a student whose needs cannot be met through the Ontario curriculum and who is working on alternative expectations, the level of achievement must be described in terms of the student's progress towards meeting the learning expectations that form the student's educational program, as outlined in the IEP and reflected in the most recent report card.

Current Level of Achievement – Elementary Students
For elementary students, the student's current level of achievement is the mark or letter grade for a subject from the most recent Provincial Report Card (typically from the previous school year). This mark/grade must be recorded in the IEP, and the grade level(s) of the modified expectations on which the evaluation was based must be identified. If the modified expec­tations were based on the regular grade–level curriculum, with changes to the number and/or complexity of the expectations, the notation “MOD”, for modified expectations, is added after the mark/grade.

Example
The following example shows how current levels of achievement would be recorded for a Grade 4 student who requires modified expectations in three subjects – language, core French, and science and technology. The student's current level of achievement in these subjects is taken from the student's most recent Provincial Report Card – the Grade 3 report card issued the previous June. Note that, being in Grade 4, [the student] is studying French as a second language (core French) for the first time. In this case, “not applicable” (N/A) is entered in the IEP for current level of achievement.

Subject: Language
Current Level of Achievement:
Letter grade: C+
Curriculum grade level: 2

Subject: Core French
Current Level of Achievement:
Letter grade: N/A
Curriculum grade level: 4 (MOD)

Subject: Science and Technology
Current Level of Achievement:
Letter grade: B
Curriculum grade level: 3 (MOD)

Current Level of Achievement – Secondary Students
For secondary students, the student's current level of achievement is indicated by the student's percentage mark in the prerequisite course. For a student's first course in a subject area (e.g., Introduction to Business, Grade 9) or for a course that has no prerequisite, “not applicable” (N/A) should be entered in the IEP for current level of achievement. The name of the prerequisite course and the course type should be provided along with the student's percentage mark. If the modifications in that course involved changes to the number and/or complexity of the regular curriculum expectations, the notation “MOD”, for “modified expectations”, should be added after the course information.

Example
Current levels of achievement for a Grade 11 student who requires modified expectations in three courses are recorded as follows:

Course: Foundations for College Mathematics, College Preparation (MBF3C)
Current Level of Achievement:
Prerequisite: Foundations of Mathematics, Grade 10, Applied (MOD)
Percentage mark: 64%

Course: Environmental Science, Workplace Preparation (SVN3E)
Current Level of Achievement:
Prerequisite: Science, Grade 9, Applied (MOD)
Percentage mark: 71%

Course: Raising Healthy Children, Grade 11, Open (HPC3O)
Current Level of Achievement:
Prerequisite: None
Percentage mark: N/A

Current Level of Achievement – Students with Alternative Programs
A student's current level of achievement in an alternative program or course should be indicated in a description taken from the student's latest report card (either a Provincial Report Card or the alternative report that may have been used). A letter grade or percentage mark is neither necessary nor advisable.

Examples – Elementary

  • “In social skills, [the student] is able to employ 'Stop, Think, Do', or a similar technique, in an average of two out of ten situations.”
  • “In personal care, [the student] is able to locate his lunch in the classroom cupboard.”
  • “In language and communication, [the student] demonstrates functional language skills with the assistance of a speech-generating device, using some words consistently and using a few signs and pictures.”

Examples – Secondary

  • “In work experience, [the student] has successfully completed two placements within the school and is ready to work in the local community.”
  • “In mathematics, [the student], with support, demonstrates some money, measurement, and calculation skills.”
  • “In language and communication, [the student] uses verbal skills to exchange ideas and information in some settings.”

Additional examples of current level of achievement in sample IEPs can be found on the website of EduGAINS.

4.2 The Student's Annual Program Goals
Annual program goals are statements describing what a student can reasonably be expected to accomplish in a particular subject, course, or skill area by the end of the school year, or by the end of the semester in semestered secondary schools. Annual program goals represent reasonable objectives, not rigid requirements. They may need to be revised as the teacher develops a better understanding of the student's learning processes and/or the student's rate of acquisition of knowledge and skills changes.

In the case of modified expectations, the annual goals may be modified from the overall expectations in the curriculum policy document for a subject at a particular grade level or for a secondary school course.

In the case of alternative expectations, the annual goals will be developed on the basis of the student's identified strengths and needs and will build on previously achieved annual goals. They will constitute a summary of the student's alternative learning expectations.

The annual goals recorded in the IEP must:

  • take into account the student's strengths, needs, and current level of achievement in the program area;
  • be expressed in terms of realistic and observable achievements.

Annual goals must be recorded in the IEP for each subject, course, or skill area to which the IEP applies.

Annual Program Goals – Elementary Students
For elementary students, annual program goals should be expressed as observable, measurable outcomes and can include observable achievement in the development of thinking skills, such as memory, inquiry, analysis, integration, application, and so on.

Examples

  • “In mathematics, by the end of the year, [the student] will use critical/creative thinking processes that are increasingly sophisticated and effective, e.g., strategies that demonstrate precise and elegant proof and reasoning. (Math, Grade 5)”
  • “In reading, by the end of the year, [the student] will demonstrate improvement in her ability to read different kinds of selected texts, e.g., literary and graphic, and show that she can use a couple of strategies to construct meaning. (Reading, Grade 7)”

Annual Program Goals – Secondary Students
For a student who is taking a secondary school course with some modified expectations, the annual program goal(s) can be developed from the overall expectations or from the broad aims of the course outlined in the course description.

Examples – Some modified expectations

  • “In science, by the end of the year, [the student] will be able to relate science to the environment; develop the basic skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry; and demonstrate an improved understanding of some of the basic concepts of science. (Science, Grade 9, Applied, (SNC1P))”
  • “In geography, by the end of the semester, [the student] will demonstrate understanding of some of the unique environmental and political characteristics of two regions. [The student] will also apply the geographic inquiry process and use basic spatial skills to investigate the impact of the travel industry on natural environments and human communities. (Travel and Tourism: A Geographic Perspective, Grade 11, Open, (CGG3O))”

For secondary school courses in which the student requires significantly modified expectations, the annual program goals are not derived from the overall expectations. In such cases, the annual program goals should be expressed as observable, measurable outcomes and can include observable achievement in the development of thinking skills, such as memory, inquiry, analysis, integration, application, and so on.

Examples – Significantly modified expectations

  • “In mathematics, by the end of the year, [the student] will be able to select and apply a variety of problem–solving strategies related to the Grade 4, 5, and 6 curriculum expectations in all strands. (Numeracy and Numbers, KMM)”6
  • “In drama, by the end of the semester, [the student] will demonstrate improvement in his understanding of drama and further develop his performance, creative, and communication skills. (Drama, ADA)”

Annual Program Goals – Students with Alternative Programs
For elementary and secondary students who have alternative programs, annual program goals provide a summary of the alternative expectations.

As mentioned earlier (see the Program Options box), for a student who is taking an alternative course, which does not lead to a credit, school boards must use the course code beginning with “K” given for that course in the ministry's list of Common Course Codes.

Examples – Elementary

  • “In conversational speech, by the end of the year, [the student] will be able to independently state his strengths and needs in social conversations and independently recognize when he has not been understood.”
  • “In orientation and mobility, by the end of the year, [the student] will develop safe and efficient orientation and mobility skills to be used in the school and within the neighbourhood of the school.”

Examples – Secondary

  • “In science, by the end of the year, [the student] will demonstrate improvement in her ability to recall and communicate basic concepts, in her inquiry skills, and in her ability to relate science to the world outside the school. (Exploring Our Environment, KSN)”
  • “By the end of the semester, [the student], with minimal support, will be able to follow instructions when making various transitions throughout the day – transitions from one activity to another within the special education classroom and transitions to or from a transportation vehicle.”

Additional examples of program goals in sample IEPs can be found on the website of EduGAINS.

4.3 The Student's Learning Expectations
Learning expectations are statements that describe the specific knowledge and skills that the student should be able to demonstrate within a specified time period during the school year. They represent the learning a student needs to acquire in order to progress from the current level of achievement identified in the IEP to achievement of the related annual goals identified in the IEP. Based on the knowledge and skills the student demonstrates relative to the learning expectations at particular times during the year, parents and teachers will be able to gauge how well the student is progressing towards achieving the annual goals identified in the IEP.

Starting on the student's first day of placement in the special education program, the educators begin to develop a set of learning expectations for implementation and record them in the IEP.

If the student is working entirely on modified or alternative expectations, a representative sample of the student's learning expectations in each subject, course, or skill area must be recorded in the IEP.

The learning expectations recorded in the IEP must:

  • be clearly identified as modified or alternative expectations;
  • if modified, include identification of grade level;
  • be based on the student's learning strengths and needs;
  • describe specific, realistic, and observable achievements;
  • reflect learning that is focused on the student's annual program goals in each subject, course, or skill area.

Learning expectations should be expressed in such a way that the student and parents can understand, to the extent possible:

  • exactly what the student is expected to know or to be able to do;
  • the basis on which the student's performance will be evaluated.

In developing learning expectations for a student, the teacher should take care to provide an appropriate challenge for the student. The expectations should be designed to develop the student's literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills. They should be achievable by the student, with reasonable effort, during the reporting period.

The learning expectations must be reviewed at least once every reporting period and updated as appropriate in view of the student's progress. These updates must be entered and dated in the IEP (see section 14, Review and Updating.) The student's parents and the student (if 16 or older) must be advised of any such updates and the parent/student consultation must be recorded in the IEP as well (see section 9, Parent/Student Consultation).

For each modified or alternative learning expectation, the IEP should indicate:

  • the corresponding teaching strategy, if individualized for the student and particular to that expectation;
  • the corresponding assessment method.

See section 5.1 below for a discussion of individualized teaching strategies and assessment methods.

Learning Expectations – Elementary Students
An elementary student's modified learning expectations should be listed on the Special Education Program page. The modified expectations should contain an indication of how they differ from the expectations in the ministry's curriculum policy documents.

Example
“[The student] will demonstrate achievement of all of the expectations for Grade 8 history as given in the curriculum document, except for the following, which have been modified:

  • describe the impact that differences in legal status and in the distribution of rights had on a few groups and/or individuals living in Canada between 1850 and 1890 [the Grade 8 expectation requires students to 'assess' rather than 'describe', and to assess the impact on 'various' rather than 'a few' groups and/or individuals];
  • describe orally a couple of actions that a few groups and/or individuals living in Canada between 1850 and 1890 took to improve their lives [the Grade 8 expectation requires students to ‘analyse' rather than ‘describe' and no specific format for presentation is stated; it also requires students to analyse ‘various' rather than ‘a few' actions].
  • (History, Grade 8 – Modified expectations)”

For elementary students, expectations may also be modified to represent knowledge and skills from a different grade level. In such cases, the grade level must be specified after the expectation.

Example
The expectations for a Grade 4 student whose modified expectations in mathematics and language represent knowledge and skills at a different grade level might be expressed as follows:

  • “[The student] will solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of whole numbers to18, using a variety of mental strategies. (Grade 2 expectation) [the Grade 4 expectation requires students to use a variety of mental strategies to add and subtract 'two–digit whole numbers' rather than 'whole numbers to 18']”
  • “[The student] will improve her ability to read unfamiliar words using cues such as familiar words that build on her prior knowledge of language, and blending and segmenting of individual sounds in words. (Grade 1 expectation) [the Grade 4 expectation requires students to use similar and more complex types of cues to 'predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words' rather than 'improve [their] ability to read unfamiliar words']”

In some cases, a student's complete program in a particular subject may comprise only a small subset of the regular grade-level expectations, revised to reduce the level of complexity.

Example
[The student] is in Grade 4 and his teacher has identified the following social studies expectations, modified from People and Environments: Political and Physical Regions of Canada in the Grade 4 curriculum, as appropriate for evaluating his achievement in the strand:

“[The student] will:

  • describe some of the ways that industrial development can have an environmental impact [the Grade 4 expectation requires students to 'assess' rather than 'describe' aspects of the environmental impact, and to assess the impact in 'two or more regions of Canada'];
  • describe some actions taken by industry and citizens to use land and resources more sustainably [the Grade 4 expectation requires students to describe 'some key actions' rather than 'some actions', and to 'assess their effectiveness'];
  • explain how people use the land, for both industry and recreation, in various regions of Canada [the Grade 4 expectation requires students to 'identify some of the main human activities' rather than to 'explain how people use the land, for both industry and recreation'].
  • (Social Studies, Grade 4 – Modified expectations)”

Learning Expectations – Secondary Students
For most secondary school courses, modified learning expectations will be based on the regular curriculum expectations for the course but will reflect changes to the number and/or complexity of the expectations. When modified expectations are developed for secondary school courses, all components of the course must be addressed so that the student does not have gaps in his or her learning.

As stated earlier (see the Program Options box), for secondary school courses, it is important to monitor, and to reflect clearly in the IEP, the extent to which expectations have been modified. The principal will determine whether achievement of the modified expectations constitutes successful completion of the course, and will decide whether the student is eligible to receive a credit for the course. This decision must be communicated to the parents and the student.

When a student is expected to achieve most of the curriculum expectations for the course, the modified expectations should identify how they differ from the course expectations.

Examples – Some modified expectations

  • “[The student] will demonstrate achievement of all of the science expectations relating to the topic Chemistry: Chemical Reactions and Their Practical Applications, as given in the curriculum document, with the following changes:
    • formulate scientific questions about observed relationships, ideas, problems, and/or issues to provide focus for inquiries or research [the Grade 10 applied science expectation requires students to 'formulate scientific questions' and to 'make predictions and/or formulate hypotheses']
    • write word equations for simple chemical reactions [the Grade 10 applied science expectation requires students to write 'word equations' and 'balanced chemical equations']

    (Science, Grade 10, Applied (SNC2P) – Modified expectations)”

  • “[The student] will complete all of the curriculum expectations in the course Canadian History Since World War I (Strand C: 1929–1945), as given in the curriculum document, with the following changes:
    • describe some key social changes in Canada during this period and explain their impact on different groups [the Grade 10 applied history expectation requires students to 'identify' rather than 'describe' some key social changes, and to 'explain the main cause of each social change' rather than 'explain their impact on different groups']
    • describe the responses of Canada and Canadians to some major international events that occurred during this period [the Grade 10 applied history expectation requires students to describe the responses of Canada and Canadians to some major international events, 'including their military response to World War II', and to 'explain the significance of these responses for Canadian identity and/or heritage']

    (Canadian History Since World War I, Grade 10, Applied (CHC2P) – Modified expectations)”

The examples listed above illustrate modifications that do not have a significant impact on the overall expectations for the course. In such cases, the principal would likely maintain the credit–bearing status of the course, provided that the student successfully demonstrated the knowledge and skills identified in the balance of (unmodified) specific expectations listed in the curriculum as well.

When modifications are so extensive that achievement of the learning expectations is not likely to result in a credit, the expectations should specify the precise requirements or tasks on which the student's performance will be evaluated and which will be used to generate the course mark recorded on the Provincial Report Card.

Examples – Significantly modified expectations

  • “In science, [the student] will:
    • conduct and observe some inquiries related to simple chemical reactions [the Grade 10 applied science expectation requires students to conduct and observe these inquiries and to 'represent their findings using a variety of formats'];
    • demonstrate the use of the pH scale (pH paper) to determine the acidity or alkalinity of some common household substances [the Grade 10 science expectation requires students to conduct this inquiry and 'to classify some common substances as acidic, basic, or neutral'];

    (Science, Grade 10, Applied (SNC2P) – Modified expectations)”

  • “In Canadian History Since World War I (Strand E: 1982 to the present), [the student] will:
    • explain ways in which a few individuals, organizations, and/or events have contributed to the arts and popular culture in Canada since 1982 [the Grade 10 applied history expectation requires students to 'relate' these individuals, organizations, and/or events to 'cultural identity, including multiculturalism, in Canada' rather than to 'explain' how they have contributed];
    • describe a few key developments that have affected Canada's relationship with the United States since 1982 [the Grade 10 applied history expectation requires students to describe 'some significant issues and/or developments' rather than 'a few key developments', and to 'explain the impact of the changes'];
    • describe some social and cultural trends and developments in Canada since 1982 [the Grade 10 applied history expectation requires students to 'assess the significance of' these trends rather than 'describe' them, and to 'assess' their impact on the 'lives of different people'].

    (Canadian History Since World War I, Grade 10, Applied (CHC2P) – Modified expectations)”

The above lists of expectations represent all of the student's learning expectations for these courses for one reporting period. As the lists do not encompass the overall expectations and represent only a small subsection of the regular expectations for the courses, a principal would not, under most circumstances, grant a credit for them.

Learning Expectations – Students with Alternative Programs
Alternative learning expectations should clearly describe specific skills that the student can demonstrate independently, given the provision of appropriate assessment accommodations.

Examples – Elementary

  • “In social skills, [the student] will demonstrate, through role playing, the 'Stop, Think, Do' technique and employ it or a similar technique some of the time.”
  • “In personal care, [the student] will retrieve and open his lunch bag and arrange his food independently, with a maximum of three verbal prompts.”

Examples – Secondary

  • “In language and communication, [the student] will independently and accurately retrieve, record, and leave short voice messages in a variety of situations. (KEN, Language and Communication)”
  • “In orientation and mobility training, [the student] will move independently from the classroom to the school office during high–traffic times.”

Additional examples of learning expectations in sample IEPs can be found on the website of EduGAINS.

5. Special Education Strategies, Resources, and Other Accommodations

Special education strategies, resources, and other accommodations support the student in achieving the annual goals and learning expectations identified in the IEP. Both students who are working on regular grade-level expectations and students who are working on modified or alternative expectations may require accommodations and specialized supports and services. The specific strategies, human resources, and individualized equipment required to facilitate the student's learning must be identified in the IEP. Descriptions and examples of each type of support are given under the corresponding headings below (see sections 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3).

In its statement of decision, the IPRC may have made recommendations for the special education services needed to facilitate the student's learning. When determining the strategies, resources, and other accommodations to be provided to the student and listed in the IEP, the educators contributing to the development of the plan must take into account the recommendations regarding special education programs and services made by the IPRC in its statement of decision.

In addition, PPM No. 140 requires that, where appropriate, relevant applied behaviour analysis (ABA) methods be incorporated into the IEPs of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Relevant ABA methods can support students with ASD in a number of ways. For example ABA methods can help a student to develop positive behaviours, learn new skills, and transfer a positive behaviour or response from one situation to another. ABA methods can also be used to limit the conditions under which problematic behaviours occur.

If the student requires the same types of accommodations in all subjects, courses, and skill areas, the information may be grouped in the IEP in a separate accommodations section. Alternatively, if the student's needs relate to particular modified or alternative subjects, courses, or skill areas, the information relevant to each may be included under the appropriate program area headings.

5.1 Individualized Teaching Strategies and Other Accommodations
Individualized instructional and assessment strategies are necessary to support students effectively in achieving their learning expectations and in demonstrating their learning. Effective instructional strategies are tailored to the student's readiness to learn and to the student's strengths and needs, learning style, and interests.

A list of the individualized strategies used with the student, along with any adjustments to the physical environment that are required, should be recorded in the accommodations section of the IEP template (see Appendix E–2).

Examples of the individualized instructional strategies that may be identified in the IEP include the following:

  • using special resources such as reading material that is consistent with the student's reading level and learning style, and audio–visual/technical tools that give learning experiences greater breadth and depth
  • using learning resources that provide direct experiences of seeing and touching (i.e., tactile materials)
  • providing enrichment units, additional readings, and other opportunities (e.g., problems to solve) that extend learning
  • providing mnemonic devices to support the student's recall of information
  • conferring with the student to assist with the organization of a project
  • providing organizers of reading content in advance of reading a text
  • simplifying the language of instruction
  • providing opportunities for performance in areas of special talent
  • having the student work on a team with peers whose strengths and/or interests are complementary to those of the student
  • developing an independent study plan for the student
  • involving an older student as a tutor

As these examples show, effective individualized instructional strategies often draw on principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), differentiated instruction, and the tiered approach.7

Examples of individualized assessment strategies that may be identified in the IEP include the following:

  • administering tests individually or in small groups
  • providing a quiet environment in which assessment may take place
  • allowing extra time for students to write tests or complete assignments
  • permitting oral responses to test questions
  • providing for the use of scribes
  • simplifying the language of instructions and questions used in tests

Recording Instructional, Environmental, and Assessment Accommodations in the IEP
Accommodations described in the IEP should include only those strategies and supports that differ from the ones that are regularly provided during classroom instruction. All accommodations documented in the IEP must be made readily available to the student. These accommodations must also be available to the student during provincial assessments (see section 7), and must be consistent with the accommodations permitted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office [EQAO]).

A student who requires accommodations may need the same accommodations in all subjects or courses, or only in some. The student may need only accommodations in some courses and both accommodations and modified or alternative expectations in others.

The accommodations that the student requires in connection with instruction, assessment, and functioning in the physical environment should be categorized as follows:

  • Instructional accommodations: Adjustments in teaching strategies required to enable the student to learn and to progress through the curriculum
  • Environmental accommodations: Changes or supports in the physical environment of the classroom and/or the school
  • Assessment accommodations: Adjustments in assessment activities and methods required to enable the student to demonstrate learning

It is important to make the above distinctions, and to record all necessary accommodations accurately in the IEP, for clarity for all staff involved in the student's education and also to ensure that students will be eligible to receive the permitted accommodations during provincial assessments.

A summary of examples of accommodations are listed in the chart below. In addition to established accommodations, new strategies and assistive devices are constantly emerging as teaching practice is enhanced through new research findings and technological innovations.

Examples of Accommodations

Instructional Accommodations
  • Buddy/peer tutoring
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Duplicated notes
  • Contracts
  • Scaffolding learning
  • Clustering learning
  • Descriptive feedback from peers
  • Reinforcement incentives
  • Highly structured approach
  • Partnering
  • Ability grouping
  • Augmentative and alternative communications systems
  • Assistive technology, such as text–to–speech software
  • Video recordings of lessons for intensive review at a later time
  • Graphic organizers
  • Non–verbal signals
  • Organizational coaching
  • Pictorial schedules to assist in making transitions
  • Time-management aids
  • Mind maps
  • More frequent breaks
  • Concrete/hands-on materials
  • Manipulatives
  • Tactile tracing strategies
  • Gesture cues
  • Dramatizing information
  • Visual cueing
  • Large-size font
  • Tracking sheets
  • Colour cues
  • Reduced/uncluttered format
  • Computer options
  • Spatially cued formats
  • Repetition of information
  • Rewording/rephrasing of information
  • Extra time for processing
  • Word-retrieval prompts
  • Taped texts
Environmental Accommodations
  • Alternative work space
  • Strategic seating
  • Proximity to instructor
  • Reduction of audio/visual stimuli
  • Study carrel
  • Minimizing of background noise
  • Quiet setting
  • Use of headphones
  • Special lighting
  • Assistive devices or adaptive equipment
Assessment Accommodations
  • Extended time limits
  • Verbatim scribing
  • Oral responses, including recorded responses (audio or video)
  • Alternative settings
  • More frequent breaks
  • Assistive devices or adaptive equipment
  • Prompts to return student's attention to task
  • Chunking of assessment tasks over time
  • Allowing choice as a demonstration of learning
  • Augmentative and alternative communications systems
  • Assistive technology, such as speech-to-text software
  • Large-size font
  • Colour cues
  • Reduced/uncluttered format
  • Computer options
  • Extra time for processing
  • Reduction in the number of tasks used to assess a concept or skill

5.2 Human Resources
Specific human resources required to facilitate the student's learning must be identified in the IEP. The IEP should contain a record of direct instruction and/or consultation to be provided by special education teachers, as well as support services to be provided by non-teaching support staff.

The IEP of a student for whom a Special Incidence Portion (SIP) claim has been made to the ministry should include a record of the board-paid staff reflected in the claim.8

Teaching Staff
Special education teachers provide direct instruction in a regular class, in a resource-withdrawal classroom, or, where required, in a special education class. Special education teachers also provide consultation services for regular classroom teachers and the Kindergarten team, as well as other school and board staff (e.g., career and guidance teachers or psychologists) to assist them in developing programs and learning environments that are appropriate for the child or student.

It is not necessary to list the regular classroom teacher in the human resources section of an IEP.

Non-teaching Support Staff
Professional and/or paraprofessional9 special education support staff provide developmental, corrective, and other support services as may be required to meet the needs of the student. Non–teaching support staff may include, but are not limited to, the following: educational assistants, speech pathologists, audiologists, psychologists, autism program providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, child and youth workers, social workers, Indigenous support workers, and medical professionals.

Recording Human Resource Services in the IEP
For human resources identified in the IEP, the following information must be recorded:

  • the type of service provided
  • the date on which the service was initiated
  • the planned frequency or intensity of the service
  • the location in which the service is provided (i.e., regular classroom, resource-withdrawal classroom, or special education classroom)

Examples

  • Youth counsellor, 30 minutes, one day a week, conference room;
  • Special education teacher, 40 minutes, 4 to 5 days a week, resource room;
  • Educational assistant, 30 minutes, daily, playground;
  • Educational assistant, 300 minutes daily of support shared with other students, classroom;
  • Educational assistant, approximately 1 hour per day for personal care, in a variety of settings, as required;
  • Special education teacher, consultation with classroom teacher(s), minimum once per term.

The types of support services provided by non–board staff should be noted on the IEP, but the recording of specific information, such as frequency and intensity, is not required. (Service plans for non–board staff are drawn up separately and are not included in the IEP.)

5.3 Individualized Equipment
This category includes any type or item of equipment or any electronic product or system commercially produced, modified, or custom-made to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.10 Examples of individualized equipment include the following:

  • speech analysers
  • FM systems
  • print enlargers for students with poor vision
  • amplification systems
  • computer hardware and software
  • individually modified desks or work tables
  • adjustable desks or computer tables
  • Braille writers
  • symbol or letter voice translators
  • insulated booth and study carrels
  • communication aids, such as speech synthesizers
  • positioning devices for sitting, standing, and lying down
  • other assistive devices or adaptive equipment

Individualized equipment is intended to maintain, increase, or improve the student's ability to learn and demonstrate learning. (The equipment identified in the IEP should not be limited to the equipment for which boards receive additional funding.)

6. Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting

6.1 Assessment of Student Learning
The student's progress towards achievement of the curriculum expectations and/or the learning expectations and annual goals identified in the IEP should be monitored and assessed continuously, using the processes of assessment for learning and assessment as learning. (See the Assessing Student Learning section in Part C, for more information on the integrated process of assessment and instruction and on the various types of assessment.) As discussed in section 5.1, above, assessment strategies must be adjusted to suit the student's particular strengths, areas in need of improvement, and needs. This ensures that the student is learning, knows the next steps in his or her learning, and can demonstrate learning and achievement in his or her preferred learning style. The IEP must describe the methods by which the student's achievement of the learning expectations will be assessed, including any accommodations to regular classroom assessment procedures that may be required. (See the discussion in section 5.1 for examples of assessment accommodations.)

In order for assessment and evaluation to be valid and reliable, educators must identify clear learning goals, and the criteria that describe successful demonstration of the knowledge and skills embedded in the learning goals. To be fair, transparent, and equitable, assessment must be based on the learning goals and the success criteria that are shared with and understood by the student.

6.2 Evaluation and Reporting of Student Achievement
The evaluation of student learning and reporting on the progress and achievement of students with special education needs must be consistent with the policy outlined in Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools (2010). The relevant chapters are Chapter 5, “Evaluation”; Chapter 6, “Reporting Student Achievement”; and Chapter 7, “Students with Special Education Needs: Modifications, Accommodations, and Alternative Programs”.

In all evaluations of student learning, it is important that the student demonstrate learning independently, with the provision of appropriate assessment accommodations.

The student's progress towards achievement of the curriculum expectations and/or the learning expectations and annual goals identified in the IEP is assessed continually, but must be evaluated at least once in every reporting period in which a Provincial Report Card is issued.

The IEP must indicate:

  • the dates on which evaluations are completed;
  • the format used for reporting student progress to parents (the Provincial Report Card or an alternative report).

Alternative programs and courses: In most cases, it is neither required nor advisable to assign letter grades or percentage marks to represent the student's achievement of alternative expectations. Student progress should be reported to parents by means of anecdotal comments on an alternative report. This alternative report should accompany the report card at the regular reporting times. (Some school boards include a section for reporting on the achievement of alternative expectations in the IEP itself.) The student's progress in subjects or courses in which the student has modified expectations and/or accommodations must still be reported on the report card at the regular reporting periods. A very small number of students who are unable to demonstrate the most basic literacy or numeracy skills may receive only an alternative report.

7. Provincial Assessments

7.1 Accommodations for Participation in Provincial Assessments
Students who have an IEP must be given the opportunity to participate and demonstrate the full extent of their knowledge and skills in provincial assessments, and school boards are required to provide accommodations to facilitate their participation. Accommodations must not affect the level or content of the assessment, the performance criteria, or the reliability or validity of the assessment. They must also comply with other related policies of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) and the Ministry of Education.

Any testing accommodations recommended to facilitate the student's participation in provincial assessments must already be identified in the IEP as accommodations required in the classroom. These accommodations must be:

  • appropriate to the student's particular needs, as identified in the IEP;
  • included among the strategies, resources, and other accommodations identified in the IEP as necessary for facilitating the student's learning and demonstration of achievement in regular classroom assessments;
  • described in specific rather than general terms (e.g., “use of a word processor” rather than “answers recorded in another manner”).

It is helpful to parents if the IEP indicates whether the student is scheduled to participate in a provincial assessment during the current school year.11

Information on permitted accommodations from province-wide assessments can be found in the guides that EQAO publishes annually. When describing accommodations for provincial assessments in the IEP, it is advisable to use wordings that are consistent with the wordings used in these EQAO documents. It is inappropriate, however, to develop an IEP solely for provincial assessments. EQAO documents are available on the EQAO website.

7.2 Exemptions from Provincial Assessments
In a small number of cases, a student may require an exemption from provincial assessment. An exemption may be considered if, even given the full range of permitted accommodations, the student would not be able to provide evidence of learning under the circumstances of the assessment. If it is determined that the student will not participate in a particular provincial assessment, the IEP must include documentation to support an exemption. For secondary students, there must be clear indication that a student is not working towards an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The final decision must be communicated in writing to the parent, or student if 16 years of age or older, as part of the IEP development process. (See Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Program Requirements (2016), Appendix 3, for details of the policy on exemptions from provincial assessments.)

As with permitted accommodations discussed above, information on permitted exemptions from province–wide assessments can be found in the guides that EQAO publishes annually. When describing exemptions from provincial assessments in the IEP, it is advisable to use wordings that are consistent with the wordings used in these EQAO documents, which can be found on the EQAO website.

8. Transition Plans

The transition plan is a detailed and coordinated plan designed to assist the student in making successful educational transitions.

The regulatory and policy requirements concerning the transition plan are set out at the beginning of this part of the guide, in the section entitled Requirements under Ontario Regulation 181/98 and Policy/Program Memoranda Nos. 140 and 156. As stated there, with PPM No. 156, “Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs”, the requirement for transition planning is extended to all students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, who have an IEP, and this policy applies to all the key transitions that students make in the course of their education. (Detailed information on the key transitions can be found in the Transition Planning section of Part C of this guide.) In some cases, the student may have no particular need of support during transitions; in those cases, the transition plan should state that no actions are required. At the discretion of the board, a transition plan may also be developed for students who receive special education programs and/or services but do not have an IEP and have not been identified as exceptional.

The specific requirements of PPM No. 156 concerning the development of the transition plan as part of the IEP are consistent with requirements that schools and school boards have been meeting since 1998 with respect to the secondary–to–postsecondary transition plan required under O. Reg. 181/98. As with O. Reg. 181/98, the school principal is responsible for ensuring the coordination and development of the transition plan, but not for all the assigned tasks within it.

All transition plans must be:

  • developed as part of the student's IEP;
  • developed in consultation with the parent(s), the student (as appropriate), the postsecondary institution (where appropriate), and relevant community agencies and/or partners, as necessary;
  • reviewed as part of the review of the IEP, and the results of each review should be used to update the transition plan;
  • stored in the Ontario Student Record (OSR) documentation folder.

Components of a Transition Plan
Transition plans must be part of the student's IEP, and must include the following elements, first outlined in the Ministry of Education's policy document Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000) and later reiterated more broadly in PPM No. 156:

  • specific goals for the student's transition
  • the strategies to be used and the actions required, now and in the future, to achieve the stated goals
  • the person or agency responsible for or involved in completing or providing assistance in the completion of each of the identified actions
  • timelines for the implementation of each of the identified actions

The Student's Transition Goals
Transition goals will vary depending on the student's needs. For example, for a student making the transition to postsecondary activities, the goals will pertain to employment, further education, and/or community living. However, for a student who requires support when making the transition between various activities and settings, the goals will be different. They will pertain to improving behaviour or skills in certain situations.

The transition goals for all students must be realistic and should reflect the strengths, needs, and interests of the student. The goals should also be consistent with what the students have documented and shared with educators and their parents in their Individual Pathway Plans (IPPs) (in Grades 7 through 12) or may have documented and shared in their All About Me portfolios (in Kindergarten to Grade 6).

Where possible, students should assume responsibility for identifying their transition goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

For the student making the transition to postsecondary activities, the goals should strike a balance among the following considerations:

  • the student's ideal vision of the future
  • the limitations and/or barriers (actual and potential) to the student's realizing this ideal vision
  • the extent to which these limitations and/or barriers may be overcome by actions or supports such as appropriate health care and social services, help from family and friends, and accommodations from employers and further–education institutions, as well as by the student's own efforts

For this student, the considerations are long–term. The transition goals for others, however, may involve more short–term considerations that will lead to increased opportunities at school and in the community. For example, they may involve mastering certain skills, such as language skills, social skills, and motor skills.

The Strategies and Actions Necessary for Achieving the Goals
At the heart of the transition plan is the description of the actions that are required to enable the student to achieve his or her goals. The strategies and actions should build on the student's identified strengths, needs, and interests. For example, for students diagnosed with autism, the relevant applied behaviour analysis (ABA) methods should be listed.

In preparation for defining the appropriate actions, it may be helpful to identify the barriers to the achievement of the student's goals. It may also be helpful to identify the major steps required for the student to achieve his or her goals and then to define specific actions associated with each of the steps.

Each action should be described in clear, unambiguous language so that it will be easy to determine whether and when the action has been undertaken and completed.

The list of actions identified for the current year should include anything that must be done to enable the student to continue to progress towards his or her goals.

If possible, anticipated actions for future years should also be identified, in order to:

  • clarify the student's progression towards his or her goals;
  • test the appropriateness of the planned steps and actions as ways to help the student achieve the goals;
  • alert team members to future responsibilities.

The actions in the transition plan should not limit the student's opportunities to achieve the learning expectations of the Ontario curriculum and to accumulate credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Some students with special education needs will require more time than other students to achieve the maximum possible learning within the curriculum and also attain their transition plan goals.

The Person or Agency Responsible for Completing Each Action
The transition plan should indicate who is responsible for completing, or providing assistance in completing, a given action. The person or agency responsible might include the following: the student, parents, educators, providers of specialized support and services, and/or community agencies. Consent should be obtained from those individuals or organizations named as responsible parties.

All persons or agencies who are responsible for one or more actions in the transition plan should:

  • be aware of and understand the nature of their responsibility;
  • believe that it will be possible to complete the indicated action(s) within the specified time frame;
  • advise the individual who is the lead for transitions if circumstances change and they come to believe that they will not be able to complete the indicated action(s).

Timelines for Each Action
Each action identified on the plan should have a clear timeline or completion date. Planning for transitions should begin early to ensure that each student can make as smooth a transition as possible. Some actions may list timelines that extend into the next school year.

For example, contact with postsecondary institutions a year in advance of a student's transition may help to ensure access for the student to program opportunities and allow time for the institution or department to arrange supports needed by the student with special education needs. As the date of transition approaches, the special education office of the college or university can assist by providing the student and educators supporting the student with information on the accommodations that are available. Once a student is admitted, it is the responsibility of the special education office of that institution to assist the student in obtaining accommodations appropriate to the student's special education needs.

For examples of all the components of a transition plan – specific goals, actions required, person(s) responsible for actions, and timelines – see the transition plans included in the IEP samples that can be found on the Special Education domain of the EduGAINS website.

9. Parent/Student Consultation

Regulation 181/98 requires the principal to ensure that the parents and the student, if the student is 16 years of age or older, are consulted in the development and review of the student's IEP, and that a copy of the IEP is provided to the parents and the student on its completion.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 6(2))

A form documenting consultations with a parent and the student (if 16 or older) must be prepared and attached to the student's IEP. (The sample IEP template in Appendix E-2 has a section called “Log of Parent/Student Consultation” for this purpose.) The parent/student consultation form must contain the following information:

  • the date of each consultation
  • the outcome of each consultation

The parent and the student (if 16 or older) must be asked to sign the form and to indicate whether:

  • they were consulted in the development of the IEP;
  • they declined the opportunity to be consulted;
  • they have received a copy of the IEP;
  • any comments they provided are noted on the form.

This form should be reserved for information about parent-student-school interactions relating to the student's IEP, and should not be used to record interactions about other matters.

The Role of the Student and Parents in the Development of the IEP
Students and parents play an invaluable role in the development of the IEP. Open communication and cooperation between home and school will help ensure that both the parents and school staff have similar expectations with respect to the student's special education program and services.

It is expected (and required, if the student is 16 years of age or older) that secondary students will be given the opportunity to provide input in the development of the IEP. However, any student for whom an IEP is being developed should be consulted to the degree possible. In the information–gathering phase, students should be encouraged to share their perceptions of their learning strengths and needs, their learning styles, and their interests. This information may be gathered through interviews, discussions, and interest inventories. It may also be collected when students share information they have documented in their All About Me portfolios (in Kindergarten to Grade 6) or Individual Pathways Plans (in Grades 7 through 12).

The nature and extent of a student's involvement in the IEP process will vary. However, members of the in–school team should ensure that students understand, to the extent possible, the purpose of their IEP and how the goals and expectations in the plan are individually tailored, evaluated, reviewed, and updated. It is important for students to be aware that their achievement of the learning expectations will be reflected in their Provincial Report Card. Students need to understand that they can participate in the IEP process and that it is important for them to take an active role in their learning.

The student, to the extent possible:

  • helps educators identify his or her learning styles, preferences, strengths, and needs;
  • understands what accommodations are to be provided (e.g., individualized teaching and assessment strategies, human support, individualized equipment);
  • assists in setting annual program goals and learning expectations;
  • demonstrates an understanding of the IEP and works actively to achieve the goals and expectations contained therein;
  • participates in monitoring progress towards goals and maintains awareness of how grades and/or marks will be generated for the Provincial Report Card;
  • considers the information in his or her All About Me portfolio or Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) when developing the IEP.

Parents:

  • provide up–to–date information about their child as it relates to the child's learning (e.g., recent assessment reports);
  • provide important information that will assist in the development and implementation of their child's educational program (e.g., the talents and skills their child demonstrates in the home and community; their child's likes, dislikes, learning styles/preferences, interests, and reactions to various situations);
  • reinforce and extend the efforts of the educators by providing opportuni­ties for their child to practise and maintain skills in the home;
  • provide feedback on the child's transfer of skills from school to the home and to community settings;
  • maintain open communication with the school.

Ways of Supporting Parental and Student Involvement
In addition to the responsibilities outlined above, parents play an important role in the IEP process by communicating to the in-school team a picture of their child's life thus far, suggesting ways to avoid potential problems, and helping the in–school team achieve continuity of programming for the student.

Principals and teachers can support parental and student involvement by:

  • communicating openly and regularly with parents and students in clear, plain language (i.e., language that is free of jargon);
  • giving parents and students the opportunity to specify how, and to what degree, they wish to become involved in consultation during the development of the IEP;
  • contacting parents by telephone as well as in writing to notify them about meetings of the in-school team regarding the development of the IEP;
  • informing parents and students about the topics that will be discussed at the IEP meeting and about who will attend;
  • ensuring that parents and students are given the opportunity to provide meaningful input on the development of the IEP;
  • checking regularly with parents and students to share effective strategies and gather feedback;
  • checking regularly for possible parental or student concerns or confusion (by asking questions, if necessary);
  • clarifying information as necessary to ensure that parents and the student understand the IEP and the IEP process, as well as related matters, such as the connection between the IEP and the Provincial Report Card.

10. Staff Involvement in Developing the IEP

The school principal is responsible for ensuring that the IEP is developed collaboratively by school and board staff members and others who are familiar with the student. These individuals possess the knowledge and qualifications necessary to develop the most effective plan possible for the student. For more information on this collaborative process, see the section below entitled Establishing a Collaborative Approach for Developing and Implementing the IEP.

Although the IEP is developed collaboratively, the principal is ultimately responsible for each student's plan. The principal must sign the IEP to indicate his or her assurance that the plan is appropriate to the student's strengths and needs and that it meets all of the standards outlined in this document.

Each member of the team involved in the development of the IEP must be identified in the IEP. The principal must ensure that, collectively, the educators involved in the development of the IEP:

  • have knowledge of the student;
  • have knowledge of the Ontario curriculum;
  • are qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, special education programs and services to meet the needs of the exceptional student and other students who are receiving special education programs and/or services and who have an IEP;
  • have knowledge of the special education strategies and resources available in the district school board.

In elementary schools, the principal or vice–principal is expected to coordinate and oversee the work of the in–school team, which may include the special education teacher, the classroom teacher(s), and support staff, in developing, monitoring, and reviewing each student's IEP.

Because of the size and organizational structure of secondary schools, the principal may designate a vice–principal or a staff member to act on her or his behalf in coordinating and overseeing the development of the IEP.

Since the transition plan is part of the student's IEP, the teacher assigned responsibility for the IEP may also be responsible for the transition plan. In special circumstances, or for students with high or complex needs, the principal or another teacher may be assigned this role.

It should be noted that PPM No. 140 specifically requires the principal to ensure that relevant school board and community personnel who have previously worked and/or are currently working with a student with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are invited to provide input and participate in the IEP process.

Establishing a Collaborative Approach for Developing and Implementing the IEP
It is important that the IEP be developed collaboratively. Part C describes some of the functions of in–school teams and some approaches to developing them (see the In–School Team and Out–of–School Resources section in that part of the guide).

The needs of the individual student determine who will be involved in the IEP's development, implementation, and monitoring. The student, the student's parents, the student's teachers, the guidance teacher/counsellor, the principal, special education staff and support personnel, and staff from community agencies, as appropriate, may have a role. As noted earlier, regardless of who is coordinating and participating in the IEP process, decisions related to the program-planning sections of an IEP should be made by the individual who teaches the student and prepares the student's report card – usually the classroom teacher.

A team approach enables all those who are responsible for and interested in meeting the student's needs to:

  • share information and observations about the student's behaviour and learning in a variety of settings;
  • develop a common understanding of the student's strengths and needs as they affect the student's ability to learn and demonstrate learning, and the student's educational goals;
  • discuss accommodations that can help the student learn and demonstrate learning;
  • select and make recommendations about the purchase of individualized equipment, if applicable;
  • discuss the type and level of support required from support services personnel;
  • plan and outline how the student's learning will be assessed and evaluated so that the connection between the IEP and the report card will be readily apparent to both the student and the parents.

All team members have important roles and responsibilities in the development, implementation, and monitoring of an IEP, and are expected to cooperate in the IEP process. Appendix E–4 outlines roles and responsibilities associated with all aspects of an IEP; however, responsibilities and tasks will vary depending on the circumstances of the individual student and some may not be applicable in all situations.

The following people may also be consulted, to provide information that is relevant to the student's educational programming:

  • school administrators
  • guidance teachers/counsellors
  • speech-language pathologists
  • the student's previous teacher(s), previous principal(s), and/or previous service provider(s)
  • educational assistants
  • early childhood educators
  • resource teachers
  • cooperative education teachers
  • educational consultants
  • occupational therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • Indigenous support workers
  • autism program providers
  • other medical professionals
  • child and youth workers
  • social workers
  • psychologists and psycho-educational consultants
  • Provincial School or Demonstration School personnel
  • service providers from appropriate community agencies (e.g., Friendship Centres or other Indigenous partners/organizations)

11. Information Sources

The quality and effectiveness of an IEP will depend in large part on the gathering and use of relevant information from a variety of sources, and on the sharing of that information with all who are involved in the preparation and implementation of the plan.

The school principal must ensure that the student's IEP is developed on the basis of information obtained from a variety of appropriate sources. Under Regulation 181/98, in developing the IEP, the principal must take into account any recommendations regarding special education programs and services made by the IPRC. Other sources of information that should be reviewed include:

  • the student's Ontario Student Record (OSR), including previous report cards and the previous IEP (when applicable);
  • classroom observation;
  • the student's current work;
  • information provided by the student; the parents; school and board staff who have previous experience working with the student, and other professionals and paraprofessionals, including information provided in various types of assessment reports and through diagnostic tests (to be used only with parental permission and as permitted under freedom of information legislation);
  • results of further assessments, if needed, undertaken in consultation with parents.

Information used in the development and updating of the IEP should be shared with the student (if 16 or older) and the student's parents, and with members of the in–school team, to enable them to develop a comprehensive view of the student's learning profile and programming and service needs.

In addition to the sources of information listed above, the in-school team might find it helpful to review the student's results in provincial assessments. Information may also be gathered when students share information they have documented in their Individual Pathways Plans (IPPs) (in Grades 7 through 12) or the information they may have documented and shared in their All About Me portfolios (in Kindergarten to Grade 6).

For detailed descriptions of multiple sources of assessment information – including educational, speech and language, health, and psychological – see the Assessing Student Learning section in Part C.

Information Gathered through Observation
Educators who work directly with the student can supplement the information gathered from written sources and from various consultations with information obtained through direct observation.

Once information from all sources has been gathered, it is reviewed to determine if it is sufficient to enable the team to plan and implement educational programming for the student.

If the information is insufficient, further individual assessments will need to be conducted. Note that educational assessments, especially grade–equivalent achievement scores, must be very current to be useful in the development of an IEP, so it may be necessary to conduct new educational assessments.

Other types of assessments, discussed in greater detail in Part C, may require written parental consent. It is important to help parents understand what each assessment entails – that is, the process their child will go through – as well as the benefits of conducting the assessment and its possible outcomes. Such information will ensure that parents can make an informed decision about whether to consent to an assessment. (See the box below for information on privacy requirements that may be applicable to the information generated by students' assessments.)

When collecting, using, or releasing personal information about a student, the principal must ensure that the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (in the case of Provincial Schools), the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (in the case of school boards), and any other applicable legislation, as well as the requirements regarding access to student information outlined in The Ontario Student Record (OSR) Guideline (2000), have been met.

Principals and teachers should consult with their board's freedom–of–information coordinators about the steps required to obtain access to personal information about the student that is not contained in the student's Ontario Student Record (e.g., from other professionals who work with the student) and about providing information contained in the student's OSR to other professionals.

The information gathered from the various sources consulted needs to be consolidated and analysed to provide a detailed picture of the student's areas of strength and need, and to identify any consistent patterns of successful learning. Assessment data may be checked against information gathered from other sources to determine whether the other information supports the patterns revealed by the assessments. Discrepancies in information from different sources should be investigated and taken into consideration, as appropriate, in preparing the IEP.

12. Date of Completion of the IEP

Under Regulation 181/98, an IEP must be developed within 30 school days of the exceptional student's placement in a special education program. “Placement” will be taken to mean one of the following:

  • the first day of a student's attendance in the new special education program specified in the IPRC's statement of decision
  • the first day of the new school year or semester in which the student is continuing in a placement subsequent to its confirmation by the annual IPRC review
  • the first day of the student's enrolment in a special education program that the student begins in mid–year or mid-semester as a result of a change of placement

The 30–day period must be calculated from the first day of the student's placement in a special education program, as defined above.

The 30–day period for completion of an IEP applies to the IEPs of all students, including those who have not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC but who receive a special education program and/or services.

Both the date on which the student begins his or her placement in a special education program and the date on which the IEP is completed must be recorded in the IEP.

13. Implementation and Monitoring

The effectiveness of the student's IEP, including the transition plan, can be assured only with proper implementation and monitoring. Proper implementation and monitoring depend on appropriate sharing of information among those involved with the student and on regular evaluation of the student's achievement and progress towards meeting the goals and expectations set out in the IEP.

The principal must first ensure that the staff member assigned to coordinate the development and implementation of the IEP has:

  • reviewed the IEP with the principal;
  • met with the student's classroom teachers, special education teacher, guidance teacher/counsellor, and support staff, as appropriate, to discuss implementation of the activities described in the IEP and the responsibilities associated with each of those activities;
  • informed classroom teachers, parents, and the student who is 16 years of age or older of the modified or alternative learning expectations in the student's program and of the special education strategies and resources required to facilitate the student's learning, as set out in the IEP (classroom teachers of subjects and courses to which the IEP applies must be made aware of the IEP as it relates to the student's instruction in the subject areas for which they are responsible);
  • discussed with the student's classroom teachers the importance of parental involvement in support of the plan;
  • established a plan, including a timetable, for evaluating and monitoring the student's progress towards achieving his or her learning expectations;
  • shared information about the monitoring plan with parents and the student (if 16 or older) and with school and support staff.

Once the IEP is developed, the staff member assigned to coordinate the development and implementation of the IEP (see section 10) should ensure that everyone involved in providing programs and services for the student is aware of the IEP's contents. The in–school team should:

  • review various individuals' responsibilities for implementing and monitoring the plan; and
  • ensure that all staff members directly responsible for instruction, as well as the parents and the student (if 16 or older), have a copy of the IEP.

The classroom teacher and support personnel are directly responsible for implementing the program and services outlined in a student's IEP. Their responsibilities are outlined below.

The Role of Classroom Teachers
Classroom teachers need to become familiar with the instructional, environmental, and assessment accommodations that are recorded in the student's IEP. Some accommodations, such as providing a quiet work space or having a scribe record the student's verbatim responses, require advance planning on the part of the teacher.

The teacher must make all the strategies and other accommodations listed in the IEP available to the student, but is not restricted to using only those that are listed. As the relationship between the teacher and the student develops, the teacher should explore a variety of strategies that could enhance the student's ability to learn, and make note of successful strategies in the student's IEP. However, adjustments to the assessment accommodations listed in the IEP should be made only after checking that they conform to the accommodations permitted by the EQAO, so that if the student finds them helpful the student will also be able to benefit from them during provincial assessments.

The classroom teacher must carefully monitor the student's learning in order to detect ineffective instructional strategies or other accommodations and replace them with strategies better suited to the student's learning needs.

When a classroom teacher is responsible for teaching a subject or course in which a student with an IEP is working towards achieving modified and/or alternative expectations, some additional planning is necessary. The teacher should consider incorporating a number of strategies (e.g., group instruction, peer coaching, buddy systems) that can help the student participate in many of the classroom activities.

Classroom teachers are encouraged to promote independence in students who have an IEP by structuring the location of and procedures relating to individualized tasks and assignments in such a way that students can practise skills and prepare performance tasks with a minimum of teacher assistance. At the same time, planning for direct instruction is essential and should focus on helping the student acquire the knowledge and skills recorded in the IEP before the student attempts to move on to additional learning.

The Role of Support Personnel
Many alternative programs – for example, in social skills, anger manage­ment, personal care, and orientation/mobility training – benefit from the involvement of support personnel. Support personnel may include educational assistants, who provide support to classroom teachers by assisting students with learning activities and providing appropriate accommodations as described in the IEP. Planning and providing individual timetables and location scheduling for educational assistants and other support staff is a necessary part of the implementation process.

14. Review and Updating

The results of regular evaluation and monitoring of the student's achievement and progress towards the goals identified in the IEP may reveal that adjustments are needed in the student's special education program. If the student is not meeting, or is exceeding, the expectations described in the IEP, the student's situation must be reviewed to determine the cause. If it is determined that the cause is related to the student's exceptionality, the IEP must be adjusted. Changes to the IEP may include:

  • adjusting the strategies and resources used in instruction, or the level of support the student receives;
  • developing new expectations, if learning is proceeding at a faster rate than had been anticipated by the plan;
  • breaking expectations down into smaller steps, if learning is proceeding at a slower rate than had been anticipated by the plan.

If revisions to the IEP result in significant changes in the student's learning expectations and/or in the level of special education accommodations and services to be provided, the parent(s) and the student (if 16 or older) must be consulted before the changes are implemented. Information about such consultations must be recorded on the parent/student consultation form (see section 9).

The date of all revisions to the IEP must be recorded in the IEP.

If the learning expectations for only the first reporting period were included when the IEP was developed, the teacher(s) responsible for teaching each subject or course that has modified expectations and for delivering each alternative program must record in the IEP the learning expectations that are to be assessed during the second reporting period. These new expectations must be communicated to the student and parents at the start of the second reporting period. The same process is repeated for the third reporting period in elementary and non-semestered secondary schools.

Recording Ongoing Revisions to the IEP
The IEP is a working document. Adjustments to annual program goals, learning expectations, instructional or assessment strategies, individualized equipment, levels of human support, or the transition plan should be noted in the IEP and shared with both the parent and the student. If certain strategies cease to be effective, it is imperative that the staff working with the student seek out and implement new instructional/assessment strategies and/or other accommodations.

Any changes to the learning expectations for a current reporting period should be made while there is still ample time for the student to prepare for the assessment tasks.

Store the IEP in the Documentation File of the Ontario Student Record
A student's IEP must be included in the student's Ontario Student Record (OSR). This requirement ensures that the student's relevant assessment data and information about the student's learning strengths and needs, annual program goals, and learning expectations, as well as the accommodations used to help the student learn, are immediately available to teachers new to working with the student.

To ensure that the IEP stored in the OSR is up to date, the working copy of the IEP should replace the filed copy at the end of each school year or semester, or when the student transfers to another school. This procedure will help to keep all partners informed about the most recent adjustments to the IEP and to ensure continuity in programming for the student.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, section 8)

Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding IEPs

Students, parents, and educators all play important roles in the planning and implementation of a student's special education program. When they work together in the development of the IEP, experience has shown that they share a common understanding that reduces potential future conflict. However, issues related to the planning and implementation of a student's special education program may become sources of disagreement. As well, poor relationships may develop for a variety of reasons, leading to conflict between parents and educators.

There are many ways of working through conflict, ranging from informal to formal methods. Informal conflict resolution, beginning with problem solving, is often the most effective approach and it enhances the ability of students, parents, and educators to arrive at mutually acceptable solutions. For more information on informal conflict prevention and resolution, see Shared Solutions: A Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students with Special Education Needs (2007).

Appendix E-1: Standards for Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

The following table is based on the IEP standards as set out in the policy document Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000).

Standard Purpose of the Standard
1. Reason for Developing an IEP To identify clearly for parents, school staff, and the Ministry of Education the reason for developing an IEP for the particular student
2. Student Profile To provide essential information about the student that was used to support the decision to provide the special education program and services
3. The Student's Strengths and Needs To identify the student's strengths and needs clearly, as the basis on which an appropriate special education program and services are developed
4. The Special Education Program
4.1 The Student's Current Level of Achievement To provide a starting point from which to measure the student's progress towards achieving the learning expectations and annual goals set out in the IEP
4.2 Annual Program Goals To inform the student, parents, and teachers of the goals towards which the student is progressing through the achievement of the learning expectations set out in the IEP
4.3 Learning Expectations To provide a focus for learning that is based on the student's strengths, needs, and current level of achievement and to clearly identify the knowledge and skills that the student is expected to acquire while working towards his or her annual goals in a particular subject, course, or skill area
5. Special Education Strategies, Accommodations, and Resources To ensure that teachers, parents, and the student clearly understand the range of strategies, accommodations, and resources that will be employed to facilitate the student's learning
6. Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting
6.1 Assessment Methods and Accommodations To ensure that an appropriate range of methods and strategies is used to give the student the opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of his or her achievement of the learning expectations
6.2 Evaluation and Reporting of Student Achievement To ensure regular evaluation and reporting of the student's achievement of the learning expectations
7. Provincial Assessments
7.1 Accommodations for Participation in Provincial Assessments To ensure that students who have an IEP are given the opportunity to participate and demonstrate the full extent of their knowledge and skills in provincial assessments
7.2 Exemptions from Provincial Assessments To ensure that any exemption from a provincial assessment is justified for the particular student
8. The Transition Plan* To ensure that the student is well prepared to meet postsecondary goals that are appropriate to the student's strengths, needs, and interests, and that the student receives the assistance necessary for making a smooth transition
9. Parent/Student Consultation To ensure that parents and the student, if the student is 16 years of age or older, are consulted in the development and review of the IEP, in accordance with Regulation 181/98
10. Staff Involvement in the Development of the IEP To ensure that the IEP is developed collaboratively and that the individuals involved in its development bring together the knowledge and experience that will best serve the needs of the student
11. Information Sources To ensure a sound and reliable basis for the development of every student's IEP through the use of a variety of appropriate sources of information about the student and his or her educational needs
12. Date of Completion of the IEP To ensure the timely preparation of the student's IEP, in accordance with Regulation 181/98
13. Implementation and Monitoring To ensure the effectiveness of the IEP through proper implementation and monitoring
14. Reviewing and Updating To ensure that the student's special education program and services remain effective and appropriate to the student's needs and strengths over time

* As noted earlier, in the section entitled Requirements under Ontario Regulation 181/98 and Policy/Program Memoranda Nos. 140 and 156, there are additional requirements for the transition plan related to the two PPMs.

Appendix E-2: A Sample IEP Template

This sample IEP template reflects the provincial standards for developing IEPs discussed in Part E of this guide. It contains sections on reason for developing the IEP, student profile, assessment data, student’s strengths and needs, and so on. This sample IEP template reflects the provincial standards for developing IEPs discussed in Part E of this guide. It contains sections on reason for developing the IEP, student profile, assessment data, student’s strengths and needs, and so on. This sample IEP template reflects the provincial standards for developing IEPs discussed in Part E of this guide. It contains sections on reason for developing the IEP, student profile, assessment data, student’s strengths and needs, and so on. This sample IEP template reflects the provincial standards for developing IEPs discussed in Part E of this guide. It contains sections on reason for developing the IEP, student profile, assessment data, student’s strengths and needs, and so on. This sample IEP template reflects the provincial standards for developing IEPs discussed in Part E of this guide. It contains sections on reason for developing the IEP, student profile, assessment data, student’s strengths and needs, and so on. This sample IEP template reflects the provincial standards for developing IEPs discussed in Part E of this guide. It contains sections on reason for developing the IEP, student profile, assessment data, student’s strengths and needs, and so on.

Appendix E-3: An IEP Checklist

The IEP must include the following items:

  • Reasons for developing the IEP
  • A profile of the student, including the student's name, date of birth, student number, current grade, exceptionality, and placement, as well as the name of the student's school and its principal and the date of the student's most recent IPRC.
  • Relevant assessment data
  • The student's strengths and needs
  • Specialized health support services required by the student
  • The subjects, courses, or alternative programs to which the IEP applies
  • Accommodations required by the student
  • Any accommodations for or exemptions from provincial assessments
  • The student's current level of achievement in every subject or course in which modified expectations are required and in every alternative program
  • Modified or alternative expectations for the reporting period
  • Teaching strategies and other accommodations tailored to the student's strengths, needs, learning style, and interests, to support learning and determine progress in achieving modified or alternative expectations
  • Human resources (both teaching and non-teaching) to be provided
  • Reporting dates for evaluations and an indication of the way in which student progress will be reported to parents
  • A transition plan that identifies the student's goals and the steps and actions required to enable the student to achieve those goals
  • A record of parent/student consultations
  • A record of staff review and updating of the IEP
  • Signatures of the principal, parent, and student if 16 or older

Appendix E-4: Roles of Educators and Other Professionals in the Development and Implementation of the IEP

The principal (the responsibilities that are mandated by Regulation 181/98 are marked with an asterisk):

  • assigns to one teacher the responsibility for coordinating the collaborative development of (not developing) the student's IEP, with input from educators involved in the student's programming;
  • facilitates collaborative planning for, and evaluation and updating of, the IEP;
  • ensures that an IEP is completed within 30 school days of a student's placement in a special education program;*
  • signs the IEP within 30 school days of a student's placement in the program;
  • ensures that the IEP includes a transition plan to postsecondary activities for students who are 14 years of age or older and who are not identified solely on the basis of giftedness,* and that the IEP of all students with special education needs, including students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), includes a transition plan regardless of the student's age or other exceptionality (PPM No. 156; PPM No. 140);
  • ensures that a student's IEP is implemented and that, as part of implementation, the student's achievement of the learning expectations is evaluated at least once every reporting period in which a Provincial Report Card is issued, and that the expectations are reviewed and updated at the beginning of every reporting period;
  • ensures that the recommendations of the IPRC with respect to special education programs and services, such as support personnel, resources, and equipment, are taken into account in the development of the IEP;*
  • ensures that relevant applied behaviour analysis (ABA) methods are incorporated, as appropriate, in the IEP of students with an ASD (as required by PPM No. 140);
  • ensures that parents, and the student if 16 years of age or older, are consulted in the development of the IEP;*
  • ensures that consultation with community agencies and postsecondary institutions that the principal considers appropriate is conducted as part of the preparation of a transition plan to postsecondary activities for students who are 14 years of age or older and who are not identified solely as “gifted”;*
  • ensures that relevant school board and community personnel who have previously worked and/or are currently working with a student with an ASD are invited to provide input and participate in the IEP process (PPM No. 140);
  • ensures that a copy of the IEP is provided to the parents, and to the student if the student is 16 years of age or older;*
  • ensures that the current IEP is stored in the Ontario Student Record, unless a parent of the student objects in writing.*

The classroom teacher:

  • contributes first-hand knowledge of the student's strengths, needs, and interests;
  • fulfils the role of the key curriculum expert on how the IEP can be developed to help the student progress through the Ontario curriculum;
  • in consultation with a special education teacher, develops any modified or alternative learning expectations required to meet the student's needs, plans instruction to address those expectations, and assesses the student's learning in relation to the expectations;
  • develops and implements individualized instructional and assessment strategies that will help the student achieve his or her learning expectations;
  • reviews and updates learning expectations at the beginning of each reporting period;
  • maintains ongoing communication with the student's parents, other teachers, and other professionals and support staff involved with the student.

The special education teacher:

  • provides diagnostic assessments, as appropriate and if required, to determine the student's learning strengths and needs;
  • provides support to the student's classroom teacher(s) by generating ideas and suggestions for developing modified expectations, alternative programs, or accommodations (e.g., individualized teaching or assessment strategies, human support, individualized equipment);
  • takes direct responsibility for certain aspects of the student's special education program;
  • develops any modified or alternative learning expectations that fall within areas for which the special education teacher has direct responsibility;
  • plans instruction to address those expectations and assesses the student's achievement of the expectations;
  • provides advice about materials and resources;
  • works with the classroom teacher(s) to maintain ongoing communication with the student's parents and other teachers.

The educational assistant:

  • helps the student with learning activities, under the direction and supervision of the teacher;
  • assists with providing appropriate accommodations as described in the IEP;
  • monitors and records the student's achievements and progress relative to the expectations described in the IEP, under the direction and supervision of the teacher;
  • maintains ongoing communication with the student's teacher(s).

Other professionals:

  • participate in the IEP process and serve on the in-school team, if requested;
  • help to determine the student's learning strengths and needs;
  • develop strategies for use in the school environment to assist the student in acquiring the knowledge and skills described in the learning expectations, and to demonstrate that learning;
  • train staff to implement the strategies;
  • provide advice about materials and resources;
  • provide technical assistance;
  • act as a resource and support for the student's family;
  • maintain ongoing communication with the student's teacher(s) and the in-school team;
  • conduct assessments, as necessary, with informed parental consent.

1. For background reference, the standards introduced in Individual Education Plans (2000) are listed in Appendix E-1.
2. Health support services are services related to health needs that must be addressed on a scheduled basis to enable a student to attend school (e.g., suctioning, injections, tube feeding, personal care – lifting, toiletting, feeding). These services are provided by individuals who are specifically assigned to administer the required procedures. See the School Health Support Services section in Part F of this guide for more information about the provision of these services.
3. Note, however, that for purposes of preparedness, principals are required to com­municate relevant information about any medical conditions requiring emergency response procedures to staff who work with students who have health concerns.
4. See note 3, above.
5. If the student requires the same types of accommodations in all subjects, courses, and skill areas, the information may be grouped in one separate section in the IEP (the “Accommodations” section), rather than repeated on a Special Education Program page for each subject/course.
6. When expectations for secondary courses are so extensively modified, a “K” course code is applied.
7. For more information about these approaches, refer to the ministry document Learning for All: A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction for All Students, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2013).
8. Information about funding for support staff can be found in Part A of this guide. For more detailed information, see the Ministry of Education's Special Education Funding Guidelines: Special Incidence Portion (SIP).
9. In this document, paraprofessional support staff refers to the staff listed in Appendix B-2:
orientation and mobility personnel, oral interpreters, sign interpreters, transcribers, interveners, and auditory-verbal therapists.
10. Information about funding for individualized equipment can be found in Part A of this guide. For more detailed information, see the Ministry of Education's Special Education Funding Guidelines: Special Equipment Amount (SEA).
11. If the student has been granted a deferral of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), it is also helpful to indicate this on the IEP.

Back to the table of contents