Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In this article, we outline recommendations for assessments to ensure early accommodation in school.
The committee’s mandate from the Ontario government requires recommendations focused on the publicly-funded K-12 school system. However, students and educators with disabilities also face barriers in other school settings, including:
- Private schools
- Pre-school programs, such as early literacy programs
Therefore, all these settings should comply with the forthcoming K-12 education standards.
Assessments to Ensure Early Accommodation in School
Students with certain visible or evident disabilities receive early intervention before transitioning to kindergarten. Once they begin school, they should easily continue to receive the same supports or accommodations from their school boards. Arranging students’ accommodations as early as possible promotes their success in school.
In contrast, students with other disabilities may not receive early intervention before or at the start of school. Instead, students wait for professional assessments to identify their disability-related needs. In other words, they cannot receive the support they need to succeed in school until their school boards recognize their disabilities. However, the Committee reports that some school boards do not provide professional assessments until students are in grade three (3). Therefore, the Committee recommends that all school boards should offer assessments to identify students’ disability-related needs beginning in kindergarten.
Finally, school boards have a duty to accommodate students, with or without an official diagnosis of disability. As a result, school boards should provide accommodations to students waiting for assessments. To optimize this process, professionals who assess students could provide school boards with guidelines and resources detailing the accommodations that could be most helpful to students. Alternatively, the Ministry of Education could post resources on the Committee’s recommended accessibility hub for sharing information between school boards. In this way, school boards with existing early intervention practices could help other boards provide needed supports to their students.