This provides more detailed information, on students attending kindergarten programs in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). Our District has a procedure (PR.614.CUR, attached as Appendix D) that guides the promotion and placement of junior kindergarten to grade 8 students
Q.1 – What reference does the Education Act have regarding age appropriateness for kindergarten?
A.1 - In terms of age of attendance in kindergarten, the Education Act states that, “If a board operates a junior kindergarten in a school, a child who is otherwise qualified may become a resident pupil at an age two years lower than that referred to in section 33.” (34.3). In section 33.1, the Education Act states that a person who attains the age of six years in any year is, after September 1 in that year, qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a school section of an English-language public district school board. In addition, the Education Act (section 21.1) defines the age of compulsory school attendance as the age of 6.
Q.2 – What is the OCDSB’s procedure on how students are placed in appropriate classrooms?
A.2 - Our District has a procedure (PR.614.CUR, attached as Appendix D) that guides the promotion and placement of junior kindergarten to grade 8 students. As defined in the procedure, placement in grades JK-8 refers to the optimal location within the learning environment that meets the academic needs of the student. The procedure also requires staff to consider the social, physical and emotional needs of students. The procedure acknowledges that while these needs will usually be met through age appropriate settings, there may be exceptional circumstances which will determine that other settings will better meet the needs of the student. While the procedure designates responsibility for promotion and placement to the school principal, it also states that consultation among principals, staff, parents, and students (as appropriate) is a significant part of the promotion and placement process.
Q.3 - What is the kindergarten program at the OCDSB?
A.3 - The OCDSB’s two year kindergarten program provides children with educational activities appropriate for young learners, taking into account their physical, intellectual, social and emotional needs. Through an inquiry and play based learning environment children are provided with many opportunities to learn the expectations found in the kindergarten curriculum.
Q.4 – What is the OCDSB’s practice regarding grade appropriate placement in kindergarten?
A.4 - The OCDSB’s philosophy is for children to be placed in classrooms that are age appropriate, realizing that there may be exceptional circumstances which will determine that other settings will better meet the needs of the student. Those exceptional circumstances allow for an opportunity to discuss the best learning situation for the student with the parent, principal and teacher, in consultation with the superintendent of instruction. Options considered might include delaying entry to kindergarten, attending school for less than a full day, or spending an additional year in either junior or senior kindergarten or reducing time in kindergarten. Our District’s commitment to considering the whole child when determining appropriate placement in kindergarten and beyond is aligned to thinking shared by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Q.5 – Is there a disproportionate number of students with late in the year birth dates who receive special education support?
A.5 - Data extracted on 7 October 2014 on the total number of students registered in 2014-2015 with late in the year birth dates (October, November and December) indicates that:
· 24 percent of all students that do not receive special education support have a late in the year birth date;
· 28 percent of students that receive special education supports, including gifted students, have a late in the year birth date.
Q.6 – Is there a strategy to support children with late in the year birth dates who have special needs?
A.6 - With the shift to full-day kindergarten, Learning Support Services staff made the strategic decision to develop early learning supports with a view to prevention, promotion, early identification and intervention. Multi-disciplinary teams, including educators, speech language pathologists, psychologists and educational assistants, make up several specific initiatives. The Early Learning Intervention Tools for Education (ELITE) team is focused on proactive and preventative early identification, programming and support for learning, self-regulation and resilience. The team’s work has included the introduction of the Nipissing District Developmental Screen (NDDS) to educator teams. In addition, the Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning – 4th Edition (DIAL-4) is now available in every school that offers a kindergarten program. The DIAL-4 is a developmental screener that can be used to identify students’ strengths and challenges in the areas of motor, concepts, language, self-help and social emotional development. Using the philosophy of ‘beneficial for all, essential for some’, Learning Support Services staff have developed classroom intervention programs that target foundation cognitive and oral language, early literacy and resiliency skills for our kindergarten students. Student specific intervention is available for kindergarten students with severe oral language difficulties through the Speech Language Intervention Program (SLIP). Classroom- and student-specific supports are available for kindergarten students that present with behavioural challenges through our Early Learning Educational Assistants and Itinerant Educational Assistants.
Learning Support Services staff has also developed a formal intake process for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and/or Developmental Disabilities who are new to the District to support transition to school and provide programming recommendations to school staff.