French-language content for this topic on Alberta.ca is currently being developed. Information will remain available on the Alberta Education website until this is complete.
La page correspondante en français est en cours de préparation sur le site Web Alberta.ca. Pendant cette période de transition, l'information qu'elle contient demeure disponible sur le site Web du ministère de l'Éducation.
Educational practices should be flexible and responsive to the strengths, needs and learning preferences of individual students. This helps create inclusive learning experiences that ensure all students are successful.
All children can learn and reach their full potential when they get opportunities, effective teaching and appropriate resources. It is best to make decisions related to the placement of students on an individual basis in a way that maximizes their opportunity to participate fully in the experience of schooling.
In Alberta, educating students with special education needs in inclusive settings is the first placement option considered by school authorities in consultation with parents, and when appropriate, the students.
Read more about diverse learners in The Learning Team Handbook (PDF, 3.8 MB).
Special education standards
Special education refers to the education of students with mild, moderate or severe disabilities and those who are gifted and talented.
The Standards for Special Education (PDF, 158 KB) help ensure the education system meets the needs of all learners and that all learners have access to high quality education. Special Education requirements apply to Grades 1 to 12 in all public and separate school boards, excluding charter schools.
Every student or Early Childhood Services child identified with special education needs must have an individualized program plan (IPP) and/or an instructional support plan (ISP).
School principals are responsible for ensuring the school has processes and a learning team in place to provide consultation, planning and problem-solving related to programming for students and children with special education needs.
The principal assigns teachers to coordinate, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate student IPPs/ISPs. The teacher involves parents and, when appropriate, other teachers and students in this process.
Standards, requirements, and components
- Standards for Special Education (PDF, 158 KB)
- Standards for the Provision of Early Childhood Special Education (PDF, 319 KB)
- Requirements for Special Education in Accredited-Funded Private Schools (PDF, 189 KB)
- Essential Components of Education Programming – Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (PDF, 120 KB)
- Essential Components of Education Programming – Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (PDF, 125 KB)
- Essential Components of Education Programming – Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (PDF, 130 KB)
- Information Bulletin on Standard for Special Education – Amended June 2004 (PDF, 54 KB)
Schools may need to access information regarding their role in supporting students with medical conditions in school.
Understanding aspects of a student’s medical condition is essential for getting to know the student, planning effective instruction and providing the right level of classroom support.
Important and accurate information about medical conditions can help teachers understand the impact on a student’s learning, social/emotional behaviour and on the classroom environment.
A teacher can be better equipped to choose effective strategies, interventions and supports when they are able to get to know students, including their strengths, interests, abilities and needs.
As supports beyond the education system are often required for students with medical needs, collaboration with parents/guardians, community partners and healthcare providers is necessary to ensure their medical needs are adequately met.
Medical Needs in Schools
- Teaching Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (PDF, 1.3 MB)
- Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (PDF, 2.2 MB)
- Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (PDF, 4.5 MB)
- Redefining Success – Supporting Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (PDF, 11.9 MB)
- Programming for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (PDF, 130 KB)
- Programming for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (PDF, 125 KB)
- Medical/Disability Information for Classroom Teachers
- CanLearn Society
- FASD Alberta
- The Minerva Deaf Research Lab
- Vision Education Alberta
- The IPP/ISP Template B (PDF, 1.0 MB)
Students with learning disabilities have diverse, complex and sometimes interrelated difficulties. These difficulties can be hidden or subtle and affect their learning across their lifespan.
While there is great variability among students with learning disabilities, they are generally described as individuals who have difficulties processing information and who experience unexpected difficulties in academic areas.
These students show strength and success in other learning and processing areas. Learning disabilities are life-long and may be affected by the demands of the environment, so that their impact varies as students grow.
For more information, read Unlocking Potential: Key Components of Programming for Students with Learning Disabilities (PDF, 706 KB).
These optional templates can be used for students identified with a learning disability.
IPP/ISP template A
- Template A – Grades 1 to 3 (PDF, 1.0 MB)
- Template A – Grades 4 to 6 (PDF, 1.1 MB)
- Template A – Grades 7 to 9 (PDF, 1.0 MB)
- Template A – Grades 10 to 12 (PDF, 1.0 MB)
Gifted and talented
School-aged children who are gifted may have different strengths and needs, and may be very different from one another. Each student who is gifted has an individual profile of abilities, needs, interests and learning preferences.
There are a number of general characteristics and developmental issues that often are associated with giftedness and that have important implications for learning.
Common intellectual characteristics of students who are gifted include:
- advanced intellectual achievement
- high motivation and interest
- verbal proficiency
- problem-solving ability
- logical thinking
Some of these characteristics appear in students at all ability levels, but they are more prevalent and pronounced in students who are gifted.
Handbook and programming resources
- Students who are Gifted – Differentiated Instruction (PDF, 212 KB)
- The Journey: A Handbook for Parents (PDF, 2.0 MB)
These optional templates can be used for students identified as gifted and talented.
Social participation refers to how students are able to engage with others in their learning environments.
Through careful consideration of daily routines, activities and the learning environment, teachers can help support students who exhibit challenging behaviours.
This support involves teaching students a more socially appropriate way to get their needs met. In addition, teachers adapt and change their own responses to help students participate in classroom activities successfully.
The Alberta government created a series of books and a webpage for learning teams to use. These resources provide information and strategies for teaching, supporting and reinforcing positive behaviour in the school, classroom and with an individual student requiring support.