FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – DECEMBER 6, 2011
ABC Ontario Survey Reveals Disparities in Gifted Programming Across School Boards in Ontario
The Association for Bright Children of Ontario (ABC Ontario) recently conducted a survey that reviewed the identification process and programming for gifted students across 62 school boards in Ontario. This survey was produced as a result of consultation with concerned parents over issues surrounding the identification process and support for gifted students in the province. The optimal outcome of the data was to provide a clear picture of how to advance best learning practices for this group of special needs students. ABC Ontario applauds the open and transparent effort of the individual school boards in supporting the data gathering, and their efforts in meeting the needs of gifted students.
The Province of Ontario currently mandates that each school board administer special needs requirements as outlined by the Ministry of Education based on their specific student population. Surprisingly, the survey revealed that 35% of Ontario school boards do not actively seek out and identify gifted students. Moreover, five of the participating 62 school boards reported that they had no specific programming options for their gifted population. ABC Ontario is concerned by this gap and its consequent impact on the social and emotional development of these special needs students. A copy of the full report may be accessed at here:
The data clearly demonstrate that there is a wide variation in determining and supporting gifted students in Ontario. The report further reveals that services, policies and support are inconsistent and are not standardized across the province. ABC Ontario is optimistic that this report will create a dialogue among school boards, parents, educators and legislators toward a consistently applied policy for all gifted students in Ontario. ABC Ontario recommends that equal access to gifted programming and services become a guiding principle that all school boards strive toward. To this end, the survey results have compelled ABC Ontario to make the following recommendations.
1) ABC Ontario recommends that all school boards develop an active identification procedure that reflects best practices. Identification should be a fundamental element of any program that supports the needs of high achieving and gifted learners.
2) ABC Ontario recommends that school boards allow for automatic recognition of a child’s exceptionality if identification has already been established by an alternate school board. The identification process involves a psycho-educational analysis of the child’s ability coupled with a stringent IPRC (Identification, Placement and Review Committee) process. ABC Ontario encourages legislators to consider the frustration students and their families experience when required to resubmit to the same identification process. Savings would be realized and scarce Special Education resources would become less strained if school boards were to permit automatic recognition for identified gifted students who are transitioning between boards.
About ABC Ontario
The Association for Bright Children of Ontario is an all-volunteer, registered charity. It is a provincially incorporated support and advocacy group, with many chapters across Ontario and for the last 28 years has been dedicated to providing information and support to parents of bright and gifted children and adolescents through newsletters, networking, an annual conference and local workshops. It offers the parents' voice to local school boards, educators, professional groups and the Ontario Ministry of Education.