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How can I get my child assessed for school support?
Each new school year comes with its own set of routines and expectations.
After your child settles into the flow of the year, you may notice they are consistently struggling in a certain area of their studies. If this is the case, talk with your child and their teacher to see if you can find the root of the issue.
You can talk to your child’s teacher with them present, or separately if needed. Most teachers will send home information at the beginning of each school year about how they will communicate with students and families. In the Ontario school system, it is appropriate and expected that parents and teachers talk about things that come up during the school year, both academically and personally. Think of yourself as part of the success support team for your child.
Every student learns differently. Some students need more support than others. Your child might need to be evaluated for an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Most of the time an IEP is considered for students that need extra support with one or more of these areas of exceptionalities:
- Behaviour - This includes children that have issues with impulse control or even anxiety or phobias.
- Communication - This includes students that are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Autistic, have Speech Impairments or a Learning Disability.
- Intellectual - This includes students identified as Gifted or a Developmental Disabilities
- Physical - This includes physical limitations that may require special assistance and those diagnosed as blind or with low vision.
If it seems like your child is struggling more than their classmates even though they are working very hard to keep up, it may be time to look further into what might be causing things to be so challenging. Your child may need extra time or support in one task or multiple subjects.
Every publicly funded school in Ontario has access to special education resources and supports. This may be your first point of contact. Ask your child’s teacher to set up a meeting to discuss possible solutions. Most often, you will be invited to a formal Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) meeting.
What happens at an IPRC meeting?
The meeting is a conversation between the caregiver, the student if they are over 16, the principal, the special education teacher, and often the classroom teacher and any other school board staff that is appropriate.
During the IPRC, everyone will be able to review all available information about the student. The different needs will be discussed and the IPRC may:
- consider an educational assessment
- consider other assessments where appropriate
- interview the student (with parental consent if the student is less than 16 years of age) if needed
- consider any information that the parent or student submits, including recommendations for programs and services.
It may be requested that you speak to your child’s health care provider as they may need to assess or refer you for certain assessments and tests. These are covered under OHIP.
In Ontario, there is a process to have students assessed through their school board at no cost to the family. However, this process often has a long waitlist. You have the option to seek out assessments from private sources outside the school board at your own cost. These are often quite expensive and not always covered by private health insurance.
If you have just moved to Ontario, the adjustment to a new home, new friends, new school system, new everything can be very overwhelming for your child. Ask your child’s school if they have any suggestions to help with the transition; your school may even have a settlement worker that you can talk to.
For More Information
- Special Education - Some students may need extra support from a special education program to help them be successful in school. This tip sheet explains the process for ensuring students get the help they need. From People for Education. Available in more than 10 languages.
- Assistive Devices Program - If you have a long-term physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies when you qualify for the Assistive Devices Program. From the Ontario Government.
- Communication Disabilities Access Canada - This page has resources for people who have communication disabilities. It includes videos and information about communication rights, as well as guidelines and vocabulary to discuss communication accommodations with businesses and organizations. From Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC).
September 22, 2023