Toronto District School Board
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Referral Process Using an Equity Lens

The Special Education team, in collaboration with all staff, are committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. This includes our ongoing commitment to human rights, equity, anti-racism, anti-oppression, and our commitment to combating anti-Indigeneity and anti-Black racism. This commitment is the foundation of the TDSB Equity Policy. It is the basis of everything we do and underpins all programming across all grade levels.

Before any Referral is started, teachers will work closely with principals to confront and challenge unconscious bias when considering an IST/SST Referral. Principals will review Assessment and Referral practices to interrupt, interrogate and strategize accordingly, to ensure that Indigenous and Black students are treated equitably, as they have been disproportionately represented in TDSB Special Education program data.

Instructional Interventions

  • Teachers must implement Growing Success practices and Ministry of Education Learning for All
  • Evidence of Tier 1 and Tier 2 Strategies
  • Evidence of Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy
  • Evidence of Learning Profile; Individual Learning Plan; other documentation
  • Evidence of implemented strategies by Special Education Consultant
  • Administration has visited the classroom and supported/mentored teacher
  • The goal is that the Instructional Interventions address the learning and/or socio-emotional needs of the student; if not, after careful consideration, the student may be referred to SST

Referral to In-School Support Team

After careful consideration of the student’s identity, and any bias or barriers have been confronted and challenged, ensuring assessments were culturally responsive and relevant to the student’s identity, and in consultation with the parent and the Principal, the teacher may proceed to the In-School Support Team (IST).

The role of the IST is to review and discuss the intervention strategies used by the teacher to support students whose needs need to be met differently (e.g., academic, social, behavioural).They work collaboratively to develop, monitor and evaluate action plans and strategies to help the teacher in appropriately programming for the student’s needs.

After the teacher has gathered information and reviewed assessment material (e.g., diagnostic assessments, recent work samples, direct observation), the information is recorded on an Individual Learning Profile (ILP) to be shared at the IST. The ILP tracks on-going assessments, instructional levels, interventions, recommendations, outcomes and follow-up strategies to address the needs of the student. Based on this information, the teacher(s) can provide instruction that is personalized, targeting the critical skills that the student requires. Most student needs can be addressed by the IST.

When the strategies recommended by the IST have limited success, the IST can refer the student to the School Support Team (SST).

Referral to the School Support Team

After the IST, the teacher will work with the student to ensure all strategies are implemented as discussed in the IST. The teacher will reach out to the Inclusion Consultant and the Principal for support. Only after careful deliberation with the teacher and the Principal, and continuing to confront and challenge bias or barriers regarding the student and or assessment practices, if it is determined that the strategies are all being implemented with limited success, the teacher may present the student to the School Support Team (SST).

In addition to school staff, this team offers additional knowledge by including psychologists, social workers, attendance counsellors, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, parents or caregivers and students over 16 years of age.

Parents are the most valuable partner in a child’s education. Although parental attendance at the IST and SST meetings is not mandatory, we encourage them to participate. If parents cannot attend, they will be informed about any plan of action recommended at the meeting to address their child’s needs.

When a member of the TDSB’s professional support services attends the meeting, such as a psychologist or social worker, parental permission is required if the student is to be discussed by name.

Students over 16 years of age are also encouraged to participate and must be consulted. Students 18 years of age or older must be invited to attend the SST and give permission for their personal information to be shared with their parents.

The SST may recommend a referral to the Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC).

Referral to an Identification, Placement and Review Committee

A student’s assessment findings may suggest to the SST that referral to an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) would be appropriate for possible identification as an “exceptional pupil”. A recommendation to consider a student for an IPRC requires careful analysis of the effectiveness of instructional interventions that have been tried with the student and thorough understanding of the student’s learning strengths and needs.

IPRC requests are made by the school principal on recommendation of the SST or following a written request by parent(s)/guardian(s).

The role of the IPRC is to review assessment and evaluation material about a student. They will decide if a student is exceptional and if so, they specify the type of exceptionality and decide an appropriate placement for the student - Regular Class or Special Education Class. Placement in the regular class could involve a special education teacher working with the student for less than half the school day. Placement in a Special Education Class would involve a special education teacher working with the student for more than half the school day.

An annual IPRC review is held for each student identified as exceptional. The student's progress, strengths and needs will be discussed. As with an original IPRC, the committee will decide if a student is exceptional and if so, they specify the type of exceptionality and decide an appropriate placement for the student - Regular Class or Special Education Class.