When an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) has deemed a student to be exceptional, the school principal must ensure that an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed and implemented for the student within 30 school days of their placement in a special education program. IEPs are also sometimes developed for students who are not identified as exceptional, but require some form of accommodation or modification in order to be successful.
What does an IEP contain?
According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, an Individualized Education Plan 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.
Special Education in Ontario Policy and Resource Guide, 2017
What does the language in the IEP mean?
An IEP may outline various levels of support needed in different subject areas. These levels include:
“Accommodated Only (AC)”
This means that the student is still working towards Ontario curriculum expectations, but requires special teaching and assessment
strategies, human supports, and/or individualized equipment in order to learn and demonstrate learning.
The following table is examples of accommodations that may be included on an IEP, divided into the headings of instructional, environmental, and assessment accommodations. This was sourced from the Individualized Education Plan Resource Guide (2004).
• Buddy/peer tutoring
• Alternative work space
• Extended time limits
Modifications are changes made in grade-level expectations to meet student learning needs, such as working on material from a lower grade level, or decreasing the number or complexity of grade-level expectations. Often, modified expectations will also be supported by accommodations for demonstrating learning.
Alternative expectations focus on knowledge and skills that are outside of the Ontario curriculum. These can include alternative programs (e.g. speech remediation, orientation and mobility training, and personal care programs). At the secondary level, there are also alternative courses, which are non-credit courses with daily-living/life skills focused outcomes.
How can I be involved in my child’s IEP development?
Parents are to be consulted during IEP development, and the IEP is reviewed at least once every reporting period. Parents are encouraged to actively participated in the development and updating of their child’s IEP, as this will provide a written basis ensuring the type and level of support provided in the classroom. The IEP is viewed as a legal document in Ontario, so the school board is compelled to provide the accommodations and modifications listed.
Where can I learn more about Individualized Education Plans in Ontario?
Ministry standards on special education, including IEPs, can be found here.
A guide to IEP development and writing for teachers can be found here.
Sample IEPs for various exceptionalities can be found here.