Accommodations are the teaching strategies, supports and/or services (including technology) that are required in order for the student to access the curriculum and demonstrate learning. Accommodations do not alter the provincial learning expectations for the grade level or interfere with the content, expectations, level or validity of the assessment process.

Alternative expectations are not part of the curriculum. Social skills, anger management or organizational skills could come under alternative expectations if someone is specifically teaching them to the student. 

BIPSA (Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement)
Ministry of Education, Student Achievement Division has developed a comprehensive set of tools and resources to assist school districts in planning, designing and monitoring effective improvement strategies. All of these tools – the Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement, the Board Improvement Planning Assessment Tool and the School Effectiveness Framework – reinforce the understanding that board improvement planning has two main purposes:

  1. To improve student learning, achievement and well-being, and
  2. To build capacity and sustainability in the skill and knowledge of educators.

The Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and its related tools and templates are built on the notion of precise SMART goals based on the analysis of relevant data.

The province of Ontario has outlined the program, or curriculum, that must be followed to educate children at each grade level.  The curriculum describes the expectations (skills and knowledge) that students must acquire as well as the achievement level (e.g., mark or grade).  The curriculum is divided into different subject areas (e.g., Language, Mathematics, Social Studies) for both elementary and high school students.

Education Act
The Education Act is the provincial law that governs education in Ontario.  All school boards must operate according to this law.  The Act includes:

  • Legislation: These are the overall laws, passed as Bills by government, regarding education
  • Regulations: These are made by the Minister of Education to expand on the Education Act and give more details about how the Act is to be applied.
  • Policies, and Policy/Program Memoranda (PPMs): These are policy statements issued by the Ministry and prepared in conformity with the Education Act and its regulations, explaining the ways the Ministry prefers the Act and regulations to be carried out.

EduGains is the website that houses Ministry of Education resources to support policies and programs to support improved learning and teaching.  Website can be found at:

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assesses how well Ontario’s public education system is developing students’ reading, writing and math skills, through province-wide standardized tests.

Exceptional Student
According to Ontario law (the Education Act), an exceptional student is a student who has been formally identified by an Identification and Placement Review Committee (IPRC).  An exceptional student has significant needs in behaviour, communication, intellectual, physical or multiple areas and meets the provincial and school board criteria for identification.  A student who has been identified as ‘exceptional’ must be provided with the supports and services required to meet the exceptional needs

Individual Education Plans (IEP) are developed for all exceptional students and for those students who require accommodations, modifications or alternative programs.

Local Association
A group or organization that provides support to children with special needs and their families; is based in the school board catchment area; and, that is affiliated with a provincial parent association.

These are instructions issued to schools and boards.  They are sub-divided into categories of Policy/Program, Business and Safety.  They are issued by the Deputy Ministers of Education and are required to be implemented.

These are the changes made to the grade level expectations (higher or lower) for a subject or course in order to meet the needs of the student. Modifications may result in providing the student with different content, a slower pace or by changing the expectations for the amount of material learned or the standards of achievement that are expected to be demonstrated.

ODA Accessibility Plans
Under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2001) school boards are required to prepare annual accessibility plans which report on the measures the board has taken and intends to take in the coming year to identify, remove and prevent barriers to people with disabilities.

October Report/OnSIS
Ontario Student Information System is a Ministry system for the collection and management of education related data.  OnSIS provides comprehensive, depersonalized qualitative data for the purpose of developing evidence based analysis of student achievement by the Ministry and school boards.  School boards are required to submit student data in October and March, including information on exceptionality, IEPs, suspensions and expulsions.  The student data was previously submitted once a year in October and was known as the October Report.

The Ontario Human Rights Code is legislation which provides the right to freedom from discrimination based on “disability” in a number of areas, including services such as education. The Code has precedence over all other legislation, including the Education Act.

Parent Guide
Every school board is required to develop a guide for parents that outlines the IPRC process for determining whether a student is exceptional, deciding the student’s placement and on how parents can appeal these decisions.

Regional Office
An office of the Ministry of Education that covers a geographic area of the province, and relates to school boards in that area

A legal document developed by the government, in this case the Ministry of Education, to provide details about how a section of legislation will be implemented.

Special Education Advisory Committee (S.E.A.C.)
Every board is required to have a SEAC.  This committee is composed of volunteers from parent associations, such as OAFCCD, as well as trustees.  The purpose of this committee, which usually meets on a monthly basis, is to advise the school board on special education issues.  Meetings are open to members of the public.

Special Education Consultant or Co-ordinator
This is usually a Special Education Teacher who has responsibilities at the school board level to support special education.  They may be responsible for supporting a number of schools, or for supporting services for a specific exceptionality.

Special Education Plan
Every school board is required to have a plan for the special education programs and services that they provide. The Special Education Plan must be reviewed annually and a report submitted each year to the Ministry identifying any changes.

Special Education Programs
Educational programs that are based on, and modified by, the results of continuous assessment and evaluation, and that include a plan containing specific objectives and an outline of educational services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil.

Special Education Services
Facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program.

Special Education Plan Checklist
The Ministry of Education provides an annual checklist for school boards to complete regarding the Special Education Plan.  The checklist requires school boards to note any changes to the plan and may ask specific questions regarding special education.

Special Education, Student Support or Learning Resource Teacher
Special Education Teachers have additional qualifications in the education of students with exceptional learning needs.  Some Special Education Teachers work with a specific group of students for the majority of the school day (e.g., learning disabilities, language impairment, mild intellectual disability, etc). In addition, Special Education Teachers may also look after IPRC preparation, arrange case conferences, assist in ongoing assessment, evaluation and reporting, facilitate placements, and act as a liaison with community service providers.

An administrator in the Board of Education who is responsible for either a geographic area or a program area, e.g. Superintendent of Special Education.

Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
A professional with post-graduate and specialized training.  Teachers of the Deaf are versed in communication, language and literacy development; curriculum and instructional methods; Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing studies; audiology; speech; principles of Auditory Verbal learning and the study of sign languages.