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Special Education and Student Services

The Ottawa Catholic School Board’s approach to special education is based upon the principle of meeting students’ needs within the most enabling environment. We work to ensure that our students grow and develop as unique individuals.

Identifying the gifts and strengths of our students is the starting point for developing programs which will nurture growth and learning. Our goal is to enable learners to reach their fullest potential, enabling them to take their place as independently as possible within society. All of our schools have facilities, resources, support personnel and equipment necessary for developing and implementing special education programs and services.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board is committed to providing appropriate accommodations to the point of undue hardship in the form of special education programs and services, including classroom based accommodations, to all students with demonstrable learning based needs, consistent with its obligations under the Education Act and in full compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Our Board actively promotes inclusion programming, where students with special needs fully participate in the life of the school community. Wherever possible, students are educated in regular classrooms with age-appropriate peers. For those children whose complexity of needs exceeds these resources, a specialized placement may be necessary. A full range of placements and services are made available to our students.

Special Education Report

The Special Education Report covers all programs and services offered by the Ottawa Catholic School Board. The contents of the Special Education Report complies with the appropriate Ministry of Education’s standards, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Education Act, and all other relevant regulations.

The Special Education Report been divided into three accessible sections, as follows:

Contact Us

Your school principal should always be your primary contact for inquiries regarding Special Education and Student Services. If you require additional assistance, contact:

Special Education and Student Services
Phone: 613-224-4455 Ext 2351

Fax: 613-225-9153

Other useful resources

Find out more about our Identification, Placement and Review Committees (IPRC), the identification of exceptional students, special education programs, and provincial & demonstration programs.

Explore some more resources created by OCSB staff and members of our SEAC Committee for parents of students with special needs.

We have put together a list of websites below to help inform you about special education. Use these guides and resources to learn more about your child’s needs and how best to help them get the education they deserve.

Transition to high school: Frequently asked questions about special education programs and services

Q. What is an Individual Education Plan?

A. An Individual Education Plan is a written plan that describes the special education program and/or services required by a particular student. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) outlines how the school will address these expectations through appropriate accommodations, modifications and/or alternative programs/courses, as well as specific instructional and assessment strategies. The IEP is updated on a regular basis as the student’s strengths and needs change.


Q. What will the IEP look like in high school?

A. It will look very similar to the one that was developed for your child in Grade 8. Your child’s strengths and areas of needs will be identified and this information will be used to develop your child’s educational program. The IEP will outline the special education programs and services that your child is to receive, and a statement of the methods by which the student’s progress will be reviewed.


Q. Does a student require an IPRC?

A. Students who have behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical, or multiple exceptionalities may require special education programs and/or services to benefit fully from their school experience. Such students may be referred to an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC). Access to special education programs and services are not limited to students identified through the IPRC process. Parents retain the right to initiate the IPRC process for any reason; however, an IPRC is not required when both the school and the parent agree that the student should be placed in the regular classroom. Schools provide special education programs and/or services to meet students’ educational needs and prepare an IEP based on formal assessments even if the student has not been identified as exceptional.


Q. What should you consider when choosing the level of Grade 9 courses: K Courses, Locally Developed Compulsory course, Applied or Academic?

A. If a student is currently receiving accommodations only and is meeting grade level expectations, he or she will likely take locally developed, applied or academic courses. Which one he or she takes will depend on his or her individual strengths and needs. If a student is receiving any modified learning expectations and/or alternative learning expectations in his or her current program, he or she may be considered for Locally Developed Compulsory credit courses. If a student is pursuing a pathway that includes non-credit alternative courses, these may be coded as K Courses. The student’s guidance counsellor, resource teacher and subject teachers can provide additional information and recommendations to support course selection that best suits his/her needs.

Non-Credit Alternative K Courses

KALCreative Arts for Enjoyment and Expression
KBBMoney Management and Personal Banking
KCCTransit Training and Community Exploration
KCWExploring Our World
KENLanguage and Communication Development
KGLPersonal Life Skills
KGWExploring the World of Work
KHDSocial Skills Development
KHICulinary Skills
KMMNumeracy and Numbers
KNAFirst Canadians
KPFPersonal Health and Fitness
KPHChoice Making for Healthy Living
KPPSelf Help and Self Care
KSNExploring Our Environment

What are accommodations?

Accommodations include individualized teaching and assessment strategies, environmental changes or individualized equipment that supports student access to curriculum and demonstration of the achievement of expectations. Accommodations do not alter the learning expectations from the provincial curriculum. Accommodations alone may be made when the student is able to meet the learning expectations of the grade or course.

How will these affect high school credits?

A student who receives accommodations will be working towards achieving curriculum expectations at grade level and a credit will be granted if a passing grade is achieved.


What are modified learning expectations?

Modified learning expectations are changes to grade or course expectations. Modifications refer to the changes that are made to the grade level expectations for a subject or course to meet the needs of the student. They may include: expectations from a different grade level; and an increase or decrease in the number and/or complexity of the learning expectations for the regular grade level.

How will these affect high school credits?

A student who receives modified learning expectations will be working towards curriculum expectations that differ from grade level. The principal, in consultation with the school-based special education team, will determine whether achievement of the modified expectations (depending on the degree of modification) will result in successful completion of the course and will determine whether the student will be eligible to receive a credit for the course.


What are alternative expectations?

Alternative expectations may be written for students who need an individualized program that is not based on the Ontario Curriculum. Alternative expectations may be coded as K Courses which are alternative (non-credit) courses, e.g. KCC-Transit Training and Community Exploration. Other examples of alternative programs include: social skills, orientation and mobility, and personal care programs.

How will these affect high school credits?

Alternative expectations are not for credit. A student who receives alternative expectations will be assessed in relation to the expectations set out in the IEP.

Additional special education resources

Ontario Ministry of Education website - Special Education
Caring and Safe Schools in Ontario
The Individual Education Plan (IEP) - A Resource Guide
This guide is intended to help teachers and others working with students with special needs to develop, implement, and monitor high-quality IEPs. A five-step process is recommended.
Planning Entry to School - A Resource Guide
This resource guide represents an effort to identify and build on existing effective practices and to translate evidence-based research into practical ideas and processes.
Shared Solutions: A Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students with Special Education Needs
This resource guide is intended to help parents,educators,and students with special education needs work together to prevent conflicts, resolve them quickly, and allow students to develop their full potential and succeed in school.
The Association for Bright Children of Ontario, Ottawa Chapter
ABC seeks to increase the understanding of bright children at home, at school and in the community, and encourages the development of appropriate educational programs.
Autism Ontario, Ottawa Chapter
Autism Registry
The Registry for People with Autism is an Ottawa Police Service 2010 pilot project in partnership with the Ottawa Chapter of Autism Ontario.  The online registry promotes communication and gives police quick access to critical information about a registered person with autism. The Registry can provide police with emergency contact information, detailed physical descriptions, known routines, favourite attractions or special needs of the individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).   This information can assist officers in communicating with, attending a residence of or dealing with an emergency involving an individual with ASD.
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
CHEO is a pediatric health and research center providing outstanding family-centered patient care, pioneering breakthrough research, and training the health care professionals of tomorrow.
Children's Mental Health Ontario
Children's Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) represents and supports the providers of child and youth mental health treatment services throughout Ontario.
Canadian National Institute for the Blind
CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.
Down Syndrome Association National Capital Region
A source for local mental health help and events in Ottawa-Carleton.
Engaging Parents of Students with Special Needs
Learning Disabilities Association of Ottawa-Carleton (LDAO-C)
The Learning Disabilities Association of Ottawa-Carleton is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased awareness and respect for persons with learning disabilities.
A Canadian charitable organization that supports a good life for people with intellectual disabilities.
Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders (OAFCCD)
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Support for those in our community who are living with the effects of acquired brain injury (ABI), along with their families, friends and caregivers, through advocacy, education, and services.
Ottawa Children’s Coordinated Access & Referral to Services
A case resolution mechanism designed to provide recommendations and referrals for families, children and  youth who have complex needs and are experiencing difficulties gaining access to support and services in the community.
Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre