Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities

"Necessary for some - good for more."

A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction for All Students, Kindergarten to Grade 12

The Vision and Purpose of Learning for All, K–12 This resource guide outlines an integrated process of assessment and instruction designed to improve student learning at both the elementary and secondary levels. Educators from Kindergarten through Grade 12 can use this process to help plan and deliver instruction that benefits all students, from high achievers to those who need additional support and those who have special education programs that include alternative learning expectations or alternative courses.


This memorandum sets out requirements for school boards for the identification of and program planning for students who have learning disabilities. It provides the ministry’s definition of the term learning disability, which must be used by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) in the identification of students who have learning disabilities. Information in the “Program Planning” section on pages 4–6 of this memorandum also applies to any other students who demonstrate difficulties in learning and who would benefit from special education programs and/or services that are appropriate for students with learning disabilities.

Understanding Learning Disabilities: How Processing Affects Learning, developed by the York Region District School Board, is a comprehensive resource designed for educators working with students with learning disabilities, from kindergarten to grade 12. Referred to as the “waterfall chart”, this resource:

  • provides the starting points to think, plan and support programming in response to a student’s assessed areas of strength and/or need.
  • lists various processing areas, including: phonological processing, language, visual-motor skills, memory, processing speed, attention and executive function.
  • provides a definition, possible signs, instructional strategies, environmental strategies, assessment strategies, and possible assistive technology for each of these processing areas.

This chart is designed to be used for starting points to think, plan and support programming in response to a student’s assessed areas of strength and/or need.

Evidence-Based Interventions, Strategies, and Resources

The Intended Use Of This Resource Is To:

  • Support teachers in developing, interpreting, and implementing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) in mathematics.
  • Develop understanding of the cognitive domains / processes involved in learning and how each of these impacts on student engagement in the mathematical processes, otherwise known as the actions of mathematics.
  • Support teachers of mathematics and special education in working collaboratively to select, with precision and personalization, appropriate accommodations based on the unique profile of a student with a learning disability (ie. strengths and needs, as outlined in the IEP).

The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario’s (LDAO) mandate is to provide individuals with the right to learn, the power to achieve. With support from the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Special Education Policy & Programs Branch, LDAO has developed a bilingual resource designed to provide Ontario educators with meaningful information to help support students with learning disabilities, known as LD@school. LD@school is the first resource of its kind dedicated to serving the needs of Ontario’s educators. It provides educators with information, resources and research related to teaching students with learning disabilities.

All students can learn with the use of specific strategies that meet each student’s unique learning needs. Teaching strategies can be implemented for any student who needs them, regardless of formal identification. This site serves as a collection of resources for teachers to easily access and implement with their students.

This brochure is intended to support all educators who are new to DI and those who are refining their DI skills, with the objective that the brochure will serve as an introduction to differentiated instruction as an effective way to support all students by providing opportunities that assist them in taking more responsibility for how they learn and, in turn, what they learn.

This booklet provides an “at a glance” look at effective and differentiated instruction in Mathematics. It includes classroom scenarios that describe how teachers assess, plan and adapt their instruction to determine and address their students’ interests, learning needs and preferences.

Ministry of Education Research

Dr. Marian Small, lead author of the Gap Closing materials, gives a brief description of how and why this resource was developed.

Gap Closing resources are designed for students who need additional support in mathematics. For each topic in the resource, there is a diagnostic and a set of intervention materials. Diagnostics are designed to uncover the typical problems students have with a specific topic in the junior, intermediate, and senior grades.