Key Special Education Practices

What they are

The term special education processes is used here to describe best practices for instructing students with special needs. Recommended special education processes include the following:

Use Differentiated Instruction (DI)
Teachers differentiate their instruction for the whole class, small group or individual students based on content, process, environment and product for optimal achievement. Strategies and links for DI instruction can be found here.

Implement Teacher Assessment of Students' Skills
Teachers and the in-school team can assess students’ skills, utilizing a variety of tools.

Employ a Teaching Strategy
Various instructional, environmental and assessment strategies are provided for student needs, identified exceptionalities and conditions.

Documentation methods and templates are available for immediate use.

Consult in-school team and consider developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP)
Best practices for in-school collaboration on accommodations, modifications, and alternative programming.

Plan for Transitions
All students on IEPs who are 14 years and older (except if identified solely as gifted) must have a transition plan supporting their post secondary plans. Students with ASD must also have a transition plan.

Develop a Safety/Emergency/Crisis Response Plan
With a suitably trained team, establish procedures for students who may be violent, run from school, and/or exhibit other behaviours, to keep everyone safe.

Consider/Utilize Non-Teacher Professional Assessments
An overview of non-teacher professional assessments is provided.

Consider/Implement Assistive Technology
The process for attaining assistive technology is described, as well as information on the most common technologies utilized in Ontario schools to allow student to access curriculum.

Consult Ontario Ministry of Education Resources
For strategies and procedures related to Special Education. A list is available here and references to Ontario Ministry of Education resources are throughout this site.

Consult Board Special Education Plans
Each School Board in Ontario has a specific Special Education Plan that outlines specific criteria for formal identification, various placement options and other available supports and processes. In addition supplementary resources may be provided.

Consider formal identification of an exceptionality and placement via an Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC)
IPRC procedures, exceptionalities and placements can be found here.

Report and Revise Goals
Reporting procedures and best practices for students on IEPs.

Consider Community Resources
Links to various community organizations that can be utilized for strategies by teachers and passed on to parents for supports.


Scroll down for links to videos and additional resources

PowerPoint overview of changes to the criteria for the diagnosis of a learning disability as per the DSM-v


Ontario Ministry of Education website, with key resources and
policy documents for reaching every student in grades 7 - 12.
Includes sections on assessment, evaluation and reporting and differentiated instruction.

See pages 113-120