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Special Education in High School

At WECDSB, every student is a valued and welcomed member of our Catholic learning community.  We believe that all students should be empowered to become independent, active members of their community, a place where every person contributes and benefits from living and learning together. 

The Transition to Secondary School

Your child’s special education needs will continue to be supported as they transition into high school.   The transition begins with communication between the elementary and secondary school personnel in conjunction with the student and their family.  Some of the key actions that occur are:

Transition Meetings:  Transition meetings involving parents/guardians, teachers, special education staff, and any relevant service providers (e.g., therapists, psychologists) occur in grades 7 and 8.  These meetings focus on discussing the student's transition goals, academic needs, accommodations, and any concerns or challenges that may arise during the transition process.  It is also the time when a decision regarding the appropriate pathway is determined for the student in order to allow for the greatest opportunity for success in high school.  Families are key members of the team and provide input on their child's strengths, needs, and goals.  Together, the team will develop a transition plan that aligns with their child's individual needs and preferences.

Orientation and Familiarization: Part of the transition process will include opportunities for students to visit the high school, explore the campus, meet teachers and staff, and become familiar with the school environment and routines.  Some students will require more transition actions than others and this will be determined by school personnel and the family. 

Support Services and Resources: Information about how necessary support services and resources are available to students with special education needs in the high school setting is also a key piece of the transition process.  Students need to know that they will be supported in their new environment even though it might look a little differently than in elementary school.  Supports can include:
  • Special Education Staff:
    • Includes the Department Head for Special Education, Learning Support Services Teachers (LSST) as well as Life Skills Teachers
    • Staff act as the information hub for regular classroom teachers and provide support to students and their families.
  • Life Skills Program - with the direction and support of the Special Education Department students are provided with a mix of specialized courses along with support for students attending the regular classroom
  • A Learning Support Room - that provides accommodations for assessments, assistive technology support, and a quiet space to complete work. Students are supported by the Special Education Department Head along with the Learning Support Services Teacher(s)
  • Smaller class sizes (Locally Developed Courses)

How will my child be supported with their IEP?

The IEP, or Individual Education Plan, is a working document developed at the beginning of a school year or semester and is reviewed and adjusted throughout the learning period. 

In high school, the special education staff will use the information gathered from the transition meetings to update the IEP that was completed in grade 8.  Any changes will be communicated with parents in order to provide input/consultation.  Individual classroom teachers will be provided with the IEP in order to continue using strategies that have proven to be successful in the past and offer suggestions for updating the IEP. 

As students enter high school, they are encouraged to take more ownership of their learning and actively participate in discussing their accommodations with their classroom teachers.  All students are encouraged to become more independent learners in order to help facilitate a smooth transition to the community, workplace or postsecondary education. 

What are the Differences Between Accommodations and Modifications?

ACCOMMODATIONS are changes made to the learning environment, how the teacher instructs or assesses, but does not change the curriculum

Accommodations may include:
  • Allowing students to answer assessment questions orally
  • Allowing students to use technology that assists them with written output challenges
  • Allowing extra time or space for assessments
  • Reading and clarifying test questions
Students receiving Accommodations to support their learning in high school continue to work towards achieving the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, or OSSD.

are changes made to the Ontario Curriculum in the grade-level expectations or a reduction in number and/or complexity of grade level expectations for a subject or course to meet a student’s learning needs.

Modifications involve:
  • Working at a lower grade level
  • Reducing the complexity of assignments
  • Reducing the number of curriculum expectations
It is important that parents/guardians/caregivers and school staff have conversations about the use and impact of modifications. Modifications in secondary courses can affect credit attainment.  

What are Alternative Expectations?

ALTERNATIVE EXPECTATIONS refer to pathways that support the learning of students through either a  Certificate of Accomplishment or an Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC).

Typically, these certificates will support students transitioning into community involvement or the world of work after secondary school.

*Students working towards a Certificate of Accomplishment can remain in their high schools for 7 years or until turning 21 years of age.

Parents are encouraged to reach out to the Special Education department at their school should they have any questions or concerns.  Remember, at the Windsor-Essex County District School Board, you are never alone on this journey - We’re with you all the way!

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