Special Education at WCDSB
- Special Education Model
- Our Consultation Process
- Glossary and Acronyms
Introduction to Special Education at WCDSB
This section of the website will help you to understand Special Education services at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB)
"Our Catholic Schools: heart of the community -- success for each, a place for all."
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is committed to providing programs and services to meet the diverse needs of all student programs and services to meet the diversity of student needs within our Catholic Schools.
The focus is on the individual student and his/her optimum development within the learning environment of age appropriate peers in the home school community. In the delivery of individualized programs, Classroom Teachers are supported by their Principal, Special Education Teacher(s), Educational Assistant(s) and members of the Collaborative Team assigned to their school.
The WCDSB philosophy of Special Education is aligned with the Board's Mission Statement:
"As disciples of Christ, we educate and nurture hope in all learners to realize their full potential to transform God's world."
This provision is made through the development of Individual Education Plans (IEP). This enables teachers, parents, and others involved with the student to collaboratively identify individual learning needs and to develop specific teaching and learning strategies and accommodations and/or modifications to the curriculum to address these needs.
Special Education provides programs and services to meet the diverse needs of all students, working toward a place for each and success for all. Keeping the student at the centre, each special education plan is rooted in the home school community, and supports students.
At WCDSB it is our belief that all children are capable of learning. However, each child develops and learns in his or her own unique way. We recognize that every child has their own special strengths and needs.
What does Special Education Service look like at WCDSB?
The model of Special Education in the WCDSB is an inclusive model. It has been in place since the 1980's, and it can truthfully be said that this Board was a pioneer in the implementation of inclusion of special needs students in Ontario. The Ministry of Education has made a statement that supports this practice..."The Ministry of Education and Training is committed to the principle that the integration of identified students should be the normal practice in Ontario when this meets the student's needs and is in accordance with the parent's wishes." (Jill Hutcheson, MOET; June 9, 1994; Regulation 181/98)
Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) is committed to providing programs and services to meet the diversity of student needs within our Catholic schools. This provision is made through the development of the Individual Education Plan (IEP). Program accommodations/modifications, data collection, and further assessment may occur throughout the WCDSB Special Education process.
When an IEP needs to be developed, it enables teachers, parents and others involved with the student:
• to collaboratively identify individual learning needs,
• to develop specific teaching and learning strategies and/or curriculum accommodations and/or modifications to address these needs,
• to develop on-going assessment and reporting practices which identify progress in the achievement of the Individual Education Plan, and
• to establish a post secondary school transition plan where appropriate.
At WCDSB the focus is on the individual student and his/her optimum development within the Catholic learning environment of age appropriate peers. In the delivery of individualized programs, Classroom Teachers are supported by Special Education Teachers, Educational Assistants, and members of the Collaborative Team (Learning Services) assigned to their school.
What if I have concerns about my child at school?
Any concerns about a child's learning, should be discussed with your child's teacher and/or the school Principal who will then be able to outline possible next steps.
A "team" approach is most beneficial in helping any child with learning needs. The team may include Parents, Classroom Teacher, Special Education Teacher and Principal. Additional personnel involved may include; Speech-Language Pathologist, Social Worker, Special Education Resource Teacher, Psychoeducational Consultant and Child and Youth Care Worker who are all members of the Collaborative Team.
Although the foundation of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is built on the principles of inclusive education and its preferred placement for students receiving Special Education programs and services is a regular classroom, occasionally, in co-operation with parents, students are served through time limited partial and full withdrawal placements. Please see Programs section of the Special Education website.
In general, three types of Special Education programs are delivered in one or more of the following combinations:
• Classroom Placement
• Classroom Placement with Special Education Support (either in class or withdrawal)
• Congregated Placement/Alternative Placement
The selection of one or more of the time limited partial or fully withdrawn placements is made in the rare instance when the student's needs are better met outside an integrated setting. Every student is unique and every effort is made to increase progressively the quality and quantity of inclusive time spent with members of the school community both socially and academically.
A Special Education Program is defined by the Ministry of Education in the Education Act as an educational program that:
• Is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and
• Includes a plan containing specific objectives and an outline of special education services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil.
A Special Education Service is defined by the Ministry of Education in the Education Act as:
• Facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary
for developing and implementing a special education program.
Link to Ontario Ministry of Education Special Education Website:
Who does WCDSB consult with about Special Education?
Our Special Education policies at WCDSB are rooted in the processes and standards provided by the Ministry of Education, the IEP Process, IPRC Process and the WCDSB Special Education Service Delivery Model. WCDSB's philosophy of Special Education is based on ongoing collaboration with all stakeholders including parents, students, staff, and community partners.
Continuous consultation with Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) is a forum for consultation with our community partners.
Link to WCDSB Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC):
Link to Ministry of Education Special Education website:
Glossary of Special Education Terms
Academic Assessment is a process undertaken by the classroom teacher to assist in determining the strengths and needs of a student. An academic assessment may consist of an examination of written school records, discussion with parents and appropriate school personnel, observation of the student and analysis of daily work samples. Board-wide and Provincial assessments (e.g. Balanced Literacy Assessment Measures; CAT-3; CCAT; EQAO) are important parts of academic assessment. Parents should be consulted but no written parental consent is necessary.
Articulation Disorders refer to difficulties in using the sound system of a language and are characterized by omissions, substitutions, distortions and addition of sounds in words. They may range in severity from mild misarticulation which is hardly noticeable to complete unintelligibility.
Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is intended to assist young people and their families with the significant cost of selected necessary devices designed to replace or enhance a weakened physical function. This program is operated by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
Audiological Assessment is an assessment performed by an audiologist regarding hearing loss and hearing problems.
Augmentative /Alternative Communication System (AAC) is a supplemental communication system which may use any combination of pictures, gestures, signing, or other forms of assistive technology for communication; user is generally nonvocal.
Behaviour Support Plan (BSP) is a written plan developed collaboratively by school personnel and the Child and Youth Care Worker, with consultation as appropriate by the Psychoeducational Consultant and family. The plan details the actions of both the school staff and student when particular behaviours occur.
Braille code is a tactile system for reading and writing, based on a cell composed of six raised dots.
CollaborativeTeam is a multidisciplinary group of Board level Special Education support staff that assists In-school teams in providing support to students with complex needs. The Collaborative Team consists of a School Social Worker, Speech and Language Pathologist, Psychoeducational Consultant or Psychologist, Special Education Resource Teacher and Itinerant Child and Youth Care Worker. As needed, the Attendance Counsellor may also be a part of the Collaborative Team in individual situations.
Communication Disorder is impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems. A communication disorder may be evident in the processes of hearing, language, and/or speech. A communication disorder may range in severity from mild to profound.
Conductive Hearing Loss is a hearing loss due to damage or obstruction in the outer and/or middle ear. It is generally of a temporary nature.
db (decibel) is a logarithmic ration unit of sound used in audiological assessments to determine the degree of hearing loss.
Dysfluency (stuttering) refers to disruption in speech characterized by involuntary, audible or silent repetitions or prolongations of sounds, syllables or words.
Educational Assessment is a process undertaken by the Special Education teacher which complements the academic assessment. An educational assessment may consist of observation, informal and standardized individual or group tests. A written analysis of the information gathered assists school personnel in determining the strengths and needs of the student. Informed written parental consent is required.
In-School Team (Elementary) consists of the Principal, Classroom teacher, and Special Education teacher. Other school and system personnel may be included.
In-School Team (Secondary) consists of Principal or designate, Special Education Program Head, Guidance Counsellors and teacher(s). Other school and system personnel may be included.
Language Disorder is impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems. The disorder may involve the form (phonology, morphology, syntax), content of language (semantics), and/or function of language in communication (pragmatics) in any combination.
Principal's Report Written for an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) is a written summary of the student's school history compiled by the Principal from school records and acquired data which complements the academic and educational assessments. This report is presently orally at the IPRC.
Psychoeducational Assessment/Intervention undertaken by the Psychoeducational Consultant or Psychologist may include standardized assessment of academic and cognitive abilities, learning styles and social/behavioural/adaptive functioning. The range of interventions may include classroom observations, review of student's work and school records as well as interviews with the student, parents and appropriate school personnel
Safety Plan is a written plan developed collaboratively by school personnel and the Child and Youth Care Worker and family, with consultation as appropriate by members of the Collaborative Team. It details the safety considerations for the student/others in the school and outlines the steps to be taken by school staff in situations when the safety of the student/others in the school is compromised. See above re: Behaviour Support Plan.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a hearing loss due to damage to the inner ear and/or auditory nerve. It is generally of a permanent nature and amplification (i.e. hearing aids and FM system) is necessary.
Special Equipment Amount (SEA) is a type of specialized funding provided by the Ministry of Education to school boards to assist with the costs of equipment (computer/non-computer) that is essential to support students with special needs. The need for specific equipment must be determined by a qualified professional. Recommended equipment is meant to provide students with access to the Ontario Curriculum and/or to demonstrate learning.
Speech/Language Assessment is an assessment performed by a Speech and Language Pathologist. The assessment usually includes classroom observations, interviews with student, school personnel and parent(s) and both formal and informal testing.
Unilateral Hearing Loss is hearing loss in one ear and usually normal hearing sensitivity in the other.
Visual Efficiency is the degree or level to which the vision is used to obtain information effectively.