Date came into force or revised
Revised and effective July 1, 2006.
All students with special needs should have equitable access to learning opportunities for achievement, and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their educational programs.
Rationale or purpose of policy
Special education programs and services enable students with special needs to have equitable access to learning and opportunities to pursue and achieve the goals of their educational programs.
School Act on appeals
11 (2) If a decision of an employee of a board significantly affects the education, health or safety of a student, the parent of the student or the student may, within a reasonable time from the date that the parent or student was informed of the decision, appeal that decision to the board. See Section 11 for additional information on appeals.
Special Needs Students Order M150/89 (PDF) defines students with special needs, describes the obligation of boards of education to consult with parents in the placement of students with special needs and describes policy regarding integration.
Individual Education Plan Order M638/95 (PDF) sets out the requirements for Boards of Education to design and implement individual education plans for students with special needs.
Student Progress Report Order M191/94 (PDF) describes progress reporting requirements for students with special needs.
Support Services for Schools Order M149/89 (PDF) sets out the requirements for auditory systems, speech and language services, medical assessments and specialized health services.
Inter-Ministry Protocols for the Provision of Support Services to Schools (PDF) guide the coordination and delivery of support services to school-aged children across British Columbia and describe the roles and responsibilities of ministries and their partner boards of education, independent school authorities, health authorities, regional offices or agencies.
Policy in full
British Columbia promotes an inclusive education system in which students with special needs are fully participating members of a community of learners. Inclusion describes the principle that all students are entitled to equitable access to learning, achievement and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their educational programs. The practice of inclusion is not necessarily synonymous with full integration in regular classrooms, and goes beyond placement to include meaningful participation and the promotion of interaction with others.
A board of education must ensure that a principal offers to consult with a parent of a child who has special needs regarding the student’s placement in an educational program.
A board of education must provide a student who has special needs with an educational program in a classroom where the student is integrated with other students who do not have special needs, unless the educational needs of the student with special needs or other students indicate that the educational program for the student with special needs should be provided otherwise.
The emphasis on educating students with special needs in neighbourhood school classrooms with their age and grade peers, however, does not preclude the appropriate use of resource rooms, self-contained classes, community-based settings or specialized settings. Students with special needs may be placed in settings other than a neighbourhood school classroom with age and grade peers. This should only be done when the Board of Education has made all reasonable efforts to integrate the student, and it is clear that a combination of education in such classes and supplementary support cannot meet their educational or social needs, or when there is clear evidence that partial or full placement in another setting is the only option after considering their educational needs or the educational needs of others.
A board of education must ensure that an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is designed for a student with special needs as soon as practical after the board identifies the student as having special needs. The only instances in which an IEP is not required are when:
- the student with special needs requires little or no adaptations to materials, instruction or assessment methods; or
- the expected learning outcomes have not been modified; or
- the student requires 25 or fewer hours of remedial instruction by someone other than the classroom teacher, in a school year.
A board of education must ensure that the IEP is reviewed at least once each school year, and where necessary, is revised or cancelled.
A board of education must offer the parent of the student, and where appropriate, the student the opportunity to be consulted about the student’s educational program, when requested to do so.
A board of education must offer each student who has special needs learning activities in accordance with the IEP designed for that student. When services are so specialized that they cannot be replicated in every school, they should be available from the district level, or else school districts should arrange to obtain them from community or other sources.
Evaluation and reporting
Standards for all students, including students with special needs, are developed with high but appropriate expectations for student achievement. Students with special needs are expected to achieve some, most, or all provincial curriculum outcomes with special support.
Unless a student with special needs is able to demonstrate his or her learning in relation to expected learning outcomes set out in the curriculum for the course or subject and grade, the student's progress report(s) must contain written comments describing:
- what the student is able to do;
- the areas in which the student requires further attention or development; and
- the ways of supporting the student in his or her learning.
The written comments must contain a statement about the progress of the student in relation to the goals in his or her IEP. Where appropriate, written comments should describe ways to enable the student to demonstrate his or her learning in relation to expected learning outcomes set out in the curriculum for the course or subject and grade, and should describe the time period required to enable the student to demonstrate such learning.
A letter grade (the typical manner for reporting student progress in grades 4 through 12) may only be assigned for a student with special needs where that student is able to demonstrate his or her learning in relation to expected learning outcomes set out in the curriculum for the course or subject and grade.
Where a professional support person other than the classroom teacher is responsible for providing some portion of the student's educational program, that person should provide written reports on the student's progress for inclusion with the report of the classroom teacher.
The ministry audits enrolment of students with special needs services to ensure fair distribution of available resources among school districts. The ministry regularly reviews the achievement of students, including those with special needs, by monitoring results such as graduation rates, performance on provincial assessments and transitions. In addition, the School Act requires School Planning Councils in each school to develop annual plans that address achievement of all students. The Act also requires boards of education to submit Accountability Contracts to the Minister each year. The Ministry periodically reviews district goals, structures, practices and other matters through the district review process. The ministry audits enrolment of students with special needs services to ensure fair distribution of available resources among school districts. School districts are responsible for the planning and delivery of services for all students, including those with special education needs.
As per Section 11 of the School Act, all Boards of Education must have appeal procedures to help resolve disputes. The ministry expects that the appeal procedures will be based on principles of administrative fairness, which include the right of students and parents/guardians: to be heard by the Board of Education; to be consulted in decisions affecting them; and to an impartial Board of Education decision based on relevant information.
Procedures related to policy
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a documented plan developed for a student with special needs that describes individualized goals, adaptations, modifications, the services to be provided, and includes measures for tracking achievement. An IEP must have one or more of the following:
- the goals or outcomes set for that student for that school year where they are different from the learning outcomes set out in an applicable educational program guide; or
- a list of the support services required to achieve goals established for the student; or
- a list of the adaptations to educational materials, instructional strategies or assessment methods
An IEP should also include the following:
- the present levels of educational performance of the student;
- the setting where the educational program is to be provided;
- the names of all personnel who will be providing the educational and support services during the school year;
- the period of time and process for the review of the IEP;
- evidence of evaluation or review, which could include revisions made to the plan and the tracking of achievement in relation to goals; and
- plans for the next transition point in the student’s education (including transitions beyond school completion) and linkages to Graduation Portfolio during Grades 10-12.