6. The experience of students and families | Ontario Human Rights Commission – Ontario Human Rights Commission |

Warning: This section deals with topics that may cause trauma to some readers. It includes references to bullying, emotional and physical abuse, mental health challenges, self-harm and suicide. Please engage in self-care as you read this material. There are many resources available if you require additional support, including on the OHRC website under List of supports.
 
Children are inherently vulnerable. They depend highly on others to satisfy their basic needs and make decisions for their physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. This is even more true for children who start life facing societal barriers – whether poverty, low parental education, racism and/or ableism.[413]
When addressing reading disabilities, experts say “there is not a knowledge gap…but an action gap.”[414] With effective instruction approaches, most students can learn to read proficiently. Providing science-based instruction and early intervention to students who struggle to learn to read sets them up for future success in academics, employment and life.
Most subjects in school require reading to access the material, so the ability to read is key to future learning. However, when schools do not provide effective, evidence-based instruction and interventions, children fall further behind in school and may suffer lifelong negative consequences.
Because of structural inequality, Black and other racialized children, First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, English language learners[415] or children who live in poverty may face extra barriers. They may be at risk for reading difficulties, and their parents do not always have the same access to resources as more advantaged parents.[416] These students may rely heavily on a public education system to prevent or alleviate achievement gaps.
Students with reading difficulties, and their parents/guardians, provided information to the inquiry on avoiding school, stereotyping, self-esteem, mental health effects, low expectations by schools, and lifelong consequences. Parents also reported impacts on the family related to finances, mental health effects, navigating the school system and family relationships. Besides being felt in families, these impacts have additional costs to society as a whole.
The inquiry received 1,425 surveys from students, parents and guardians. It was evident that individuals spent a major amount of time – sometimes hours – completing their responses while juggling the many demands in their lives. The inquiry also heard from around 100 presenters at public hearings and community meetings. Presenters ranged in age from nine to 84.
It takes courage, time and energy for people to share their experiences whether in writing or in person. The OHRC is grateful to everyone who shared their experiences and contributed to the findings of this report.
This section draws from the OHRC’s public hearings, community meetings and student/parent surveys.
The word “supports” is used broadly in this section and throughout the report to include additional instruction, intervention and accommodations.
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Surveys were completed primarily by parents on behalf of a student (96%), and some parents included quotes or submissions from the student. A small portion (4%) of current and former students completed the survey about their own experiences.
This section also briefly discusses some of the limitations of the inquiry’s survey and what the OHRC did to address these concerns. See section 3, Methodology for more discussion on survey limitations.
 
This section provides a general overview of the characteristics of students who either had a survey completed on their behalf or completed their own survey.
Table 6 offers a snapshot of student demographic information from the survey.
 
Table 6: Profile of students as reported by survey respondents
Age (in years)
Average
12
Median
11
Mode
9
Average grade
Grade 6
Gender[417]
Boy/man
59%
Girl/woman
40%
Transgender boy/man
0.1%
Transgender girl/woman
0.2%
Other (non-binary, gender fluid, two-spirit, etc.)
0.2%
Questioning
0.1%
Prefer not to answer
1%
School system
English public
69%
English Catholic
19%
Private school
4%
French Catholic
4%
French public
2%
Provincial/demonstration
1%
Enrollment in school
 
Currently in school
90%
Graduated with an OSSD
8%
Not in school and did not receive an OSSD
2%
Reading disability[418]
 
Yes
80%
Possibly
13%
No
4%
Unknown
2%
Family member has a reading disability
46%
Reading disability and another disability[419]
 
Yes
53%
Possibly
7%
No
36%
Unknown
4%
Country of origin
 
Born in Canada
96%
Other[420]
4%
First language learned at home
 
English
92%
French
3.5%
Other[421]
4.5%
English language learner (identified by school)
 
Yes
25%
No
71%
Unknown
4%
Race[422]
 
White 
83.5%
Other[423]
3.4%
Black
2.6%
First Nations
1.8%
Latino
1.7%
Middle Eastern
1.6%
South Asian
1.6%
East Asian
1.5%
Métis
1.3%
Southeast Asian
0.7%
Inuk/Inuit
0%
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Most survey respondents did not represent families from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds. They were mostly White and wealthier and more educated than the average Ontarian. Table 7 shows demographic information about survey respondents based on race, family income and education level.
Students were more representative of Ontarians (9.7% racialized) than the respondents who completed surveys on their behalf (6.5% racialized).
 
Table 7: Race/ancestry of students and survey respondents[424]
 
Race of respondent
Ontario population
White 
88.0%
70.7%[425]
Black
1.3%
4.7%
First Nations
1.3%
1.8%
Latino
1.4%
1.5%
Middle Eastern
1.3%
2.8%[426]
South Asian
1.5%
8.7%
East Asian
0.8%
6.6%[427]
Métis
0.9%
0.9%
Southeast Asian
0.2%
3.4%[428]
Inuk/Inuit
0%
0%[429]
Other[430]
2.9%
N/A
Most respondents (57%) reported a household income of over $100,000 before taxes in 2018. This is well above the median total income of $74,600 for Ontarians in 2018.[431]
 
Table 8: Income of survey respondents (before taxes in 2018)
Less than $25,000
2%
$25,000 to $35,000
2%
$35,000 to $50,000
4%
$50,000 to $75,000
7%
$75,000 to $100,000
14%
$100,000 to 150,000
22%
More than $150,000
35%
Prefer not to say
14%
 
Respondents were more educated than the average Ontarian; 88% of survey respondents completed a post-secondary degree or diploma compared to the Ontario percentage of 55%.[432]
 
Table 9: Highest level of education of respondents
Education level
Survey respondents
Ontario population
Elementary school
1.3%
17.5%[433]
Secondary school diploma (or its equivalent)
5.4%
27.4%
Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma
1.4%
6.0%
College diploma
20.5%
20.8%
Bachelor’s degree
34.3%
17.3%
Professional degree (law/medical degree)
11.5%
N/A
Master’s degree
16.8%
5.4%
Doctorate degree
3.5%
0.9%
Other[434]
5.3%
N/A
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Research suggests that White people with higher incomes and education are more likely to complete self-report surveys compared to racialized people and people with lower incomes and less education.[435]
Reasons for lower response rates for certain communities are unique to the circumstances of a given community. However, some communities share similar experiences of ongoing systemic discrimination and historical violence such as colonization, slavery, assimilation, criminalization, segregation and displacement. These social factors have a greater effect on First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Black communities today. These factors contribute to intergenerational trauma, breed distrust of public institutions, and undermine social and economic conditions for affected groups[436] – which can all influence survey response rates.
Families that lack financial resources often face barriers completing surveys and attending public meetings. These types of engagements require time, and families with less flexible work schedules and less time are at a disadvantage. One inquiry respondent noted: “I am doing my best as a single mother working full time and squeezing in the time to do this survey before getting some groceries and coming home to sleep.”
To reduce some of the barriers to completing a survey,[437] the OHRC allocated open-mic time during its public hearings, and held community meetings for attendees to share their experiences. The OHRC took steps to make sure presenters at public hearings represented the views of communities that face barriers to self-advocacy, such as refugees and children in care. The inquiry also included engagements with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Ontario. The OHRC was available to help people who were unable to complete a survey. Finally, the OHRC had a dedicated phone line and email account to receive submissions, stories and requests for assistance from the public. Some other in-person engagements were planned but cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although responses were not proportionate to Ontario’s population in terms of race and income level, the inquiry still heard from hundreds of people from intersecting Code-protected groups, who shared critical information and experiences. We have paid particular attention to these accounts and highlighted them throughout this section.
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The inquiry found overwhelming similarities in student and parent accounts. A common narrative emerged from surveys, submissions and presentations at community meetings and public hearings.
When schools do not provide evidence-based reading instruction, identify reading difficulties early and provide effective interventions, achievement gaps develop and grow. The window of opportunity closes and students with reading difficulties fall behind their peers. The system’s failure is downloaded to these students – they feel like they did something wrong or that something is wrong with them. This makes students vulnerable to school avoidance and oppositional behaviours, negative self-talk, bullying and other mental health disabilities.
As students move through the system, these burdens worsen. Educators may tend to blame the students’ abilities or potential, rather than blaming the education system. Students are streamed out of education opportunities and feel further isolated. Parents who were concerned about whether their child would catch up in elementary school are now worried about their child’s future and well-being after they graduate, or if they will even graduate.
This situation can be worse for students with intersecting identities. Students from some identity groups (racialized, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, low-income, multilingual, newcomers) face extra barriers and burdens.
Respondents who completed surveys about Black and/or First Nations, Métis, Inuit students disproportionately reported that race or ancestry had a negative or somewhat negative impact on the student’s school experience related to their reading disability.
 
Table 10: Race/ancestry and negative impact on school experience
Black
52%
First Nations
39%
South Asian
30%
Southeast Asian
18%
East Asian
18%
Métis
17%
Middle Eastern
7%
Latino
8%
White
2%
Survey respondents with lower incomes also noted that their socio-economic status had a negative or somewhat negative impact on the student’s school experience related to their reading disability.
 
Table 11: Income and negative impact on school experience
Less than $25,000
41%
$25,000 to $35,000
58%
$35,000 to $50,000
30%
$50,000 to $75,000
23%
$75,000 to $100,000
16%
$100,000 to 150,000
7%
More than $150,000
8%
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Students with reading difficulties can experience school-related stress for many reasons. Research shows that from an early age, children can recognize what appears to come easily to their peers, is difficult for them.[438]
In reading, these differences can be quite obvious. Reading is an important and widespread skill in society. Learning to read is a primary objective in elementary school and an essential step to building skills and knowledge in many domains. It is necessary for everyday life, whether reading print on paper and street signs, or digital text on screens.
Repeated failure, despite working hard, can lead to negative feelings such as frustration, anger, sadness, worry and fear. These feelings make students vulnerable to low self-esteem and other problems at school, such as lack of academic motivation.[439] Students may feel they have also let down others, like parents and teachers.
Students react or cope with this stress in different ways. Some may react to stress outwardly – by being oppositional (pretending not to care, not listening or following rules, acting up in class) or through aggressive behaviour.[440] In the student/parent surveys, 8% of respondents reported student outbursts or behaviour challenges such as acting like the class clown, constant fidgeting, screaming, or exhibiting rage, anger or violence.
Some students may internalize the stress. This can show in school avoidance, withdrawal, anxiety, depression and somatic experiences (body aches).[441] In the student/parent survey, 9% of respondents reported school avoidance tendencies such as running away from school, often going to the bathroom, causing outbursts to avoid going to school, and complaining about head and stomach aches.
Students and parents also wrote about students withdrawing while in class, and 9% of students felt embarrassed because of their disability. These students hid their reading disability from classmates and attempted to avoid reading in public.
It is often not an either/or scenario – a student may withdraw and be oppositional at different times. One parent described her son’s range of behaviour as he progressed in his schooling:
[He] had regular meltdowns after school from Grade 1 from frustration and fatigue. In Grade 3, he came home and told me that he was the “dumbest and stupidest kid at [name of school].” He tends to act out to avoid doing work that is too difficult for him and so he is often in trouble at school. In Grade 5, he developed anxiety and a facial tic. In Grade 7, he would refuse to go to school or go and hide in the bathroom because he had so much anxiety. In Grade 8, he was purposely acting out so that he would be sent out of the classroom because he could not do the work. He said his dream was to be able to read and do the same work as the other students.
The inquiry also heard about the experience of school avoidance from the President of the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario:
Imagine an 8-year-old girl with school avoidance. It is very difficult to get her out of bed and ready for school in the mornings. Mom holds down a full-time job and has been late to work because of this. She has multiple somatic or body complaints which are symptoms of anxiety. She struggles to sleep at night –worried about school the next day and is tired throughout the school day. She struggles to read at a Grade 1 level and mom is given the names of psychologists in the community because she is told, no interventions can be put in place until they have a formal Individual Education Plan. The mom is told the school’s waiting list is at least two years to get an assessment. The mother is near to tears in my office and her voice is full of frustration and worry. How are they going to afford the expense of a psychological evaluation? These children experience poor self-confidence, will say things like “I’m stupid…why was I born,[”] and face ridicule by classmates.
Students desperately want to learn to read. However, when they are excluded academically and socially, they may protect themselves through avoidance to regain control and shield themselves from harm.[442] One parent noted:
My son’s apprehension about going to school is because of the lack of support in the classroom and the lack of proper reading instruction based on reading science, not because something is wrong with him.
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Students require a learning environment where they feel safe, to develop self-esteem and confidence.[443] However, this does not always exist for students with reading difficulties.
Students with learning disabilities, including reading disabilities, are at an increased risk of bullying and victimization.[444] This was evident in the survey responses, where 8% of students experienced bullying or teasing because of a reading disability.
The surveys included these examples of how students with reading difficulties are treated by their peers:
Surveys mentioned that students found it hard to make and keep friends. Even when students are not bullied, sometimes the fear of being singled out or “found out” can have an impact on the student. One student explained at a public hearing:
Now people look at me a bit funny…because…before I was diagnosed, everyone would make fun of the people with a Chromebook.[445] So I was really scared that I would be made fun of.
Educators want students to succeed, and most are doing their best to respond to their students’ needs in the classroom. However, sometimes educator behaviour negatively affects students. The inquiry heard about explicit negative attitudes from some educators. Examples included teachers singling out students in class, asking students to read in front of the class after finding out they had a reading disability, calling them “lazy,” “slow,” “stupid” or “dumb,” or telling students they did not take enough risks and exaggerated their difficulties. These stereotypes have a heavy emotional impact on students with reading difficulties. One survey respondent reported that a teacher told a student that he would be a “bum on the streets.”
Respondents also reported that some teachers refused to acknowledge the student’s reading disability, would not provide accommodations or discouraged using them because the student did not “deserve it,” and “punished” the student by taking away recess because the student did not complete work.
Sometimes negative stereotypes were less explicit but still detrimental. One former student, who is now in his seventies, still remembers his report card reading “Good child, having a lot of reading difficulties and won’t apply himself.” Survey responses from students currently in school similarly reported examples of being told that they do not apply themselves or try hard enough.
Consistent negative feedback from peers or educators has an adverse effect on mental health and can cause trauma for students. Some students and parents reported that they paid for counselling or therapy because of bullying and victimization. Bullying can also lower self-confidence, which has further negative impacts on learning. When a student is rejected by their peer group, it affects their sense of self, engagement in class and possibly their academic achievement. For example, one parent reported that bullying affected her child’s confidence in asking for help in the classroom.
Social isolation can also occur in indirect ways. The extra time that children with reading difficulties spend on their studies takes them away from socializing with friends, taking part in extra-curricular activities and athletics, or relaxing. One parent said: “My son went to school twice every day. Once at school and then again at home.” In survey responses, 14% of respondents reported social isolation such as loss of friends, time away from the classroom or after-school time spent at a private reading program instead of with friends and family.
Students who identify with other Code-protected grounds can experience more stereotyping. One parent reported that her son has experienced repeated bullying for his gender-fluid expression and his learning disabilities, which has increased his anxiety.
One parent of a racialized and First Nations student noted that “colonization and colonial stereotypes” had a negative impact on her son’s experience at school because of their intergenerational impacts:
If my son felt excited about going to school, if he excelled in reading and was respected by the education system for his diverse cultural background (and given reading material that reflected this diversity), and was taught structured literacy approaches based on reading science, I would not have to even think of writing this survey. I expect more than “lowered expectations” from teachers and the education system…My son’s ethnicity, Indigeneity and gender are things to be proud of and bring strength to him daily. Students need to see their ethnicity and Indigeneity reflected in their teachers, school staff, principals, trustees, the Ministry of Education, government, etc.
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Positive self-esteem and coping strategies are critical to learning and success in school. When students continue to fail at school, they question their academic abilities and feel inferior. The inquiry found that students with reading difficulties often reported low self-esteem.
In survey responses, 31% of respondents reported negative self-talk or low self-esteem. During public hearings, many students talked about feeling “dumb” or “stupid,” compared themselves to their classmates and could tell that the work they were given was well below the work assigned to peers. Parents reported that their children referred to themselves as “stupid/dumb” and believed that they cannot or will never be able to read.
Low expectations from educators can also affect a student’s self-image as a learner. One parent talked about how teachers had “pre-conceived glass ceilings for what [her daughter] would be able to achieve in their class” and how this negatively affected her daughter’s “thoughts about her abilities both scholastically as well as her hopes for the future.”
Many parents talked about the painful process of seeing their once “bubbly” or enthusiastic child develop feelings of low self-worth and struggle to find meaning in life. Parents talked about seeing their once happy, socially adaptable child who was eager to go to school now feeling stupid, struggling with self-worth and becoming “a shell” of themselves. One 12-year-old student wrote: “I want to be like the other kids but school breaks my spirit. I feel confused. I see every colour in gray.”
One parent explained the cumulative impact of going to school, where every day, you feel you do not belong and are not adequate:
Ten months of the year, five days a week, our son goes to a place where he feels like a failure. It’s a place that exhausts him because he has to work so much harder than neurotypical students to not even keep up. He has been called stupid by peers at school. That wears on his mental health and overall happiness. Not surprisingly, he is a completely different, far happier child during the summers.
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Low self-esteem makes students more vulnerable to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Almost six in 10 respondents (59%) reported student mental health challenges, including students experiencing depression, eating disorders, difficulty with emotional regulation such as anger management, sleep disturbance, trauma and/or anxiety including General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Separation Anxiety and Panic Disorder.[446]
Survey responses stressed the connection between mental health challenges and academic success. These challenges contributed to school avoidance tendencies, absenteeism and even dropping out of school.
Very young children were not immune to severe effects on their mental health. There were several accounts of students experiencing a mental health crisis in elementary school or experiencing anxiety as young as age five. There were accounts of young children thinking about suicide. Parents also reported that their children engaged in self-harming behaviours or attempted suicide. At a public hearing, the President of the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario related this account about attempted suicide:
When I was involved in in-patient child psychiatry, a young patient under the age of 10 was admitted because of an attempted suicide. The child had developed school refusal/avoidance, and was so worried about going to school that on the way to school the child attempted to jump out of the car on a busy express highway…We contacted the school to obtain the school reports and spoke with the school psychologist. The child was discharged and within a few weeks had a psychological assessment which showed a severe learning disorder. The school psychologist called me at my office…called to apologize…”the child had slipped through the cracks.”
Many respondents reported some relief from mental health issues once the reading disability was identified. In some cases, when students learned they had a reading disability, this self-knowledge motivated them to know that it was possible to catch up:
Once he was given the tools to manage the [learning disability], his behaviour, mental health and confidence has improved – which has helped the entire family.
Many surveys that noted mental health challenges also talked about accessing counselling services, but stressed that effective reading interventions were what made a significant difference. Evidence-based instruction in the classroom and early interventions will prevent mental health difficulties from developing in the first place. Also, once students with reading difficulties receive evidence-based instruction, intervention and support to learn to read, there should be improvements to their mental health.[447]
Students and parents who talked about successful interventions noted improvements to the student’s psychological well-being. They observed boosts to self-confidence, increased motivation, better self-regulation, decreased anxiety, and healthier self-esteem. One parent talked about the transformation in her son after he received a private evidence-based reading and language program:
He went from tantruming when asked to read a short levelled reader, to reading chapter books with a flashlight after bedtime. I can’t help but reflect on where he would still be, and the resultant impacts to his mental health and to our family, if we hadn’t been able to pay privately for what he needed.
The President of the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario also found this to be the case:
Many years ago, I had a patient who was being seen for mood and anxiety problems and suicidal threats. Eventually she received a diagnosis of dyslexia, and spent a very long time on the waiting list for the Orton Gillingham evidenced based reading and language program. After one year, her reading and language skills had improved so significantly that her self-confidence, mood symptoms improved and suicidal threats abated.
Effective interventions improve student achievement and mental health, and also improve family dynamics. Many parents talked about the improvements to student and family life when their child had effective interventions. One parent talked about how exciting it was to see her son “move from being a non-reader to loving reading and even reading to his younger siblings,” and “sharing with them strategies he was taught during his intervention” once he received an evidence-based intervention in school.
Evidence-based instruction and interventions and timely accommodation are essential for student and family well-being, and also reduce cost to the overall health-care system.[448] Still, students with reading difficulty will need access to appropriate mental health supports to help cope with their struggles in school. However, students who do not experience reading failure will rely less on mental health services, and students who receive effective interventions will need fewer ongoing services.
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The inquiry heard from students, parents and educators about a culture of low expectations. These are harmful because they can affect student self-esteem and mental health. As well, when schools routinely expect less from certain students, these expectations become normalized and can affect student outcomes. Low expectations can also prevent students from getting the support they need to learn to read.
Lower expectations can be compounded when students are also members of other Code-protected groups. Parents of Black students reported that their children were viewed differently or through a “deficit lens” because of institutional racism. Respondents also noted the lower expectations for boys, students whose parents were low-income or living with a disability and multilingual students.
Parents reported gendered assumptions about their children. Some parents reported that schools thought their son’s future would be “okay” because he was athletic. One parent reported that the school said “given he was a good-looking kid, he would be fine.” Many parents reported being told by educators that learning to read is delayed for boys, and they would “grow out” of their reading difficulties.
The inquiry heard examples of lowered expectations for students because of their parents’ disability and low socio-economic status. One guardian noted that the school was aware the student’s parents had low literacy, lived in social housing, lived with disabilities and received Ontario Disability Support Program income, and this factored into the school’s lower expectations for the student. The guardian reported that the student was misdiagnosed with a mild intellectual disability (MID), due to her father living with an MID. She was only reassessed in Grade 10 because the guardian insisted, and was found to have a reading disability and not MID. The student was also put on a pathway that would preclude her from graduating from high school or pursuing post-secondary education.
Educators reported seeing racialized students inappropriately identified with an MID when they really had a reading disability. Low expectations and ineffective approaches to reading instruction are harmful in different ways. They can create reading difficulties that could have been prevented with effective instruction. They can also result in under-identifying students for reading disabilities because of assumptions that difficulties are the student’s fault rather than a disability that needs to be addressed.
Objective assessments of foundational reading skills are essential for all students, but particularly for students who belong to Code-protected groups. Research shows that implicit bias, which stems from unconscious stereotyping, can affect teacher perception of student ability and performance, particularly for Black students, boys, students with special education needs (excluding gifted), students from less affluent neighbourhoods and single-parent households.[449]
Evidence-based screening, monitoring and interventions are therefore important measures to guard against implicit bias that creates lower expectations for certain students.
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Low expectations, false assumptions and cultural bias in widely used assessment measures and practices also have detrimental impacts for English language learners (ELL students), a term used in the education system for multilingual students who are learning the language of instruction at the same time as they are learning the curriculum.[450] Although multilingual learners are just as likely to have reading difficulties as other students,[451] this population has historically been either over- or under-identified.[452] Research shows that teachers have a difficult time identifying reading difficulties in children learning English as a second language.[453]
Students can be over-identified when educators and other professionals do not know how to recognize challenges associated with learning the language of instruction.[454] Research has also shown that bias and negative attitudes towards certain populations, such as Roma and Indigenous children, contribute to over-identifying for special education.[455]
Students can be under-identified when schools delay assessing them in the false belief that students must become proficient in English before they can be assessed for reading disabilities.[456] Delay can also happen because educators believe that reading difficulties are due to the student’s limited English skills or a different cultural background.[457]
Educator survey respondents reported similar trends. They reported that their schools assume that when multilingual students struggle with reading, it is because they have not been exposed to English, not because they have a reading difficulty. One educator noted: “It is initially assumed that if they are struggling to learn to read it is due to the [English language learner] status.” Schools sometimes operate on this assumption when there is evidence to the contrary. For example, one educator reported that students from Caribbean countries, who had received instruction in English and special education supports before immigrating to Canada, were treated as if their reading difficulties stemmed from being an English language learner.
These presumptions lead to delayed supports. Educator respondents reported that multilingual students are “under-served,” get “pushed back” in assessments and interventions, and do not receive supports until they have lived in Canada for a long time. One educator said:
I understand that learning another language could present itself as a reading problem when it isn’t; however, waiting a certain number of years to intervene means you have a child who is increasingly frustrated and missing an opportunity to be helped.
There is no scientific basis for waiting a certain number of years to provide evidence-based interventions or assess multilingual students for reading difficulties. Multilingual students should receive regular academic assessments and interventions for difficulties as soon as the need arises.[458]
EQAO data also shows a disparity in the level of documented support received by multilingual students compared to other students.[459] Table 12 shows that far fewer multilingual students have an IEP.
 
Table 12: Percentage of English language learners (ELL) with an IEP in 2019[460]
 
ELL
Non-ELL
Grade 3
9.5%
19%
Grade 6
12%
21%
Grade 10
7%
22%
With appropriate instruction, multilingual students can perform just as well as other students.[461] The recommendations in this report will benefit multilingual students equally if not more than students who speak English as a first language.[462]
The inquiry heard from a refugee advocate who talked about the unique challenges refugee children face in the education system. He referenced a 2012 study that discussed the lack of support for struggling Afghan boys in Toronto.[463] He stated that current approaches do not work for newcomer students with limited prior schooling:
There is currently no system to monitor and provide support for a newcomer child who struggles to keep up with their peers – by the time the “wait and see” strategy has played out, the child will have transitioned to middle school.
One educator respondent noted:
ELL students who have been through trauma (e.g. Syrian refugees) need more support in school. They have parents who are also traumatized and they are alone, separated from families, often at home with a new baby. School is very challenging for these ELL children.
 
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Low expectations can also factor into decisions about a student’s learning expectations and academic pathways.
Streaming has serious effects on student academics, mental health and employment. Streaming has disproportionate impacts on certain groups and is not applied to all groups of students equally. Perceptions about ability and potential can be influenced by normalized biases against students who are Black, First Nations Métis, Inuit, learning English, living with other disabilities or living in poverty.
The inquiry found that schools streamed students with reading difficulties by:
Consistent with other reports,[464] responses from the OHRC survey suggest that students from lower income families are more likely to be streamed. Lower-income respondents and respondents with lower levels of education mentioned streaming at a higher rate than other survey respondents.[465]
A significant number of students/parents from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board reported that students were streamed out of French Immersion. Parents consistently reported that they were discouraged from choosing or continuing French Immersion for their children because of their reading difficulties. Some were told that there would be no accommodations or support if the student enrolled or continued in French Immersion.
This meant that students had to switch schools, because many schools in Ottawa-Carleton are exclusively French or English. The switch changed their academic pathways and uprooted them from their friend network. Parents reported that this increased their children’s school avoidance tendencies and mental health difficulties, and created a feeling of displacement.
Parents also reported that they observed a much higher proportion of children with learning and behavioural needs, newcomers, children from low-income households and boys in the English versus French stream. One parent reported that “boys who struggled were encouraged to leave in large numbers.” She felt that had her son been a girl, there would have been more of an attempt to accommodate within French Immersion.
Parents talked about the disadvantage for their children with reading difficulties of not learning French in Ottawa, where French is a requirement for many jobs. Parents also said that there is a “two-tiered system” in Ottawa-Carleton schools, and students who are unable to learn French are relegated to a “lower tier.”
This lived experience is consistent with reports that have found that students at English-only schools tend to come from lower-income areas than students in schools that offer French Immersion.[466]
Negative assumptions about aptitude affect the education of students with reading disabilities and other disabilities. Some parents of students with reading and other disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, reported that their child’s placement in segregated classrooms or streaming into locally developed courses was not based on actual ability. One parent noted that students who do not use speech are presumed to be unable to use text in most schools and are not provided with reading supports.
ARCH Disability Law Centre’s submission to the inquiry reported similar themes that “attitudinal barriers and low expectations” affect the way students with disabilities are taught in the classroom and classroom placement decisions. Through targeted interviews, ARCH learned that children in segregated or special education classes are not receiving meaningful instruction or being taught to read. ARCH also found that expectations of student achievement are often based on assumptions and stereotypes about students with disabilities.
Disproportionate numbers of racialized students are in segregated or special education classes.[467] Some educator survey respondents reported seeing a higher proportion of Black students being streamed into behavioural classes[468] versus programs for students with learning disabilities or for gifted students. One educator expressed concern that these students, who may have a reading disability, were not receiving necessary interventions because of structural and individual biases.
Some survey respondents reported that their children were placed in the TDSB’s Home School Program (HSP). The HSP offers support from a special education teacher in the student’s home school and focuses on Language and Mathematics. Students spend half of their day in the program and the other half in an integrated classroom.[469]
One study showed that students who were racialized (particularly Black students), living in low-income areas and whose parents did not have post-secondary education were over-represented in the HSP.[470]
Other consultations with Black communities in the Greater Toronto Area have also reported concerns about streaming Black students into special education programs.[471]
Educator and parent respondents from Toronto and Brampton wondered whether segregated special education classes are serving as “de facto ghettos for racialized and Indigenous children within individual schools, particularly those located in wealthier districts:”
My personal observation is that during the 2.5 years that [my child] spent in the segregated HSP class, there was a disproportionately high number of racialized (non-White), low-income, ESL students in this segregated program. [My child] was one among many children with different needs that were mixed together.
Survey respondents gave mixed reviews about the success of the HSP. Some felt the program made a positive impact because the school provided an intervention program or assistive technology. One student noted that he liked the program because in the regular classroom he was made “to feel stupid.” Others reported few gains and said it contributed to them “feeling left out.” One parent of a racialized student felt the decision to place his child into the program was done early and hastily without exploring other options.
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Students with learning disabilities are less likely to graduate from high school.[472] The ability to read and graduate from high school are important factors in securing a job. Low levels of literacy skills are correlated with higher rates of unemployment and lower incomes.[473]
Parents of students in elementary or secondary school expressed concern about whether their children would graduate, or if they did graduate whether they would have functional reading skills to ensure successful employment. The inquiry also heard from students and parents of students who did not graduate from high school. Respondents consistently cited mental health issues as the reason for dropping out, and talked about the difficulty in getting basic jobs due to low reading levels.
There were success stories of students who overcame barriers, graduated from high school, applied to college and university, graduated with diplomas, bachelor, masters and PhD degrees. Students reported studying or working in different fields, such as engineering, teaching, social work, communications, music, art, film, law, commerce, public policy, banking, political science, industrial design, academics, chemistry, human resources and real estate. Some students’ career or education choices were influenced by the desire to help students who struggled like they did, or to pursue studies that complemented their creative skills or ability to “think outside of the box.”
However, these positive accounts also included challenges. Success often came at a high financial cost and toll on families. One family reported spending roughly $40,000 so their son could graduate high school and be able to choose his educational path. This included the cost of assessments, private tutoring and programs until Grade 12. Another parent reported: “We’re university educated with financial resources and we just barely got him through the public system.”
Students said that effective interventions played a critical role in their ability to graduate from high school. One student reported how an effective intervention program received at a demonstration school was the key to “saving her life,” “eliminating the welfare pathway” and put her in a position to apply to university.
Some students with reading disabilities who graduated from high school attributed their success to factors outside the school system:
I have succeeded so far in spite of the “education” I received not because of it. It is because of my excellent family and friends that I have found success in university and at the end of high school…Had my parents not stepped in to help me, and fight the school on every issue, the school system as it is set up now would have failed me as it has with so many of my peers in a similar situation.
Past students also talked about how their successful experience was unique and that they were the “lucky ones” in making it to university:
It saddens me to hear that these issues are still on going in schools. It has been nearly 10 years since I have left elementary school but most of the struggles I went through are still persisting…I made it to university but most others don’t. I knew others with the same disability from elementary/high school and out of all them I was the only one to pursue higher education (one did not even graduate high school). Their future quality of life is highly likely to suffer because of this.
Some students emphasized the lifelong consequences of learning struggles in their school years. When one person with dyslexia found out his daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, he said it “ripped [his] heart out” because he feared she would go through the same experiences. He talked about his alcohol dependency and other struggles that stemmed from his experience in elementary school:
My sense of worthlessness has followed me into adulthood. My self-esteem is so low. I have difficulties relating to people and making friends because I always think that people are judging me. I have gone through series of depressions in my life because of how I was treated in school related to my reading difficulties. The majority of the other kids that were taken out of class with me into “special ed” have turned to substance abuse, been killed because of incidents while intoxicated, [died by] suicide or ended up in jail. I really thought we were a cursed group and in a way we were. As each year goes by and I hear of another death of one of these friends I was waiting for something to happen to me. But I realize now that I am the lucky one. I have been given a chance to speak out on their behalf and that’s what I’m doing now.
Other former students talked about the mental health struggles that still follow them in their adult lives, such as a “lifelong sense of inferiority.” One tenured professor, who has published many papers and books, talked about moments that he still finds himself thinking “I am stupid.”
The inquiry also heard about historical accounts of physical and emotional abuse relating to reading disabilities, from students who have long since left the system:
It was 76 years ago and I remember as if it was this morning. I was in Grade 3 and was strapped for not being able to read. I failed Grade 3. Dropped out of high school at Grade 11. People who are not dyslexic will never know what a dyslexic student goes through. The way we treat these children, even today, is a living tragedy.
Another student shared his story of trauma:
I have PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] from the effect of the nuns making me stand, while waiting for me to read a children’s version of the Bible, for a period of, what seemed to be five minutes, in complete silence. This occurred weekly for three years…My mother was constantly worried about my inability to read. This caused her a great deal of distress. My parents had both gone to university. They both were so worried and this caused stress in their marriage. Each thought the other should have the answer.
Although, these accounts are historical, the inquiry found that experiences within the current school system are similar. Students reported being made to feel stupid and humiliated. One respondent said:
One of the…teachers made my daughter write her last name…before she could go to the washroom. At the time, I couldn’t understand why my five-year-old was peeing in her pants every day. She was holding her pee so much, she stopped drinking, developed a urinary tract infection and was severely constipated. As a five-year-old, she didn’t know to inform us of this abusive “requirement” that was happening at school.
It is apparent that the current public education system is failing students with reading difficulties. These students are being subjected to biases and adverse treatment and their educational needs are neglected, resulting in detrimental effects on their mental health and life outcomes. Children are not alone in suffering these consequences. Families are bearing the financial, employment, social and emotional costs.
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Family members of students with reading difficulties are exhausted. Unmet educational needs for students in the schools negatively affects parents’ resources, relationships and mental health.
Half of parents (51%) felt that their need to be involved in their child’s education placed an unreasonable burden on the family.
 
The inquiry found that parents who could afford to do so spent a significant amount on their children’s education. Parents paid for psychoeducational assessments, tutoring, reading interventions outside of the school, technology, private schools and mental health counselling.
More than half (56%) of the families reported having a psychoeducational assessment completed outside of the school. Of these families, 63% paid for all or part of the cost.[474] The average cost of a psychoeducational assessment was almost $3,000, and on average parents paid around $1,800 of this cost.[475]
Most parents (89%) who accessed private services such as programs or tutoring paid for these services.[476] The median cost was $3,500 per year and the average was around $5,000.
Some families put their children in private schools or specialized schools for students with dyslexia. This school change was due to lack of progress in learning to read and/or bullying in their home school, and the negative effects on their child’s mental health. This cost families personal sacrifices and thousands of dollars each year.
Families able to pay for psychoeducational assessments, private programs, tutoring and private school do so at great financial cost. They reported having to:
Some parents reported that spending money on services to help their children learn to read meant limiting extra-curricular activities, which added to their child’s sense of social isolation.
Families who could afford such services made financial sacrifices for their children as it was “the most important thing” to set their children up for future success, or because they felt that their child’s mental health challenges were so severe, it was a necessary life-saving measure. These parents felt alone and unsupported in “subsidizing what should be part of a child’s education.”
There were differences in the financial impact on families and in their ability to pay for services. Families with more than one child with a disability experienced additional financial and personal stress. While all families talked about some sort of sacrifice, the degree and level of hardship varied. For some, it meant delaying retirement, while for others it meant worrying about current basic needs like food and shelter. One parent reported having to choose between private education services or mental health supports because she could not afford both.
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There were significant differences in access to private services based on family income. Low-income respondents were less likely to report receiving services for reading difficulties, such as interventions and private tutoring, outside of school. Respondents with a total income of $150,000 or more before taxes (2018) received private services at a higher rate (88%) than families earning less than $25,000 (52%) or families earning $25,000 to $35,000 (54%). However, even families with fewer financial resources felt the need to find ways to supplement their child’s public school education.
 
Table 13: Access to private services for reading difficulties and income level
Income level (2018 and before tax)
Private services for reading difficulties
Parent paid for these services
Less than $25,000
52%
65%
$25,000 to $35,000
54%
35%
$35,000 to $50,000
53%
73%
$50,000 to $75,000
71%
86%
$75,000 to $100,000
73%
89%
$100,000 to 150,000
79%
88%
More than $150,000
88%
93%
Many families (33%) with a total income that exceeded $150,000 before taxes acknowledged that their privileged position positively affected their child’s education. One parent said:
As much as it has been frustrating at times, we have had an easier time than many…I believe that this is because our education levels and income made it relatively easy for us to navigate the system, quickly decide on a course of action, and pay privately for an assessment. We were also quick to decide on private tutoring because we knew that we would be able to afford it, and that it would be more effective than anything the school could provide.
Parents also reported feeling that being White or presenting as White positively affected their child’s education experience.
Survey data showed troubling trends in access to psychoeducational assessments and income levels:
 
Table 14: Access to psychoeducational assessments and income level
Income level (2018 and before tax)
School assessment
School assessment (but had to ask school)
On the school waiting list
Asked school for assessment but did not receive one
Private assessment
Less than $25,000
9%
19%
0%
22%
22%
$25,000 to $35,000
31%
19%
8%
19%
19%
$35,000 to $50,000
11%
18%
7%
19%
28%
$50,000 to $75,000
16%
16%
3%
10%
43%
$75,000 to $100,000
13%
13%
3%
11%
51%
$100,000 to 150,000
10%
9%
2%
8%
62%
More than $150,000
10%
5%
1%
7%
68%
Low-income respondents waited longer for a psychoeducational assessments. The average wait time for families with an income of less than $25,000 per year was 20.5 months, while the average for families with an income of more than $150,000 per year was 11.5 months. The lack of access to these assessments for lower-income families is highly problematic – particularly if assessments help access reading interventions or other supports. Many respondents (42%) reported that a psychoeducational assessment was required for students to gain access to a school reading intervention program.
Access to effective reading interventions in the private sector, provided by adequately trained instructors, is also costly. One parent receiving social assistance explained how the cycle of poverty continues because families with low incomes do not get the help they need. While she researched reading disabilities extensively and determined the best supports for her son, she also knew that most of these supports were “unavailable if you are low-income.” Overwhelmingly, parents who could not afford necessary supports reported feeling a considerable amount of guilt.
Vulnerable groups protected by human rights legislation are more likely to experience low social and economic status or conditions.[477] One parent explained the additional barriers he faced due to his low-income status as well as other intersecting identities:
I was a low-income, racialized parent in a generally White wealthy school…district and my concerns and verbal requests for testing…were never taken seriously. In retrospect, I also believe that I was at a disadvantage regarding what I suspect are [the school’s] expectations for children who are struggling readers: that the families in this district can afford private testing, expensive tutors, and private school tuition. This was a suggestion that teachers and administrators made to me again and again. They made me feel badly that I could not afford a tutor, as if it was my responsibility to teach [my child] to read, not theirs.
Other survey respondents echoed this sentiment. They felt their school treated them differently because of their lower incomes, and were told to “pick [themselves] up from [their] bootstraps.” One parent noted: “With the current school system, I don’t see how any child from a poor family, from a non-university educated family, from a single-parent family could possibly succeed.”
Some parents reported that the school only put accommodations or interventions in place after they hired a lawyer to advocate on their behalf. Other parents said they had to take time off work to make presentations to school boards, for their children to be admitted into special education programs.
Educator survey respondents also raised concerns about the disadvantage faced by children whose families do not have the time or money to dedicate to this type of advocacy. They noted that parents with the time and money to “exert pressure” or “fight for their child” receive interventions and supports. Many educators found that higher socio-economic status and parent involvement are highly correlated to a student’s likelihood of receiving services. One educator said:
Parents with more wealth will do things like get a private [psychoeducational assessment] done and will advocate for their child more to get things in place for an IEP or accommodations, or specialized programming. My students…who struggle making ends [meet], their outcomes are more negatively impacted by their [parents] having less access.
Educator respondents also reported differences between students who attend schools in affluent areas, where there is a greater access to fundraising pools to purchase technology and licenses for reading interventions. A People for Education study showed that elementary schools with low poverty rates raise twice the amount raised by schools with higher poverty rates. They noted:
This creates a double advantage for students in higher income schools – they come from families that can afford to pay for enrichment opportunities outside of school and they attend schools that fundraise as much as $150,000 per year to provide enrichment at school.[478]
Families from high-income households still overwhelmingly reported challenges and negative experiences with the school system, but acknowledged that they were in a better position due to private access to support services and technology. Some parents even recognized other privileges. One parent said:
We are White, upper-middle class, a teacher and a child of teachers/principals. We know how the system works. We worked it as fast as possible and can afford the required supports outside of the school. It still took 2.5 years of active supports before we started to see progress. This should have started in Kindergarten.
One high-income family reported having to sell their house to afford sending their daughter to private school. Although the student was two years behind and all her subjects were modified, the school told the family that she was “not exceptional enough” to receive any reading intervention.
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The financial burden alone of paying for necessary supports not provided by the school can have negative mental health consequences for families. This burden was disproportionately shouldered by mothers. Some parents put their careers on hold, cut down to part-time work or quit their jobs to home-school their children, provide extra tutoring support or drive their child to appointments. Many parents described the support they provided (researching reading disabilities and instruction, and acting as tutor and advocate) as equivalent to a “full-time job.” Although, parents reported being willing to do what was necessary, they also commented that this interfered with their sense of well-being, professional fulfillment and financial resources.
Parents reported additional stressors such as navigating unfamiliar systems, lacking expertise and feeling guilty for not acting sooner. These stressors can have a negative effect on a person’s mental health. One parent reported that the feeling of failure in students is also mirrored in parents: “As much as students feel like they are the failures, parents do too – that they didn’t recognize the signs.”
As parents learn about the critical role of effective early interventions, feelings associated with not acting sooner build. Many parents reported feelings of guilt: wondering if they had “passed on” their own reading disability to their children, worrying the critical window for intervention was missed, wishing they had pushed the school more to provide supports, not knowing what to do, not being able to afford to pay for private services, and a general sense of thinking they were not doing enough.
Parents often reported how heartbreaking it was to see their children in pain. The experience is not only traumatic for students with reading disabilities, but also for their parents.[479] Some parents reported experiencing severe and prolonged depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and other serious mental health concerns. One parent reported:
It is starting to have an impact on my health. I do not sleep well and have now started to grind my teeth…I am doing self-care…but there is never enough time. All of my spare time is spent researching how to help him and educating the educators. It is exhausting.
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Families whose first language is not English face even more barriers in advocating for their children. These parents reported that schools did not inform them about available supports such as interventions. One newcomer parent talked about the additional challenges of navigating an unfamiliar school system:
I migrated to Canada as a refugee…fleeing a brutal civil war…I am grateful that my son lives in a country where he is guaranteed an education and where he has the right to achieve his full potential, something that I was denied myself as a child. At the same time, my lack of experience with a formal education system made the process of understanding the [school board’s] bureaucracy, the institutional responses to [my child’s] learning disability, and the need to advocate for [my child’s] educational rights extremely stressful, perplexing, and frustrating. While I was in [Ontario city name], I often felt so despairing in the face [of] a system that is completely impenetrable and unresponsive. It is difficult to express just how exhausting it was to struggle for [my child’s] basic rights to education with no progress.
He also explained why figuring out the school process was harder because of a foreign cultural context:
There were basic communication problems with [the school] that were based on cultural differences. I come from a culture where the most important issues are discussed orally, face-to-face, as a sign of respect, and this is how I handled the first two years of requests about [my child’s] education needs and testing. I see now how this approach was at odds with the culture in which I now live, where the most important issues are communicated in writing and produce a paper trail that holds administrators and teachers accountable and, therefore, motivates them to action. I believe this communicative dissonance and failure to take my concerns seriously contributed to the delays in testing and an inappropriate placement.
A study of the achievement gap for Afghan boys in Toronto also speaks about these challenges for newcomer and refugee parents. In that study, many parents felt frustrated about their communication with schools, most often citing the lack of interpreters or lack of materials in their home languages as significant barriers.[480]
One parent of adopted children talked about the unique needs of children who experience developmental trauma and grief stemming from the loss of their family.
The inquiry also heard from the Thunder Bay Children’s Aid Society (CAS) about the unique challenges of children in care. These children were still living with their biological families (not in foster care), but their families were receiving services from CAS. The CAS reported that parental struggles like mental health and addiction, poverty and partner violence are among the reasons why the CAS becomes involved. These children faced barriers to learning such as early childhood adversity, including the impacts of intergenerational trauma and poverty. A representative said:
Frequently the families that we work with aren’t aware of the programs, services and assessments the school can offer…Often the families we service feel powerless in these types of meetings due to the adversities they themselves have experienced.
Families with low incomes and/or single-parent families may also have less time to be involved in their child’s education, because they may have less flexibility in their work and are struggling to provide basic necessities for their child. Sometimes they may not be able to attend school meetings to discuss their child’s needs.
Many single-parent families, overwhelmingly mothers, reported additional challenges. These included being taken less seriously by the school. Many single mothers reported feeling dismissed by the school because they did not have a male partner. One respondent asked: “Would they be as dismissive and bully me if I had a husband with me?” Another respondent said she “was generally bulldozed until I brought a man or professional advocate with me to meetings.”
One single mother with a learning disability dropped out of high school but eventually completed a Master’s degree. She talked about how her struggle gave her strength, knowledge and understanding of the challenges ahead. She felt that these qualities gave her the ability to advocate and support her daughter. Many parents do not have the experiences or know-how to be effective advocates in a complex and sometimes unwelcoming education system.
Even when parents had financial flexibility, were well-educated, lived in large urban centres and worked in professions that gave them “insider” knowledge (such as teachers, speech-language pathologists, advocates), they still reported that they struggled to navigate the system and felt overwhelmed. Many parents who were also teachers reported not knowing how to teach students with reading difficulties until they had a child with a reading disability. Their reports provide telling insight into the lack of knowledge of effective reading instruction and interventions in the public school system.
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Families that lived in more rural and remote areas also reported extra challenges in accessing supports. If supports were available, they came at an increased financial cost and increased travelling time, which was sometimes prohibitive. Many families talked about the lack of evidence-based programs, tutoring or supports even outside the school system, in smaller or more remote cities. For some families, particularly in Northern Ontario, services were a two-hour drive away or only accessible by flight. The inquiry also heard that some parents had to go out of Ontario or out of Canada to access psychoeducational assessments, programs or tutoring.
Many educator respondents commented on the disparity in services in rural compared to urban schools. One educator noted that “rural/small schools can be particularly impacted by strained resources, limited personnel and the impact of poverty and deprivation.”
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Franco-Ontarians faced additional barriers in trying to access supports in French both inside and outside of school. Many noted that the combination of being Francophone and living in rural areas prevented them from accessing many supports. However, even families living in cities reported having to leave the city to access assessments, programs and tutoring in French. One parent explained the impact of the lack of supports in French for students with reading difficulties:
En Ontario, nous avons le droit à l’enseignement en français par contre lors de trouble d’apprentissage, il y a très peu de ressources ou programmes disponibles pour le personnel enseignants et les élèves. C’est en partie pour cette raison que nous avons retiré notre enfant du système scolaire francophone.
[In Ontario, we have the right to be taught in French. However, there are very few resources or programs available for teachers and students with learning disabilities. This is part of the reason why we removed our child from the French school system.]
Francophone rights-holders have a constitutional right to education services that are substantively equivalent to those of the English-language majority.[481] If interventions are not available in French, this raises concerns about fulfilling the purpose of this Charter right – to protect against assimilation.[482]
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Family dynamics are affected by students’ experiences of learning struggles, failing to learn how to read, and navigating what feels like an unsupportive school system. Parents talked about strained parent-child, parent-sibling and parent-parent relationships.
The day-to-day experience of parents supporting their children with reading difficulties can be very stressful. Parents reported spending a lot of time trying to get their children out of bed in the morning, which was particularly challenging when their child was dealing with school avoidance and mental health issues.
Evenings were equally stressful. Students and parents felt exhausted after stressful school and workdays. Many parents reported that homework took most of the evening and resulted in “tears,” “outbursts,” “exasperation” and “frustration” from both children and parents.
Some parents tutored their children because they could not afford to pay for a private program, or because they lived in a more rural area. Parents felt they had to assume the tutor or teacher role rather than just being allowed to focus on being a parent, and there was little time or energy left for down time. Parents reported that these experiences had a significant negative impact on the parent-child relationship. One parent said she felt like she spent more time tutoring her children than playing with them. Another parent said:
That’s a huge struggle because I want to spend my nights with him, enjoying him, but he fights me every night to read and do the program that I feel is best for him. So I don’t get to have those joyous nights as often because I’m constantly in a battle and it’s hard.
Sometimes parents made the difficult decision to separate the family so the student could receive the support they were not receiving at their school. This meant either sending the student to a year-long residential school program, a summer course elsewhere in the province, or enrolling the student in a school abroad (U.S. and U.K.). Parents felt that this helped academic progress and mental health but negatively affected family relationships.
Parents reported negative impacts on siblings and used words such as “animosity,” “friction,” “tension” and “jealousy” to describe the relationship between siblings and the affected child. Parents often felt guilty because they put the needs of other siblings “on hold” to invest time, money and energy supporting and advocating for their child with a reading difficulty. Parents took extra time to provide one-on-one homework help, research the science of reading, drive their child for reading interventions outside of school and to counselling appointments, and attend meetings at the school. Parents reported not having enough time or money to spend on other siblings’ academic studies, well-being, extra-curricular activities or sports, or on celebrating achievements.
Parents also reported the strain on their marriages or relationships with their partners. Some parents separated from or divorced their partners because of the stresses related to their child’s reading difficulty. Other parents reported that their marriages suffered because of arguments over decisions about how to best support their children. One parent reported:
As a family, my older son gets only a fraction of the attention [my other child] gets as I am now responsible for teaching my child to read and write…My marriage is crumbling. My career has been put on hold. This has been devastating to put it simply. I don’t care about the loss of wages, the trips we can’t take, the things we can’t buy – all I want is my child to have the same opportunities as others and the possibility of a bright future.
Students and parents are losing faith in the current education system. They feel overwhelmed and unsupported. Students and parents often used the word “struggle” to describe school experiences. Although the impact of failing to teach students to read affects society, students and parents feel they carry the burden of addressing the issue. However, as one survey respondent stated, “No child should be left alone to carry their burden of shame. This is a burden for all of us to share.”
The recommendations in the following sections will help all students learn to read, and will help to reduce the negative consequences experienced by students, their families and society.
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[413] Robert S Brown et al, “Redefining Risk: Human Rights and Elementary School Factors Predicting Post-Secondary Access” (2020) 28:21 Education Policy Analysis Archives, online: Education Policy Analysis Archives epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/4200/2382; Ross Finnie & Richard E Mueller, “The Effects of Family Income, Parental Education and Other Factors on Access to Post-Secondary Education in Canada: Evidence from the YITS” (July 2008) MESA Project Research Paper, online (pdf): York University yorku.ca/pathways/literature/Access/MESA_Finnie_Mueller.pdf; Richard E Mueller, “Access and Persistence of Students from Low-Income Backgrounds in Canadian Post-Secondary Education: A Review of the Literature” (May 2008) MESA Project Research Paper, online (pdf): University of Lethbridge http://scholar.ulethbridge.ca/sites/default/files/mueller/files/mesa.may_.2008.pdf?m=1458144695; R S Brown & G Tam, “Grade 9 cohort post-secondary pathways, 2011–2016” Fact Sheet 3 (Toronto: Toronto District School Board, November 2017), online (pdf): Toronto District School Board tdsb.on.ca/Portals/research/docs/reports/FS3%20Grade%209%20Cohort%20Post-Sec%20Pathways%202011-16%20FINAL.pdf; L Musu-Gillette et al, Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups 2017 (NCES 2017-051) (Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education NCES, 2017), online (pdf): National Center for Education Statistics nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017051.pdf;
Alan Ginsburg et al, Absences add up: How school attendance influences student success (August 2014), online (pdf): Attendance Works attendanceworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Absenses-Add-Up_September-3rd-2014.pdf; Michael A Gottfried, “Evaluating the relationship between student attendance and achievement in urban elementary and middle schools: An instrumental variables approach” (2010) 47:2 American Edu Research J 434, DOI: https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831209350494;
Christopher A Kearney, “School absenteeism and school refusal behavior in youth: A contemporary review” (2008) 28 Clin Psychol Rev 451, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2007.07.012; Joyce L Epstein & Steven B Sheldon, “Present and accounted for: Improving student attendance through family and community involvement” (2002) 95:5 J of Edu Research 308, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220670209596604; Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities (July 2019) Briefing Before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, online (pdf): US Commission on Civil Rights usccr.gov/pubs/2019/07-23-Beyond-Suspensions.pdf.
[414] Sally Shaywitz & Jonathan Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, 2nd ed (New York: Vintage Books, 2020) at 86 [Shaywitz & Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia]; see also: Developmental Perspective on Testing for Dyslexia: Field Hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (13 October 2015) United States Senate Hearing 114-692, online: GovInfo govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-114shrg97273/html/CHRG-114shrg97273.htm.
[415] Students who are learning English at the same time as they are learning the curriculum and developing a full range of literacy skills. See Ontario Ministry of Education, English Language Learners ESL and ELD Programs and Services: Policies and Procedures for Ontario Elementary and Secondary Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2007) at 7, online (pdf): Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/esleldprograms/esleldprograms.pdf [Ontario Ministry of Education, English Language Learners ESL and ELD Programs and Services].
[416] For example, children from low-income households often start school already behind their peers: H Ferguson et al, “The Impact of Poverty on Educational Outcomes for Children” (2007) 12:8 Paediatrics & Child Health 701, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/12.8.701.
[417] Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole per cent. If the decimal portion was less than 0.5, we rounded down; if it was greater than 0.5, we rounded up. If the decimal portion was exactly 0.5, we rounded up if the place value to the left of the decimal was an odd number and down if it was an even number. Because gender categories that were not “boy/man” or “girl/woman” fell below 0.5%, we kept the value left of the decimal. Also, when comparing our inquiry data to Statistics Canada demographic information, we mirrored the number of decimal points provided by Statistics Canada for ease of comparison. Percentages, which are calculated on rounded data, may not necessarily add up to 100%.
[418] This category included self-report of a reading disability.
[419] Respondents reported co-existing disabilities such as ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ASD, intellectual disabilities, blindness, low vision, deaf, hard of hearing, language disabilities, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health disabilities.
[420] Countries reported were Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, China, England, Ethiopia, Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Ireland, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.
[421] Other languages were: Arabic, ASL, Creole, Croatian, Farsi, German, Greek, Haka, Italian, Lebanese, Mandarin, Ojibway, Patois, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Telugu.
[422] Respondents could choose all that apply. The race-based categories were modelled based on Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism, OIC 897/2018, online: Government of Ontario ontario.ca/page/anti-racism-data-standards-order-council-8972018.
[423] Many respondents who self-identified as “other” also self-identified as “mixed race.” Respondents answered: “Eastern Europe,” “White and Latina,” “Mixed race: Caucasian and Indian,” “Mixed race: White and North African,” “Why is this important to this survey,” “Mixed white and Indian,” “Canadian,” “Mixed: Japanese Canadian/Caucasian,” “Mixed Latino and Asian,” “French Canadian,” “Mix Background: Latino and White,” “Jewish,” “Mixed: White/East Asian,” “Jewish, Irish and Cree descent,” “Mixed ethnicity,” Mixed”, “Biracial: White and South Asian,” “Macedonian,” “Canadian/Central America,” “Mixed: Black/White,” “Lebanese/White European,” “White/Middle Eastern,” “West Indian/Mexican.”
[424] The total exceeds 100% because respondents could select more than one race category. When comparing the inquiry data to Statistics Canada demographic information, we mirrored the number of decimal points provided by Statistics Canada for ease of comparison.
[425] Ontario [Province] and Ontario [Province] (table), Census Profile. 2016 Census, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 29 November 2017), online: Statistics Canada www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=PR&Code1=35&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&SearchText=Toronto&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=Visible%20minority&TABID=1&type=1 [Statistics Canada, Census Profile 2016].
[426] Statistics Canada has separate categories for Arab and West Asian while the ATRD combines these categories into Middle Eastern – the breakdown according to Statistics Canada would be: West Asian: 1.2% and Arab 1.6%.
[427] Combining Statistics Canada figures for Chinese (5.7%), Korean (0.7%), Japanese (0.2%)
[428] Combining Statistics Canada figures for Filipino (2.4%) and Southeast Asian.
[429] Statistics Canada reports that there are 3,860 Inuit in Ontario but rounds down percentages and therefore reports the percentage as 0%.
[430] Many respondents who self-identified as “other” also self-identified as “mixed race.” Respondents answered: “Bi-racial (Black and Caucasian),” “White with First Nations in family,” “White Jewish,” “Canadian,” “Mixed (Japanese Canadian and Caucasian),” “Jewish/White European,” “Franco Ontarienne,” “Mixed ethnicity,” “Mixed (Japanese Canadian and British),” “Macedonian,” “Mixed southeast Asian and European,” “West Indian/Mexican.”
[431] Statistics Canada, “Table 11-10-0190-01 Market income, government transfers, total income, income tax and after-tax income by economic family type” (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 23 March 2021), DOI: https://doi.org/10.25318/1110019001-eng.
[432] Statistics Canada, Ontario [Province] and Ontario [Province] (table), Census Profile, 2016 Census, Catalogue No 98-316-X2016001 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 29 November 2017), online: Statistics Canada www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=PR&Code1=35&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&SearchText=Toronto&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=Education&TABID=1&type=1.
[433] Ontario statistics are derived from the Statistics Canada category: “no certificate, diploma or degree,” see Statistics Canada, Census Profile 2016, supra note 425.
[434] Respondents who answered others provided various notes in the textbox; sometimes they listed multiple degrees or a specific Bachelor or Master’s degree. Others explained that they were currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution, or they had started but not completed a degree or diploma.
[435] Myoungock Jang & Allison Vorderstresse, “Socioeconomic Status and Racial or Ethnic Differences in Participation: Web-Based Survey” (2019) 8:4 JMIR Res Protoc DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/11865;
David R Williams & Michelle Sternthal, “Understanding Racial/ethnic Disparities in Health: Sociological Contributions” (2010) 51:1 J Health Soc Behav s15 at 15–16, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146510383838;
Helen Sheldon et al., “Increasing Response Rates Amongst Black and Minority Ethnic and Seldom Heard Groups” (Oxford: Picker Institute Europe, 2007), online (pdf): Research Gate researchgate.net/publication/255650786_Increasing_response_rates_amongst_black_and_minority_ethnic_and_seldom_heard_groups.
[436] Under Suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario (2017), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission ohrc.on.ca/en/under-suspicion-research-and-consultation-report-racial-profiling-ontario; Rates of poverty are much higher for people with disabilities (23.5%), First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples (23.7%), Black persons (24.1%), female-led families (29.8%), immigrants arriving between 2011 and 2016 (35.6%), and Arab persons (40.6%); see: Catherine Wall (Statistics Canada), Low income among persons with a disability in Canada, Catalogue No 75-006-X (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 11 August 2017), online (pdf): Statistics Canada www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/75-006-x/2017001/article/54854-eng.pdf?st=0-FzFFz0; Statistics Canada, Data Tables, 2016 Census, Catalogue Nos 98-400-X2016124, 98-400-X2016173, 98-400-X2016211, 98-400-X2016206 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2018), online: Statistics Canada statcan.gc.ca/en/start; René Houle (Statistics Canada), Changes in the socioeconomic situation of Canada’s Black population, 2001 to 2016, Catalogue No 89-657-X2020001 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2020), online: Statistics Canada www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-657-x/89-657-x2020001-eng.htm; Martin Turcotte (Statistics Canada), Results from the 2016 Census: Education and labour market integration of Black youth in Canada, Catalogue No 75-006-X (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2020), online: Statistics Canada www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2020001/article/00002-eng.htm.
[437] Web-based surveys are not always an effective way to hear from certain communities. We did not hear from segments of the population. People with low literacy and people who may have difficulty accessing the Internet, such as people with low incomes, people in jail or prison and homeless youth, are not as well represented among the respondents. The survey was only available in English and French, which affected the number of respondents who are newcomers to Canada and/or speak languages other than English or French.
[438] Neil Alexander-Passe, “How dyslexic teenagers cope: an investigation of self-esteem, coping and depression” (2006) 12:4 Dyslexia 256 at 256, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.318 [Alexander-Passe, “How dyslexic teenagers cope”].
[439] Heikki Lyytinen et al, “Early identification and prevention of dyslexia: results from a prospective follow-up study of children at familial risk for dyslexia” in Gavin Reid et al, eds, The Sage Handbook of Dyslexia (London: SAGE, 2008) at 124, DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9780857020987.n6.
[440] Alexander-Passe, “How dyslexic teenagers cope,” supra note 438.
[441] Ibid. [Alexander-Passe, “How dyslexic teenagers cope,” supra note 438]
[442] Neil Alexander-Passe, The successful dyslexic: identify the keys to unlock your potential (Netherlands: SensePublishers, 2017) at xvii, 14.
[443] Gavin Reid & Iva Strnadova, “Dyslexia and learning styles: Overcoming the barriers to learning” in Gavin Reid et al., eds, The Sage Handbook of Dyslexia (London: SAGE, 2008) at 372.
[444] Integra, “A Handbook on Learning Disabilities,” supra note 94 at 23.
[445] Chromebooks are often provided to students as an accommodation.
[446] See for more information about different types of anxiety disorders: “What are Anxiety Disorders?” (June 2021), online: American Psychiatric Association psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders.
[447] Mark Boyes et al, “Why Are Reading Difficulties Associated with Mental Health Problems?” (2016) 22:3 Dyslexia 263, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.1531.
[448] Mental health concerns like anxiety and depression are leading drivers of the increase in suicidal ideation, emergency room visits and hospitalization, and are a component of increasing health-care costs. Data from the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Science shows that emergency room visits and hospitalization for children and youth have dramatically increased from 2006 to 2014. Children in the 14 to 17 age group had the highest rate of hospitalizations, and anxiety disorders were the most common diagnoses for mental health and addiction-related emergency department visits; MHASEF Research Team, The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: 2017 Scorecard (Toronto: IC/ES, 2017) at 7, online: IC/ES ices.on.ca/Publications/Atlases-and-Reports/2017/MHASEF.
[449] Gillian Parekh et al, “Learning Skills, System Equity, and Implicit Bias Within Ontario, Canada” (2018) 35:2 Educational Policy, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904818813303.
[450] This is when using the discrepancy model of assessment: looking at the student’s observed cognitive abilities and their expected achievement, as measured by standardized psychological assessments. See: Esther Geva et al, “Assessing Reading in Second Language Learners: Development, Validity, and Educational Considerations” in Kilpatrick et al, eds, Reading Development and Difficulties: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2019) at 34, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-26550-2_6: “IQ tests often disadvantage ELL learners, both culturally and linguistically, and it may therefore be more difficult to establish reliable and valid IQ scores, and therefore to establish a discrepancy between IQ and achievement. In other words, the IQ-achievement discrepancy framework may be especially biased against L2 learners.” See also Else V Hamayan et al, “Reasons for the Misidentification of Special Needs among ELLs” (2007), online: LD Online ldonline.org/article/40715/; Connecticut Administrators of Programs for English Language Learners, English Language Learners and Special Education: A Resource Handbook (2011), online (pdf): Connecticut’s Official State Website: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/English-Learners/CAPELL_SPED_resource_guide.pdf.
[451] Christie Fraser et al, “Recognizing English Language Learners with Reading Disabilities: Minimizing Bias, Accurate Identification, and Timely Intervention,” online: Perspectives on Language mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=229791&article_id=1840771&view=articleBrowser [Fraser et al, “Recognizing English Language Learners with Reading Disabilities”], citing to: M M Limbos & E Geva, “Accuracy of teacher assessments of second-language students at risk for reading disability” (2001) 34:2 J Learn Disabil 136, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940103400204. [Limbos & Geva, “Accuracy of teacher assessments”].
[452] Jim Cummins, Bilingualism and special education: Issues in assessment and pedagogy (Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters, 1984). See also: Vicki Adelson et al, Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of English Language Learners with Learning Difficulties in the Elementary and Intermediate Grades: A Guide for educators in Ontario school boards (March 2014) (Toronto: University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 2014), online: State Education Resource Centre ctserc.org/documents/resources/ELLs-with-special-needs.pdf [Adelson et al, Identification, Assessment and Instruction.”] And see Fraser et al, supra note 451.
[453] Limbos & Geva, “Accuracy of teacher assessments,” supra note 451, citing to Limbos & Geva, “Accuracy of teacher assessments,” supra note 451; E Geva, “Issues in the assessment of reading disabilities in L2 children – beliefs and research evidence” (2000) 6:1 Dyslexia 13, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-0909(200001/03)6:1<13::AID-DYS155>3.0.CO;2-6 [Geva, “Issues in the assessment of reading disabilities in L2 children.”]
[454] Fraser et al, “Recognizing English Language Learners with Reading Disabilities,” supra note 457, citing to: Szu-Yin Chu & Sobeida Flores, “Assessment of English Language Learners with Learning Disabilities” (2011) 84:6 Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas 244, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00098655.2011.590550: “Both groups may demonstrate poor listening or reading comprehension, difficulty following directions, errors in grammar and syntax, difficulty in task completion, poor self-esteem, poor oral skills and low motivation.”
[455] E Geva & J Wiener, Psychological assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children – a practitioner’s guide, (New York: Springer, 2015) [Geva & Wiener, Psychological assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children.]
[456] Geva, “Issues in the assessment of reading disabilities in L2 children,” supra note 453.
[457] Geva & Wiener, Psychological assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children, supra note 455.
[458] E Geva E & L Wade-Woolley, “Issues in the assessment of reading disability in second language children” in I Smythe et al, eds, International book of dyslexia: a cross-language comparison and practice guide (Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 2004) [Geva & Wade-Woolley, “Issues in the assessment of reading disability in second language children.”]
[459] The Ontario Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (ONBIDA) obtained and analyzed provincial EQAO data and submitted their analysis to the OHRC.
[460] The Ontario Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (ONBIDA) obtained and analyzed provincial EQAO data and submitted their analysis to the OHRC.
[461] Adelson et al, “Identification, Assessment, and Instruction,” supra note 452; Louisa Moats, Whole-Language High Jinks (Thomas B Fordham Institute, 2007), online (pdf): ERIC Institute of Education Sciences files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498005.pdf [Moats, Whole-Language High Jinks]; Amedeo D’Angiulli et al, “Literacy Instruction, SES, and Word-Reading Achievement in English-Language Learners and Children with English as a First Language: A Longitudinal Study” (2004) 19:4 Learn Disabil Research and Practice 202, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5826.2004.00106.x.
[462] Kent McIntosh et al, “Response to Intervention in Canada: Definitions, the Evidence Base, and Future Directions” (2011) 26:1 Canadian J of School Psychol 18, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573511400857 [McIntosh].
[463] The Learning Partnership, “A Report on Engaging Boys for Success – Academic Success for Afghan Boys in the Thorncliffe Park Community: A Shared Responsibility” (2012) [The Learning Partnership, “A Report on Engaging Boys for Success”].
[464] James & Turner: Towards Race Equity in Education, supra note 389; Clandfield et al, “Restacking the Deck,” supra note 397; “Streaming Students,” excerpt from People for Education, 2015 Annual Report on Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools (2015), (last visited 25 January 2022), online (pdf): People for Education peopleforeducation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/streaming-students-2015.pdf [People for Education, “Streaming Students”]; TDSB, “Director’s response to the Enhancing Equity Task Force Report,” supra note 389 at 10; Clandfield et al, “Restacking the Deck,” supra note 397 at 9.
[465] While 9% of survey respondents mentioned some form of streaming, the rate was higher among respondents earning less than $25,000 a year before taxes in 2018 and respondents whose highest level of education was a secondary school diploma.
[466] Miller, “Data reveal issues,” supra note 402; CBC News, “English-track students less privileged than immersion peers,” supra note 401.
[467] Brown & Parekh, The Intersection of Disability, Achievement, and Equity, supra note 324 at 31; J S De Valenzuela et al, “Examining Educational Equity: Revisiting the Disproportionate Representation of Minority Students in Special Education” (2006) 72:4 Exceptional Children 425; D Kim Reid & Michelle G Knight, “Disability Justifies Exclusion of Minority Students: A Critical History Grounded in Disability Studies” (2006) 35:6 Educational Researcher 18; Beth A Ferri & David J Connor, “Tools of Exclusion: Race, Disability, and (Re)segregated Education” (2005) 107:3 Teachers College Record 453.
[468] Behaviour classes are special education placements outside of the regular class setting for students typically identified with a behaviour exceptionality as defined by the Ministry of Education. A behavioural exceptionality is defined as a “learning disorder characterized by specific behaviour problems over such a period of time, and to such a marked degree, and of such a nature, as to adversely affect educational performance and that may be accompanied by one or more of the following: a. an inability to build or to maintain interpersonal relationships; b. excessive fears or anxieties; c. a tendency to compulsive reaction; d. an inability to learn that cannot be traced to intellectual, sensory, or other health factors, or any combination thereof.” See Special Education in Ontario Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Resource Guide (2017) at A14, online: Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/policy/os/onschools_2017e.pdf.
[469] The HSP was introduced in the early 2000s for students in Grades 1–8. Beginning in 2017, the TDSB phased out primary placements and provided programming only to Grades 4–8. “Special Education and Section Programs, Appendix A” (last visited 26 January 2022), online: Toronto District School Board: tdsb.on.ca/Portals/0/Community/Community%20Advisory%20committees/SEAC/AppendixASuptDeptUpdate-HSPParentLetter-FINAL.docx.
[470] Gillian Parekh & Robert S. Brown, “Changing Lanes: The Relationship Between Special Education Placement and Students’ Academic Futures” (2019) 33:1 Educational Policy 111 at 126–128, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/089590481881277 Q2.
[471] James & Turner: Towards Race Equity in Education, supra note 389 at 45, online (pdf).
[472] Failing to achieve reading proficiency by the end of Grade 1 is associated with an increased risk of drop-out. Partanen & Siegel, “Long-term outcome of the early identification and intervention of reading disabilities,” supra note 65; see also Trzesniewski et al, supra note 80.
[473] Community Literacy of Ontario, “Literacy,” supra note 119; Heisz et al, supra note 121 at 1.
[474] Parents relied on private insurance to pay the rest of the cost.
[475] Parents relied on private insurance to pay the rest of the cost.
[476] As opposed to free tutoring or programs offered at no cost through the school.
[477] The connection between membership in a group identified under the Code and the likelihood of having a low income has been recognized by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and also the courts in several decisions. Therefore, measures that disadvantage people with low incomes are likely to disproportionately disadvantage members of Code-identified groups.
[478] “The fundraising advantage” (1 March 2018), online: People for Education https://peopleforeducation.ca/our-work/the-fundraising-advantage/.
[479] J Elliott & R Nicolson, Dyslexia: Developing the debate (London: Bloomsbury, 2016) cited in Delany, supra note 144 at 100. 
[480] The Learning Partnership, “A Report on Engaging Boys for Success,” supra note 463.
[481] Charter, s 23; Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie‑Britannique v British Columbia, 2020 SCC 13 at para 26.
[482] Doucet-Boudreau v Nova Scotia (Minister of Education), 2003 SCC 62 at paras 28–29.

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