Special Education - Programs, Admission & Delivery Policies

HCOS Response to Intervention (RTI) Model

HCOS uses a Response to Intervention (RTI) framework, utilizing formative assessment to regularly collect data to make instructional decisions in a multi-tier model. While valuing prevention and early intervention, teachers use ongoing assessment to inform teaching practice and allocate instructional resources to provide appropriate, evidence-based interventions.

Central elements of all RTI models include early screening of all students to identify those at risk for academic difficulties, implementing research-based interventions matched to student need and increasing intensity of intervention when needed. RTI also involves continuous monitoring and recording of student progress during interventions to guide decisions for both the student (e.g. further assessment, individualized planning) and the teacher (e.g. using small group or one- to-one learning contexts, topics for professional development).

Although RTI originates from special education, it is intended for use with all students in general education. For further details, consider Tiered Approaches to the Education of Students with Learning Disabilities.

Tier 1: Universal Programming

Most students, roughly 80-85 percent, are in Tier 1 with mainstream teachers and mainstream expectations and achievement.

Tier 1 may include Learning Services (LS) Monitoring students, those who are minimally meeting expectations but whose needs are being managed by teachers with minimal Learning Services Consultant (LSC) involvement.

Depending on the teacher's training and experience, they may ask their LSC for suggestions. If the teacher asks and there seems to be reason for concern, then the student will be considered to be on LS Monitoring status.

Tier 2: Targeted Interventions

Tier 2 students comprise approximately 5-15 percent of the student population. They are typically in one of two categories.

LS Student

LS students are struggling to minimally meet or are not meeting expectations. They have been referred to LS using the LS Referral Form and their teachers are receiving regular LS consultation through the LSC on how to help these students and families.

These are non-designated students who have adaptations in place in the Student Learning Plan (SLP) Adaptions Box. For students requiring significant support, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may be considered along with diagnostic assessment; these students are expected to have regular or adapted courses.

If needed, students may receive a small subsidy for therapy or investigative assessment (e.g. Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) assessment for speech impediment, psycho-educational testing for programming direction, etc.).

High Incidence Students

High Incidence students have been designated according to Ministry of Education guidelines, whether K: Mild Intellectual Disabilities, P: Gifted, Q: Learning Disabilities, or R: Students Requiring Behaviour Support or Students with Mental Illness. While these designations do not receive additional funding support from the Ministry, these students may need significant support.

These students typically remain with their teacher but are transferred from the LSC to the LS Regional Administrator (RA) in order to receive graduated support. The LS RA ensures an IEP is in place; students may also receive a subsidy through the LS Department to meet their needs.

Tier 3: Low Incidence Special Education (SE) Students

Special Educations (SE) students with an A-H (funded) category designations comprise approximately five percent of a student population. These students are placed on an SE teacher’s caseload and receive a substantial needs-based student budget to meet their proposed IEP goals.

Programs, Admissions, and Delivery

Learning Services (LS) Support

Our Learning Services (LS) team works to equip teachers to serve the needs of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 students.

Internal Admission

To provide equitable access to all students, teachers should confirm student learning needs with an LS Consultant (LSC), and, if further intervention is needed, recommend the LS Referral process to the family. The parent and/or teacher then submits the LS Referral Form to the LS team, who upon review, continues to assess the need through screening assessments (numeracy and literacy achievement, and cognitive skills).

Program and Delivery

HCOS provides LS/SE students with teacher-directed individualized programs comprised of a combination of in-house resources and community-based professional support. Teachers who have an LS student on their caseload are encouraged to attend monthly one-to-one sessions with their LSC. Consultations offer practical support for individualized LS/SE related strategies, adaptations, modifications, resources, screening and/or programming assessments, appointments/therapies, and IEP creation. LS consultants draw from experience, research and professional development, and from the various LS/SE resources available through our Learning Commons (library). 

Designated Special Education Support

Special Education (SE) teachers work with Tier 3 students, directing programs to meet the educational needs of students in collaboration the student's IEP team, which includes parents/guardians, education assistants, and community-based professionals.

External Admission

  1. HCOS conducts three program intakes annually: September, February, and May/June (i.e., pre-approval for the following school year).
  2. To indicate interest, the parent fills out the HCOS application for Distributed Learning Enrolment at the HCOS website.(NOTE: Only Enrolled students receive assistance from our HCOS SE program; “Registered" students do not).
  3. The SE Regional Administrator (RA) calls parent to discuss Distributed Learning (DL) and Special Education (SE) program requirements, SE funded categories, and documentation necessary for HCOS to apply for supplemental funding.
  4. If both the parent and SE RA agree that HCOS is a good fit for the family, and a teacher is available in the region, then the SE student is conditionally accepted.
  5. After the HCOS SE Office has received all supporting documentation from the parent and the SE administration is able to approve an SE category designation, then the student is accepted into the SE program.
  6. The SE teacher contacts the family to set up the first home visit and begin Individual Education Plan (IEP) collaboration and programming. There will be a minimum of four home visits throughout the school year.

Program and Delivery

The IEP is key to understanding individualized programming and delivery of support services to each SE designated student. Generally, the SE teacher directs the learning program through weekly communication with the parent, a minimum of four home visits a year to assess IEP goals and gather/observe samples and progress, weekly communication with education assistants (EAs), at least one progress report a year from third party professionals, and if the student is old enough, direct communication with the student. SE teachers may also connect with their students and SE families locally through HCOS Learning Group options, online through SE Immersive Technologies (SE IMT), etc.

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