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MINISTER'S DIRECTIVE NO. MD 2001-08 Special Education

Supersedes Minister's Directive No. MD 97-07

Pursuant to section 8 and 51 of the School Act R.S.P.E.I. 1988, Cap. S-2.1, I hereby issue the following Minister's Directive concerning Special Education:

  1. In this directive:

    1. "Special Education" means programming and/or services designed to accommodate students within the public school system whose educational needs require interventions different from, or in addition to, those which are needed by most students. Assessments of students are the basis for determining appropriate special education programs and services. These programs and services may involve the use of adapted or modified curriculum, materials and facilities, and/or alternative methodologies, and/or additional assistance from student support staff within school settings.
    2. "Special educational needs" refers to:
      1. educational needs of students where there is substantive normative agreement -- such as blind and partially sighted, deaf and partially hearing, severe and profound mental handicap, multiple handicaps.
      2. educational needs of students who have significant difficulties in learning which do not appear to be attributable to (i) or (iii).
      3. educational needs of children which are significant and are considered to arise primarily from socio-economic, cultural and/or linguistic factors.
    3. "Continuum of Support" is a range of programs, settings, materials and services of additional or alternate curriculum, adaptations or modifications, changes in teaching methodology and/or evaluation and/or support from school staff that accommodate various levels of support within public schools for students with assessed special educational needs.
    4. "Student record" means a collection of information directly related to a student and maintained by a school board in paper, electronic or other form.
    5. "Assessment" is a systematic process of gathering information from many sources in order to make appropriate educational decisions for a student. It is a collaborative and progressive process designed to identify the student's strengths and needs, and which results in the identification and implementation of strategies to assist educational planning for the student.
    6. "Individualized Education Plan (IEP)" is a written record that documents the collaborative process for the development of an individualized plan for a student with special educational needs. This planning is a continuous and integrated process of instruction, assessment, evaluation, decision-making and reporting. The IEP outlines support services and educational program adaptations and/or modifications.
    7. "School-Based Student Services Team" is an on-going collaborative team that has a specific role to play as a problem-solving unit in assisting classroom teachers to develop and implement instructional and/or management strategies and to co-ordinate support resources for students with special educational needs within the school.
    8. "Transition" is the passage of a student from one environment to another at key points in his or her development from childhood to adulthood.
    9. "Inclusionary practice" is the value system which holds that all students are entitled to equitable access to learning, achievement and the pursuit of excellence in their education. The practice of inclusion transcends the idea of physical location, and incorporates basic values that promote participation, friendship and belonging.
    10. "School profile" is a compilation of information providing an annual record of the programs and services required to meet the special educational needs of students within a school. It includes current student status, assessments, nature of difficulties, and present and proposed interventions as well as a listing of outside agencies involved.

Part 1: Provision of a Continuum of Support

A continuum of support services will be implemented according to Department of Education standards, policies, procedures and guidelines in order to assist students with special educational needs achieve learning outcomes. This continuum of support services will be based on the philosophy of inclusionary practices.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The Department of Education has the responsibility to set policies for the provision of special education and to define the applicable goals, standards, guidelines and priorities for students with special educational needs. Specifically, the department shall:

    • implement policy directions of the Government and the Minister of Education;
    • define the standards and write the necessary policies, procedures, and guidelines applicable to the financial administration and provision of special education programs and student services;
    • maintain a database (including students enrolled, nature of difficulties, funding, and special education personnel) in order to inform policy development and plan special education programs and services;
    • provide and maintain a Standing Committee on Special Education and Student Services to advise the Department of Education on issues related to special education and student services;
    • establish guidelines for allocation of student support personnel and allocate staffing units to school boards;
    • provide, in collaboration with other government departments, school boards and agencies, comprehensive support for students with special educational needs to be delivered within public schools;
    • research and assess changing needs, trends and approaches in special education and develop and implement strategic plans;
    • approve educational programs and supplementary and/or specialized instructional resources and services delivered in the school for students with special educational needs;
    • develop criteria, guidelines and procedures for the provision and use of a range of support and/or specialized resources and services in the school; and
    • establish and maintain a student services handbook outlining the directives, policies and guidelines applicable to special education and student services in the school.
  2. A school board has the responsibility to determine the placement of students in the school and to make provision for instruction in an educational program to all students who are enrolled in its schools. In accordance with department regulations, directives and guidelines, the School Board shall:

    • place students in the school environment that is the most enabling and that allows opportunities for them to interact with their peers;
    • implement policies and establish procedures for student support services in the school;
    • ensure the establishment and maintenance of Student Services Teams at the school board and school levels;
    • ensure the development of Individual Education Plans and transition planning for students with special educational needs in public schools;
    • provide consultative services to in-school Student Services Teams;
    • gather information, assess needs and allocate resources to schools;
    • ensure equitable access to a continuum of support resources in the school for students with special educational needs;
    • establish written procedures regarding the storage, retrieval and appropriate use of student records;
    • ensure that schools under its jurisdiction establish and maintain a record for each student enrolled in special education at the school; and
    • provide, in collaboration with government departments and other agencies, support in school for students with special educational needs.
  3. Under the direction and leadership of the principal and subject to department and board guidelines and policies, the school shall:

    • establish and maintain a Student Services Team;
    • provide special education programming and services in its school for students with special educational needs that are consistent with the programs and services approved by the department and the school board;
    • maintain a record of each student in accordance with the regulations and school board policies;
    • develop Individual Education Plans when required;
    • implement a transition planning process and include details of the plan within the student's I.E.P.;
    • seek the collaboration of parents in the development and implementation of the I.E.P. in a timely and supportive manner;
    • gather information, assess needs and allocate resources within the school;
    • annually prepare and submit to the school board school profiles of its students with special educational needs; and
    • attend meetings called by the Board and collaborate with parents, Board personnel and outside agencies to provide support within school settings for students with special educational needs.

Part 2: Assessment/Intervention

A process will be established to ensure that students with special educational needs are identified and appropriate interventions are implemented and reviewed.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The Department of Education, through the School Act, has the responsibility to establish outcomes and standards of performance and assess the extent to which outcomes are achieved and standards are met. The School Act enables the department to prescribe policies respecting the assessment and evaluation of students. Specifically, the department shall:

    • establish guidelines for a pre-referral process;
    • establish guidelines for the referral process;
    • set standards and guidelines for assessment of students with special educational needs;
    • provide consultative and direct services for low-incidence populations.
  2. A school board, in carrying out its responsibilities under the School Act, and subject to department regulations, directives and guidelines, may develop policies respecting the educational assessment of students. Specifically, the school board shall:

    • implement the pre-referral process according to the guidelines established by the Department of Education;
    • implement the referral process according to the guidelines established by the Department of Education;
    • implement the standards to ensure consistency in reporting and documenting assessments according to standards and guidelines established by the Department of Education;
    • promote an effective consultation model and provide opportunities for collaboration; and
    • review and respond to requests for student support services and/or resources by school personnel.
  3. Under the supervision and leadership of the principal and subject to department and board policies, the school shall:

    • establish and implement procedures to support collaborative consultation and planning.
    • consult with parents regarding assessment of their child's needs, programs and supports.
    • complete the pre-referral process based on observations, discussions, and informal assessments by the classroom teacher;
    • initiate the referral process when required;
    • identify and implement appropriate interventions;
    • establish and maintain a written record of assessments and interventions carried out by the school and, within the provisions of the School Act, share this information with parents/guardians, the student (where appropriate), staff and, when necessary, Board/department personnel.

Part 3: Accountability

An accountability framework is required to evaluate the effectiveness of special education programming and services, to determine if special education is receiving sufficient and appropriate funding, to ensure efficient use of special education resources within public schools, and to guide decision making.

Role and Responsibilities

  1. The Minister, through the Department of Education, has the responsibility to establish an accountability framework for the school system. The Department of Education shall:

    • establish a funding protocol, within the overall funding framework, that builds the capacity to deliver, within public schools, a continuum of supports based on inclusionary, evidence-based practices;
    • review and monitor special education and student services programs and services provided in public schools to students with special educational needs;
    • review and monitor school board resource allocation (material and personnel) to ensure that the resources are used appropriately, effectively and efficiently within public schools in order to support the philosophy of inclusionary practice;
    • establish and maintain procedures for evaluation and revision of special education programming and services delivered within public schools;
    • communicate results from the evaluation process to stakeholders;
    • consult with education partners to identify staff development needs, establish priorities for professional development and coordinate and provide professional development and in-service activities that enhance the delivery of special education;
    • establish desired qualification standards for student services personnel; and
    • establish guidelines, within the provisions of the School Act, for a dispute resolution procedure.
  2. According to the School Act, the school board is responsible for delivering the provincial curriculum through effective programs, instruction and services within its schools, the management of the schools in its unit and for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of schools. The school board shall:

    • ensure the departmental policies and guidelines are implemented in the planning, documentation and delivery of student support services in its schools;
    • report to the department on the utilization of staffing allocations for special education;
    • ensure that personnel assigned to special education have met department standards of qualification, relevant experience and appropriate training;
    • ensure that special education staffing needs are addressed in the recruitment and deployment of staff;
    • monitor and evaluate the delivery of special education programs and services within schools;
    • identify and assist in the provision of professional development and in-service activities, consistent with provincial priorities and guidelines, to enhance the delivery of programs and services to students within its schools.
  3. Pursuant to department and board policies and under the direction and leadership of the principal, the school shall:

    • adhere to departmental and board guidelines in the assignment of special education personnel;
    • provide information to the school board on the utilization of special education staffing allocations and student information required by the School Board or department;
    • support and encourage professional development of staff;
    • maintain liaison with students who are temporarily placed in alternate schools maintained by the school board or department.
    • consult with parents regarding students' progress.

DATED at Charlottetown, October 26, 2001.

Jeffrey Lantz


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