By Samantha Cantelon
Queen’s University is conducting a program for local students in Grade 7 with learning disabilities, which helps them make a successful transition to secondary school and beyond.
Participating schools in Belleville are St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Michael Catholic School.
Claire Notman, success co-ordinator at Queen’s University said, “we hope to reach as many kids in need as we can to help make transitioning to high school easier.”
“The Grade 8 transitions program gives children with reading or writing learning disabilities the chance to have an updated psychoeducational assessment,” said Notman.
A psychoeducational assessment tests the student’s intellectual achievements through math, writing and reading. From these test results, teachers will be able to understand where the students are having problems, and the school will be able to create an appropriate individual education plan for the child’s success into high school and higher education.
Melanie Clair, a resource teacher at St. Michael Catholic School in Belleville said, “after elementary school, it is common for learning disabilities to affect students’ reading and writing.”
This is St. Michael’s second year with students participating in the Queen’s program.
“It helps the students keep on track,” Clair said.
According to Statistics Canada, 44 per cent or 68,000 of all Canadian children reporting disabilities live in Ontario.
In the most recent study of Canadian children between five and 14 years old, a total of 155,000 had some form of activity limitation. Out of those 155,000 children with disabilities, 38 per cent are receiving special education services. Approximately 39 per cent of parents indicated that they could not access special education services because these services were not available locally.
The program takes around 32 students and usually starts in September.
“We try to see as many students as we can before the end of the year,” said Notman.
All of the testing is done at Queen’s in Kingston in the regional assessment and resource centre.
“I know schools do all they can to help students transition from elementary to secondary school,” said Notman. “As more and more students are diagnosed with learning disabilities and other exceptionalities, the job becomes much bigger and I know special education and student support teachers are overloaded already. I do feel their needs to be more support for these students and their parents. In cooperation with the school boards we are trying to help close that gap.”