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The New Ontario Language Curriculum: Professional Assessments and Systematic Issues 5/5

Right to Read Recommendations 111-130 focus on Professional Assessments

  • Revise Policy/Program Memorandum 8 to align with the research and DSM-5 criteria

    • Remove:

      • Must have assessed intellectual abilities that are at least in the average range

      • Any reference to a discrepancy (or inconsistency) between their intellectual abilities and achievement

      • (Making it clear that at least average intelligence is not a requirement for receiving reading interventions or other supports)

      • The statement that the student’s learning difficulties should not be “the result of…socioeconomic factors; cultural differences; lack of proficiency in the language of instruction…”

    • Include:

      • Difficulties persisted for at least six months, even though the student has received interventions that target the difficulties

      • Difficulties result in the affected academic skill(s) being substantially and quantifiably below those expected for the student's age

      • Difficulties started during school-age years or even in preschool

      • Problems are not solely due to intellectual disabilities, hearing or vision problems, other mental or neurological “disorders,” adverse conditions or inadequate instruction (however, reading disabilities/dyslexia can co-exist with other disabilities)

  • School boards should create clear, transparent, written criteria and formalize their processes for referring students with suspected reading disabilities for psychoeducational assessment based on the young student’s response to intervention (RTI)

  • The Ministry of Education should provide increased funding to hire and train additional teachers to provide tier 2 and tier 3 interventions, without increasing class sizes.

Students should receive more intensive evidence-based interventions while they are waiting to be assessed
  • School boards should stop requiring multilingual students to have a minimum number of years of learning English or French before referring them for assessment

Recommendations 131-157 focus on Systematic Issues

  • The Ministry should implement measures to monitor and assess whether students at risk for reading disabilities/dyslexia and students identified or diagnosed with reading disabilities/dyslexia receive the same level and high quality of special education programming and support no matter which school board they attend

  • The Ministry should ensure consistency across the province. If any inconsistencies are found, the Ministry should take steps to address them and align all services with standards based on the scientific evidence.

  • All Board Improvement and Equity Plans should include data on reading/literacy achievement and the actions the board will take to respond to areas of concern.

  • School boards, schools and educators should communicate effectively with students and parents (in a plain-language, accessible format that invites action, and that is translated into languages that reflect the school community)

Policy/Program Memorandums

The Policy/Program Memorandum 8 does not appear to be revised at the time of writing this blog post (mid-August). Perhaps this is something that occur in the months ahead.

Regarding Data Collection, I believe the Policy/Program Memorandum 168 will address some of the recommendations from the Right to Read inquiry report.

The New Ontario Language Curriculum

With the New Curriculum's focus on a Tiered Approach to Language and Literacy Instruction, we can see how some of the recommendations are indirectly addressed. For example, the curriculum states "The tiered approach is meant to be fluid and flexible" and in reference to tier 3 instruction students "experiencing difficulties in particular areas of language and literacy, regardless of whether they have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or an identified special education need" should receive tier 3 support. This aligns with the idea that students do not need an assessment to receive support. If they are experiencing difficulties, they receive extra support.

Now it is interesting to note that tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 instruction appear to be the primary responsibility of the classroom teacher (tier 3 involves "support of other educators, including a special education teacher"). I think this will be very difficult for teachers to accomplish well and at this point I do not think it completely aligns with the Right to Read report. See recommendation 83:

"The Ministry of Education should provide increased funding to hire and train additional teachers to provide tier 2 and tier 3 interventions, without increasing class sizes"

Without the proper funding for tier 2 and tier 3 interventions, teachers will have to manage an entire classroom of 20+ children while simultaneously intervening with students who are at-risk for reading difficulties. This is not fair to kids or to teachers. The government has either skipped many of the Right to Read funding recommendations (that occur throughout the report) or they have not yet announced the funding allocation to hire and train teachers for interventions.

At Latch Onto Learning we believe small group and 1:1 attention is good all learners. However, it is necessary for some students. If you want what is best for your child, consider setting up a free diagnostic session.

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