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The New Ontario Language Curriculum: Accommodations 4/5

When it comes to success for all students accommodations are necessary for some students' success. Creating a space where all students can thrive is a key part of what we do at Latch Onto Learning. We are happy that the Right to Read report chose to provide recommendations regarding accommodations.

Right to Read Recommendations 86-110 focus on Accommodations

Students with reading difficulties should first receive evidence-based classroom reading instruction
  • Seek out accommodations that have a strong track record of boosting student performance and experience

  • Work with students and their families to establish students’ accommodation needs, and monitor accommodations for any necessary changes

  • Regularly evaluate the impact of accommodations to make sure they are helping to improve the students’ learning experience and performance

  • Take a proactive approach to prevent bullying and eliminate the stigma that is attached to some accommodations, by educating students and teachers about learning differences

  • Teachers and educational assistants should proactively identify students who need accommodation

  • Communicate to parents and students that:

    • Students with disabilities are entitled to accommodation

    • Accommodations for students with reading difficulties should be provided alongside evidence-based interventions

    • Students and parents can be involved in the accommodation process

The 2006 Ontario Language Curriculum

The word 'accommodation' occurs 21 times in the curriculum document. It appears to focus primarily on three options for students:

  1. no accommodations or modifications

  2. accommodations only

  3. modified expectations, with the possibility of accommodations

We also see a definition of the three types of accommodations. here is a brief synopsis of those:

  1. Instructional accommodations: changes is teaching strategies

  2. Environmental accommodations: changes to the classroom./school environment (i.e. preferential seating, special lighting)

  3. Assessment accommodations: changes in assessment procedures (i.e. additional time, oral responses)

The New Ontario Language Curriculum

The New Ontario Language Curriculum addresses this aspect of Right to Read inquiry report in the front matter. The front matter is the beginning chunk of the curriculum. It includes guidelines for how to teach the curriculum. In the 'Some Considerations for Program Planning in Language' we see an entire section dedicated to "Principles for Supporting Students with Special Education Needs". Here is a quote that addresses accommodations:

Providing required instructional, environmental, and/or assessment accommodations and/or modifications as specified in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Accommodations may include the use of learning tools such as sound walls and visual dictionaries, augmentative and alternative communication devices, and access to assistive technology such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text programs;

Outside of this, we see a clear emphasis on Universal Design principles and differentiation throughout the curriculum. It will be interesting if additional policy/program memorandums will come out in the months ahead regarding accommodations.

At Latch Onto Learning we have the opportunity to provide a wide range of instructional, environmental and assessment accommodations that may not be possible in a traditional classroom (i.e. 1:1 teacher attention/proximity, minimal auditory distractions, extra time on skills, flexible seating). This has proven to be extremely helpful for our students. However, I wanted to echo the Right to Read report's statement that accommodations are not a substitute for evidence-based instruction. Students need effective teaching methods. Unfortunately, few Ontario Teachers have been trained on these methods. At Latch Onto Learning, we take research-based methods very seriously and provide Latch Onto Literacy training to all of our tutors so they can be informed on research-based methods.

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