2010 Provincial Report Card: ADHD in the School System

Glossary of Terms:


Identification: Identification as an exceptional student opens the pathway for receiving rights to accommodations, adaptations and modification for a disability.


Inclusive Education: A system that offers students accommodations, adaptations and modifications without an official system of identification as an exceptional student.


Inclusive Educational Model: Students are serviced in a regular classroom setting.


ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the current name for what used to be called ADD and ADHD. There are three subcategories, Primarily Inattentive (formerly ADD), Primarily Hyperactive (extremely rare) and Combined, having all three symptoms, difficulty regulating attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity


LD: Learning Disability


Modifications: Generally used to note modifications to the student's curriculum (curricular modifications), but some provinces also use the term to describe classroom modifications


Accommodations, Adaptations: Changes to the environment, teaching process or process used to evaluate a student's performance meant to reduce the effect of the disability. There is no change in curriculum or expectations of students.


IEP: Individual Education Plan – also known as;

SEP: Special Education Plan

IPP: Individualized Program Plan

SSP: Student Support Plan

ISSP: Individual Support Services Plan

All provinces, except for Ontario and one Territory graciously responded to our request for a conference call. Although we received letters acknowledging receipt of our policy paper from the Ministries of Ontario and the Yukon, a meeting did not occur. The Yukon Ministry representative offered to speak to us, however frequent attempts to contact her failed. A face to face meetings and correspondence occurred with the Ministry of Ontario prior to 2010.



Description of System

Strengths / Potential

Weaknesses / Concerns





ALBERTA

Grade: Good

Current Identification System

Presently students with the diagnosis of ADHD are usually reported using Code 58 Medical Disability (mild/moderate), however some are also reported under code 54 Learning Disability.

Funding for special education is provided to school boards.

Recently (2006) a resource on ADHD was published for educators.

Proposed “Made in Alberta Inclusive Education System”

A shift from a dual system of mainstream education and special education to a system that takes responsibility for all students has been proposed. The emphasis will shift from special education programs to achieving outcomes for all students.

Students will have equitable opportunity to be included in the typical learning environment or program of their choice. Inclusion means students will be included in the greater school community, not necessarily placed in a regular classroom.

Strengths

Having ADHD identified under the “Medical” category allows students to receive accommodations and recognizes ADHD as the medical condition that it is.

Potential

Flagged designated successes with review can lead to constantly improving accommodations.


Concerns

If the official designation process is withdrawn, some legal documentation of a disability should remain to ensure the student's legal rights to access of accommodations.








BRITISH COLUMBIA

Grade: Unsatisfactory/Fail

Identification System

ADHD by itself can not determine the appropriate special needs category.

There are twelve categories of identification. Students with ADHD may be reported under any category, depending upon the intensity of the disability, but are most often reported under the categories of, learning disabilities, moderate behaviour supports/mental illness or intensive behavioural interventions / serious mental illness depending on their needs.

However, students with ADHD must be able to fit into the definitions of these categories to meet the criteria.

For moderate behaviour support needs, the criteria for reporting includes demonstration of behaviours such as aggression (of a physical, emotional or sexual nature) and/or hyperactivity.




Strengths

Some students who have additional coexisting disorders, can be identified under the category that applies to that disorder.






Weaknesses

If the student with ADHD does not have a coexisting Learning Disability or does not display significant disruptive behaviour, they will not be identified.

Students with ADHD and no diagnosed LD may be excluded from receiving accommodations for their academic disabilities.

This lack of recognition encourages educators to believe that ADHD is not a legitimate disability.

Recognition under behaviour can lead to academic weaknesses not being addressed and the students being stigmatized.





MANITOBA

Grade: Satisfactory

Inclusive System

The belief base is that schools have an obligation to provide suitable programming required by the student.

There is no official identification process or funding categories. Funding levels are only tied to the severity of disability.

Documentation of individual needs, adaptations and accommodations need not be in an IEP format, but some documentation is required if the accommodations are on-going.

Students obtaining curricular modifications and special needs funding must have an IEP.












Strengths

A belief base of obligation to provide programming and lack of categories can be beneficial if it truly leads to the implementation of accommodations.




Concerns

Without an official designation process, some legal documentation of a disability should exist to ensure the student's legal rights to access accommodations.








NEW BRUNSWICK

Grade: Satisfactory

Identification System

ADHD is recognized under the “Behaviour” category regardless of the presentation of disruptive behaviour. This is currently under review.

An inclusive educational model exists.

No behavioural classes exist.

Implementation of universal accommodations, such as sound-field systems, extra time, and special seating, do not require an SEP

It is the Superintendent or his/her designate that is responsible for making the decision of exceptionality.

Strengths

Universal accommodations would allow educators to quickly put in place accommodations required by the student.

ADHD under the “Behaviour” category can lead to identification and access to accommodations.




Concerns

If education for teachers and adequate access to resources is not available teachers may be overwhelmed in the inclusive education model.

Recognition under behaviour can lead to academic weaknesses not being addressed and the students being stigmatized.





NEWFOUNDLAND-LABRADOR

Grade: Good

Identification System

ADHD is recognized as an exceptionality under the category, emotional, mental health, and/or behavioural disorder.

A students whose ADHD has been diagnosed by, and is under the continuous care, of a mental health professional, and for whom the disorder is affecting his/her ability to function will be considered to have an exceptionality.

Identification leads to resources/services rather than funding. The level of supports is geared to the student's needs.

Students with ADHD may receive programming supports within any of the Pathways, depending on other needs.

Students with ADHD are identified under four different codes:

1. ADHD with LD receiving only accommodations

2. ADHD without LD receiving only accommodations

3. ADHD and LD receiving multiple pathways.

4. ADHD without LD receiving multiple pathways

The Ministry is moving towards a more flexible inclusive model to allow for earlier intervention.






Strengths

The recognition of ADHD under “Mental Health” leads to a greater understanding of ADHD as a legitimate disability.

Various codes and pathways allow students with ADHD to be identified for a possible combinations of disorders as well as the level of accommodations they require.

Potential

The possibility of earlier intervention would be a benefit.

Concerns

If moving towards a more flexible inclusive model of early intervention, it will be important to ensure that some official documentation of a disability exists to ensure legal rights to on-going accommodations.

Identification under the behaviour category alone would be discouraged.





NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Grade: Satisfactory with concerns

Inclusive System

District Education Councils/Authorities (DEC/A) (equivalent to a school board) are charged (empowered) in providing the resources and accommodations the students require with the “block” funding for inclusive schooling that the Ministry provides.

Students with needs would receive either an IEP or SSP. Most students with ADHD would receive an SSP that would outline the accommodations and adaptations. Accommodations would have to be documented for the student to receive them.

IEPs are reserved for low incidence disabilities that require the school to move beyond normal curriculum outcomes.

A school team would decide whether a student would receive an SSP.

Strengths

A belief base of obligation to provide programming and lack of categories can be beneficial if it truly leads to the implementation of accommodations.




Concerns

Without an official designation process, some legal documentation of a disability should exist to ensure the student's legal rights to access accommodations.

When the decision of the need for an SSP rests with the school team, up-to-date knowledge of the disorder is imperative because ADHD behaviours can be misinterpreted as intentional and not stemming from a need or disability.





NOVA SCOTIA

Grade: Satisfactory

Inclusive System

Nova Scotia does not have categorized funding, however, exceptionalities are identified for which funding can be applied. ADHD falls within these categories.

Classroom teachers may develop and implement adaptations for students but a program plan team meeting may be needed if the student's needs are not being met through adaptations. When it is determined that an Individual Program Plan (IPP) is required, it has annual individualized outcomes.

The Special Education Policy was updated in 2008. Reviews in 2001 and 2007 identified the need for additional funding and teacher education.

Strengths

Categories are only applied for additional funding purposes. ADHD falls within these categories.

Input from outside specialists and parents is allowed in the program planing process.








Concerns

Without an official designation process, some legal documentation of a disability should exist to ensure the student's legal rights to access accommodations.






ONTARIO

Grade: Unsatisfactory/Fail

Identification System

Five categories of exceptionality exist, however students with ADHD can be identified under the categories of “Behaviour”, “Communication” or “Physical” only if an additional disability qualifies them as meeting the definition of that category.

The “Behaviour” category is only used if the student's behaviour is significantly disruptive.

Some school boards allow IEPs for students who are not identified as exceptional, however others do not.

IEPs are considered legal documents, however without being tied to an official identification they can be removed by the school at any time.

Strengths

Some students who have additional coexisting disorders can be identified under those disorders.

There is the possibility of an IEP in some boards, however if and how long it remains in place is at the discretion of the school.




Weaknesses

If the student with ADHD does not have a coexisting Learning Disability or displays significant disruptive behaviour, they will not be identified.

This means students with ADHD will be excluded from receiving accommodations for their disability.

This lack of recognition encourages educators to believe that ADHD is not a legitimate disability.

Recognition under behaviour can lead to academic weaknesses not being addressed and students being stigmatized.

There is no consistency or equity built into the system.





PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Grade: Satisfactory with concerns

Inclusive System

An inclusive system with a continuum of appropriate support exists. Resources and funding are not contingent on diagnosis, but rather on the special educational needs of the student.

Schools can be alerted to possible requirement of special needs by the physician's diagnosis, but it is the school team working with the student who will decide if an IEP is required.

Schools are encouraged to take ownership of all students' needs and educational success.

School-based service teams decide on the need for and level of adaptations (accommodations) and modifications.


Strengths

Identification not being tied to resources and funding would allow students with ADHD to receive special education services.




Concerns

Without an official designation process, some legal documentation of a disability should exist to ensure the student's legal rights to access accommodations.

When the decision of the level of need and adaptations required rests with the school team, up-to-date knowledge of the disorder is imperative because ADHD behaviours can be misinterpreted as intentional and not stemming from a need or disability.





QUEBEC

Grade: Unsatisfactory/Fail

Identification System

There are two ways that students with special education needs can be labeled; “Coded” for a specific disability or deemed “At Risk”. Students with ADHD are only deemed “At Risk” and are not recognized as having a disability or impairment.

Students with ADHD in the "At Risk" category can receive an IEP.

The content of the IEP is discussed at a meeting. The school's principal, teachers, professionals, parents and sometimes the student are all invited to attend.

The “Behaviour” category is not used for ADHD.


Strengths

Some students with ADHD may be able to receive an IEP.




Weaknesses

Students with ADHD and no additional disorder will not be identified as having a disability.

When the decision of the level of need and adaptations required rests with the school team, up-to-date knowledge of the disorder is imperative because ADHD behaviours can be misinterpreted as intentional and not stemming from a need or disability.

This lack of recognition can lead to educators not recognizing ADHD as a legitimate disability.





SASKATCHEWAN

Grade: Good

Identification System

Students no longer require a medical diagnosis to qualify for intensive supports. A previous list of five low incidence categories was increased to twelve, including another (diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions) category in order to ensure the inclusion of students.

There is no Behaviour category, but a Mental Health impairment category exists.

ADHD is identified under the Categories of “Other: diagnosed disorders” and Other: undiagnosed disorders”.

The criteria also states that the required level of supports from the school team, the school division team and an interagency team are accessed to support the child.

Strengths

An increase of categories to ensure the number of disabilities that could be included has provided the possibility that students with ADHD to be recognized.

Not having a behaviour category ensures that ADHD will not be identified under this misleading category.


Concerns

The required documentation of school performance needing to be adversely affected may lead to brighter students not receiving accommodations for their disability.