In some cases, students entering secondary school require a differentiated program as they work toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, an Ontario Secondary School Certificate or a Certificate of Accomplishment.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board operates three programs in each secondary school that have been designed for students with an IEP who have not met level 1 grade 8 expectations. They are the Essential Program, the ACTIVE Program and the Community Living Program.
For some students, achievement of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, Ontario Secondary School Certificate or Certificate of Accomplishment may take longer than four years.
The Essential Program
This program is designed for students whose Individual Education Plan indicates the student is working on grade 5-7 expectations from the Ontario Curriculum in Mathematics and Science and/or English.
In grades 9 and 10, students in the Essential Program will take special courses for credit in Mathematics and Science and/or English. They will also take a special education learning strategies course for credit that will assist the students to be successful in their grade 9 and 10 program. Upon successful completion of the grade 9 and 10 Essential Program, students will be prepared to study workplace preparation courses in grades 11 and 12. Students in the Essential Program will work to successfully complete the required 30 credits to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
Students who experience difficulty in meeting the requirements of this program may choose to focus on meeting the requirements for the Ontario Secondary Certificate with the understanding that they may continue to work towards a diploma at a later date.
The Essential Mathematics, Science and English courses are locally developed courses approved by the Ministry of Education. “Locally developed course are courses that meet the educational needs not met by provincial curriculum policy documents.” (OSS, p. 43).
The ACTIVE Program
This program is designed for students whose Individual Education Plan indicates the student is working on Grade 4-5 Ontario Curriculum expectations in Mathematics and Science and/or English. The ACTIVE Program is designed to assist students with the transition from school to the workplace or the community.
The students are grouped for a portion of the day each semester. The congregated portion of the students’ program is designed and taught by Special Education teachers. The program focuses on literacy, numeracy and personal management skills. For the other part of the day, the students are integrated into a combination of the following: Religion, Technology, Physical Education, Visual Arts, Drama, Music and Business.
Each student’s program is individualized and based upon the annual goals as stated in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Parents are invited to provide input into the development of their son’s/daughter’s annual goals. Their IEP indicates that significant modifications and accommodations are required.
Students in the ACTIVE Program may work to achieve a Certificate of Accomplishment which is non-credit bearing.
Some students may take a combination of Essential/Workplace, Open and/or ACTIVE courses. If students successfully complete Credit-bearing courses, they will achieve credits. Students who study a combination of ACTIVE and Credit-bearing courses will work to achieve an Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC).
The Community Living Program
The Community Living Program will support students in their transition to supervised community involvement. The students are grouped for a portion of the day each semester. The congregated portion of the students’ program is designed and taught by Special Education teachers. The program focuses on functional literacy and numeracy and personal management skills, i.e., recreational skills, social skills and self-advocacy skills. For the other part of the day, the students are integrated into a combination of the following: Religion, Technology, Physical Education, Visual Arts, Drama, Music, and Business.
Each student’s program is individualized and based upon the annual goals as stated in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Parents are invited to provide input into the development of their son’s and/or daughter’s annual goals. Their IEP indicates that the student is working to achieve alternate expectations.
Students in the Community Living Program will not earn credits but will work to achieve a Certificate of Accomplishment.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board uses a cognitive screening tool (Canadian Cognitive Abilities Test – CCAT) and an educational assessment to determine giftedness in students. Students scoring at or above the 98th percentile in two batteries of the CCAT are identified as “gifted”. The educational assessment analyses and summarizes the achievement levels, learning style, characteristics of giftedness, and strengths and needs of the student. Together, these assessments form the basis of a recommendation for development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the student. The WCDSB identification process involves a mass screening of students in grade 4 and/or individual screening.
Grade 4 Mass Screening
As a group test, the CCAT is administered to all grade 4 students by the Special Education Teacher at each school. Students scoring at or above the 98th percentile in two or more batteries of the CCAT will be recommended for further assessment to determine the need for development of an Individual Education Plan.
Parents and teachers may collaborate to recommend a student to be considered for assessment. After extensions have been provided and noted by the classroom teacher, the student will be discussed at an In-School Team meeting and further enrichment opportunities may be provided. Parents will be consulted and informed. A decision at this level may or may not include recommendation for a CCAT screen and parents will be informed. If a CCAT screen is recommended, the Special Education Teacher will administer the test and provide feedback to parents and staff regarding the results.
Programs & Services
The foundation of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is built on the principles of inclusive education. Therefore, all students in the WCDSB whose learning needs are identified as gifted receive modifications and/or alternative expectations to the curriculum in their regular class. Strategies to meet the modified expectations of learners identified as gifted may include curriculum compacting, guided independent study with a curriculum unit, learning contracts, flexible grouping, varied product choices, tiered activities, and complex questions. Alternative expectations may include guided independent study outside of the Ontario curriculum.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board has an acceleration policy to assist in the formalized process of accelerating identified students working on an IEP whose needs would best be served through one of the following options:
- Full grade acceleration
- Subject acceleration
Acceleration is a joint decision involving parents, students, the Principal, Classroom teacher and Special Education Teacher.
Enrichment opportunities may be facilitated at the school level by mentorship, competitions, supervised special projects, clubs, and invitational opportunities specific to each elementary and secondary school community.
Board-Based Elementary Gifted Education Programs
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board provides opportunities for identified students working on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to congregate together and offers Gifted Education Programs The programs are offered to students in the junior (grades 4-6) and intermediate (grades 7-8) divisions, and are the responsibility of the Itinerant Teacher of the Gifted.
The goals of the programs are to provide depth, challenge, stimulation and inspiration in activities that span a variety of disciplines and offer a variety of themes, venues and guest instructors. Cooperation, interaction and friendships are facilitated and encouraged during these one day events to make them a positive experience for all student participants.
The one day programs are offered once a month (October – May) throughout the school year and invitations and permission forms are delivered to students and families from the Special Education Teacher at the student’s home school.
University Co-operative Education Program (UCEP)
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board offers the University Cooperative Education Program (UCEP) in partnership with St. Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University for identified gifted and academically talented students.
This program provides students who have achieved high academic success to experience university life before leaving secondary school. In this program, students can earn a university credit, one or two Grade 12 secondary school credits (taught by secondary school teachers at the university), and two Co-op credits. Visit the co-operative education link at:
Secondary Field Trips
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board provides opportunities for identified gifted and academically talented students who need opportunities to explore future educational paths by visiting university campuses or other idea-centered venues in southern Ontario. Two or three field trips are coordinated with the assistance of each secondary school enrichment contact teacher per school year.
Opportunities Beyond the Classroom
Contests, Competitions and Challenges
For WCDSB Elementary and Secondary School Students, Parents and Teachers. 2016-2017 Edition
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) offers to its students and their parents an inclusive and integrated programming and service structure. This is based on the WCDSB’s philosophy and mission as a Catholic learning community. With some rare exceptions, this means that every student will attend her or his neighbourhood school, and will be assigned to a regular class and classroom teacher. A student with special needs may be supported with a plan as outlined in their IEP. Supports may also include additional staff (usually within the regular classroom), specialized equipment, partial individual or small group withdrawal to a learning resource centre for his/her needs and learning goals, as outlined in her/his Individual Education Plan or IEP.
Changes in placement within this Program Service Model are determined through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and/or Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) processes and always involve significant communication with parents. Please see those sections of the Special Education Website for more information on these processes. Consistent with Waterloo Catholic School Board’s Special Education Model and philosophy, placement in a regular class is the first option considered for all our students.
Assigning intensive supports for students is based on system-wide information gathered by Student Services Administrators, Special Education Resource Teachers, and school Principals. Students requiring intensive supports entering the school system as well as leaving must be included in this information gathering process. Decisions are then made based on individual needs of students, staff availability, budget factors, access to service, and equity. This process is typically completed during the first month of school when student transfers/enrolment figures, etc. have stabilized. Intensive support staffing levels are then finalized for the year. This approach appears to minimize staffing changes during the school year and allows for increased continuity of programming.
Alternative placements are communicated to parents through various means including parent/school conferences, case conferences, IPRC Annual Reviews, Transition meetings to/between schools, and counselling/clinical interviews with professional staff.
The focus is on the individual student and his/her optimum development within the Catholic learning environment of age-appropriate peers. In the delivery of individualized programs, Classroom Teachers are supported by Special Education Teacher(s), Educational Assistant(s) and members of the Collaborative Team assigned to their school.
The Board’s delivery system for the provision of Special Education programs and services is organized by groups of schools. A Collaborative Team is assigned to a group of schools. This team consists of:
- Psychoeducational Consultant
- Social Worker
- Speech and Language Pathologist
- Child and Youth Care Worker(s)
- Special Education Resource Teacher
The Collaborative Team supports the school level team which is comprised of the Principal, Classroom teacher(s), Special Education Teacher and Educational Assistant. In addition, each school has available upon request the services of the following support staff which may include:
- Consulting Audiologist
- Itinerant Teachers of Vision and Hearing
- Itinerant Teacher of the Gifted
- Autism Support Officer
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board offers to its students and their parents an inclusive and integrated programming and service structure. This is based on the Board’s beliefs, mission and guiding principles (see introduction to Special Education at WCDSB section of website) as a Catholic learning community. With some few exceptions, this means that every student will attend her or his neighbourhood school, and will be assigned to a regular class and classroom teacher. A student with special education needs may be supported with additional staff (usually within the regular classroom), specialized equipment, partial individual or small group withdrawal to a learning resource centre for his or her needs and learning goals, as outlined in the student’s Individual Education Plan or IEP.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board operates the educational component of four Section 23 treatment programs.
Admission to the majority of residential facilities in Ontario is determined selectively on the basis of assessed need for special non-educational services. Responsibility for seeking appropriate residential care facilities rests directly with the parents of each pupil. School boards are, however, expected to assist parents in locating the appropriate care of treatment service. Depending on the nature of the child’s requirement, this may be provided by a child’s mental health centre, (i.e., Grand River Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health Services), children’s psychiatric service, (i.e., Child and Parent Resource Institute), Family and Children’s Services or other organizations offering appropriate service.
Placement of a student in a treatment centre is at parental request or referral and is a decision made by the parent, student and the treatment centre. Boards are then contracted to provide educational programs consistent with the treatment program and Ontario education legislation. However, Student Services Collaborative team members can facilitate such a referral and assist the school in providing the family with the understanding, support and encouragement in making the referral.
WCDSB has partnerships with the following programs:
- Grand River Hospital, CAIP
- Grand River Hospital, YAP
- Hope Harbour Home
St. Agatha, ON
Children experiencing severe difficulties receive therapeutic and educational treatment at our special on-site school. The program aims at enabling successful re-integration into community schools. The program serves 40 primary and junior age students from Waterloo Region, Wellington County, Brant County, and Wentworth County.
Child and Adolescent Inpatient Program (CAIP)
Grand River Hospital, Kitchener, ON
Psychiatric and Mental Health Program
The Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatry Unit provide emergency psychiatric assessment, stabilization and treatment on a short-term basis for children and youth, under the age of nineteen.
Children and youth are admitted to the program by the unit psychiatrist. If the child or youth is experiencing a psychiatric crisis, they can be seen through our Emergency Department/Crisis Clinic. The unit psychiatrist or psychiatrist-on-call and the Crisis Clinic will determine the need for admission.
The professional team at CAIP is made up of team players from Psychiatry, Psychology, Social Work, Child and Youth Work, Nursing, Occupational Therapy and Teaching. The teacher is provided in partnership by Waterloo Catholic District School Board. The patient and his/her family also become members of this team.
The Young Adult Program (YAP)
Grand River Hospital, Kitchener, ON
The Young Adult Program is a psychiatric/mental health treatment program offering services to youth aged 16 – 21, who require an intensive, structured treatment program in a small classroom environment. Grand River Hospital staff are responsible for student admission, determining the length of stay and managing the waitlists.
The professional team at YAP includes: a psychiatrist, social worker, child and youth care workers and teachers while in the program. The educational component of this program is provided by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
The objectives of the program are to enhance the individual’s functioning so that they can be reintegrated into community schools and activities.
Hope Harbour House is a 16 bed open custody facility for Phase II Young Offenders operated by Ray of Hope Inc. The residents are males between the ages of 16 – 21 years of age. The length of stay is determined by the courts. The educational component of this program is provided by a Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
Supervised Alternative Learning is an option for students who, for a variety of reasons are not meeting with success within the regular school program.
A SAL placement might include one or more of the following:
- Full time or part time paid employment at an approved place of work;
- Volunteer placement at an approved organization;
- Part time employment with a part time volunteer placement;
- Part time employment with part time school;
- Other activities suited to the student’s needs;
- Completion of a life-skills program.
For more information on SAL, please contact your child’s school Guidance Counsellor who will work closely with the School Attendance Counsellor in order to determine if this is a viable option.