Pages - Improving Student Learning and Achievement
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Improving Student Learning and Achievement
Improving Student Learning and Achievement

Special Education Programs and Services

The York Region District School Board has a strong tradition of fostering an inclusive, innovative and engagement-oriented community.  The York Region District School Board also recognizes the importance of setting high expectations and closing the gap for students with special education needs.  In alignment with the Ministry of Education’s Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario, and informed by the School Effectiveness Framework, YRDSB has created a five-year Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Well-Being (BIPSA 2016-2021).  The BIPSA makes explicit that students and their experiences in our schools and classrooms are at the centre of all we do.

The BIPSA supports the Student Services Vision of recognizing all learners as our learners and working together to ensure the discovery of potential each and every day. The York Region District School Board’s planning, program development and service delivery processes have a strong tradition of including students with special needs as an integral part of our culture.  This tradition is based on the belief that every student can learn and succeed with appropriate accommodations and modifications that address individual strengths and needs.  Furthermore, the practice of inclusion goes beyond the continuum of service placements available to address individual student needs to include meaningful participation and interaction with others.  

In the York Region District School Board, Student Services is responsible for collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure successful facilitation and implementation of:

  • a continuum of service delivery models responsive to pupil strengths and needs;

  • skilled resource staff who work in an interdisciplinary approach that supports the development of quality programs for exceptional pupils;

  • a tiered approach to prevention and intervention;

  • high quality evidence-based assessment and personalized instruction;

  • intentional planning, instruction and differentiation; and,

  • inclusive and collaborative environments where all staff, students, parents and community members are engaged as partners.

In the 2017-2018 school year, Student Services focused on building capacity and creating a collective responsibility by: 

  • creating a  Structured Teaching and an  In School Team Meeting video series to guide and support professional learning for staff across the system;
  • creating the Swimming Safety Checklist to assist principals and staff involved in the planning of recreational and educational swimming programs for students in Community Classes; 
  • trialing and establishing board wide licensing for Equatio, a digital math tool that allows users to easily add equations, formulas and graphs to Google documents;
  • updating Policy 662.0 Provision of  Student Health Supports to meet the legislative requirements found in PPM 161.0:  Supporting Children and Students with Prevalent Medical Conditions (Anaphylaxis, Asthma, Diabetes and/or Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder) in schools;
  • updating Policy 663.0 The Partnerships with External Agencies for Provision of Services by Regulated Health Professionals, Regulated Social Services Professionals, and Paraprofessionals;
  • updating Policy 610.0 Reporting Children  and Youth in Need of Protection;
  • providing system wide training in regards to the changes and updates of Policy 662.0 and Policy 610.0;
  • delivering CPI Enhanced Training to professionals across the school board to support care, welfare, safety and security for staff and students;
  • creating a hover-over tutorial in SSNET to support Special Education Resource Teachers (SERTs) in the creation of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) documents;
  • migrating all Regulated Health Professionals to SSNET electronic records in compliance with privacy and regulated health professional  legislation;
  • refining existing IEP tip sheets from consultants and incorporating information from the Ministry Special Education in Ontario (Kindergarten to Grade 12) Policy and Resource Guide;
  • providing an After School Skills Development Program for students with ASD with a focus on personalized goal setting and skill building in collaboration with families. Program delivered to over 300 students with supports from educators and regulated health professionals;
  • providing formal training for staff members in PEERS Curriculum and Children’s Friendship Training to support social skill development for students with ASD;
  • providing formal training for all PT/OT staff in Partnering for Change(P4C) evidenced based approach to address motor skills using a tiered model of intervention;   
  • collaborative Teacher Inquiry with SERTs in French Immersion schools with a focus on responsive planning and instruction for students with identified learning disabilities in the FI classroom;
  • engaging in collaborative Teacher Inquiry with Classroom Teachers, SERTs, Student Services Consultants, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Autism Consultants with a focus on social communication supports and success for students identified with Autism in the typical classroom setting;
  • integrating Social Emotional Learning and Resiliency within Secondary Learning Strategies Classes;
  • Student Support Centre (SSC) Facilitated Learning Tour for new teachers as part of the New Teachers Induction Program;
  • partnering with Curriculum and Instructional Services for the Outdoor Education Workshop - supporting students with special needs in outdoor learning environments;
  • engaging in professional learning on privacy legislation and its application for regulated health professionals;
  • participating in the Culture Counts for Students with Autism conference by various Student Services professionals;
  • obtaining equipment (e.g. all terrain wheelchairs) to enable all students to access to the curriculum and Outdoor Education centres; and
  • providing a variety of professional learning opportunities, such as:
    • professional learning for 1 SERT from every school facilitated by Psychologists and Special Education Consultants: Understanding and Administering Standardized Educational Assessments;
    • various workshops featuring Read&Write for Google Chrome and Clicker
    • Harnessing the Capacity of Assistive Technology:  Optimizing Student Learning (Primary:  grades 2-4);
    • Minimize Barriers, Maximize Learning Enhanced by Assistive Technology - Going Deeper (grades 4-12);
    • Making the Digital Leap:  A blended learning model to support opportunities for face-to-face learning, on-line modules and drop-in offerings through a variety of digital platforms.
    • IEP and SSNET Drop in Sessions;
    • Numerous opportunities to support the programming, planning and implementation of educational programs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including opportunities for self-directed online learning as well as full-day/half-day/after school professional learning sessions;
    • workshops provided by the PT/OT  in the areas of sensory processing, fine and gross motor development; and
    • delivering the S-LP Conference, Literacy Engagement: Assessment and Programming for Reading, Writing and Phonological Awareness with Emerging Communicators.

Ongoing and Other Recent Work

  • Continuing to provide two full days of New SERT Training to all new Special Education Resource Teachers in Elementary and Secondary schools;
  • Continuing provision of support to enhance oral language and phonological awareness for students entering kindergarten in September through the Building Blocks for Kindergarten summer program;
  • Continuing delivery of support to augment oral language and phonological awareness for students in junior and senior kindergarten programs;
  • Continuing delivery of workshops for families of students with mild articulation difficulties;
  • Continuing to train staff as Empower™ Reading instructors to deliver intensive support to struggling readers; 
  • Partnering with Early Intervention Services (EIS) to foster a strong working relationship to support the successful entry of children into Junior and Senior Kindergarten including Early Intervention Orientation Evening sessions;
  • Partnering with Research Services for the implementation of the Executive Functioning Pilot Project at 24 schools.  The project focuses on a whole class approach with students and teachers to co-create strategies to address the executive functioning barriers that prevent them from learning;
  • Offering Special Education Part 1, 2 and 3 for Administrators;
  • Partnering with Curriculum and Instructional Services to support system wide professional learning in regards to the Understanding Learning Disabilities - How Processing Affects Mathematics Learning  and Unstructured Time Chart;
  • Partnering with Inclusive Schools and Community Services and Curriculum and Instructional Services to provide a variety of summer school opportunities such as:
    • Reach ahead program for students with Special Equipment Amount (SEA)​ technology entering Grade 9;
    • Discovering the Workplace course specifically designed to support elementary school students with a mild intellectual disability on their transition into high school;
    • Grade 6, 7 & 8 Literacy and Numeracy reinforcement program for students who have an IEP;
  • Continuing to make revisions and updates to SSNET in response to feedback from teachers, SERTS and Regulated Health Professionals, as well as providing support through video resources and tip sheets to assist with SSNET documents and processes;
  • Providing updated CPI® information, templates and samples to support YRDSB staff and student safety through CPI® Enhanced Training;
  • Engaging in a formal partnership with Children’s Treatment Network (CTN) to provide Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Pathology, Communication Disorders Assistant and Coordinated Service Planning services to children/youth and their families to address their home and community rehabilitation, service coordination and alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) needs;   
  • Collaborating with Kinark Child and Family Services to support the transition of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder from Intensive Behavioural Intervention into school through the Connections for Students program;
  • Collaborating with Kerry’s Place and Mackenzie Health to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder through Applied Behaviour Analysis Services;
  • Collaborating with York Support Services Network to offer Mindfulness groups to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities;
  • Maintaining membership within the York Region ASD Partnership, working collaboratively with agency partners and community members to align services for children with ASD in York Region;
  • Partnering with community agencies regarding accessibility;
  • In collaboration with York Region Athletic Association and support from Motion Specialities, coordinating and running the Students of Differing Abilities Track Meets for students across York and Simcoe regions, in which over 1000 Elementary students and 300 Secondary athletes participate; and
  • Training for Board approved interpreter/translators to facilitate collaboration with regulated health professionals.
​​Updated November 2018
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