Special Education Programs


Definition of Giftedness                                                                

An unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated.

WCDSB Gifted Criteria

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board uses a cognitive screening tool (Canadian Cognitive Abilities Test Form 7 – CCAT7) and an educational assessment to determine gifted learning needs in students. Scores at or above the 98th percentile in two or more batteries of the CCAT indicate very superior cognitive functioning and high academic potential. The educational assessment analyses and summarizes the achievement levels, learning style, characteristics of giftedness, and strengths and needs of the student. Together, these assessments form the basis of a recommendation for development of Gifted Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the student.

Identification Process

The WCDSB identification process involves a mass screening of students in Grade 4 and/or individual screening.

  • Grade 4 Mass Screening. As a group test, the CCAT7 is administered to all Grade 4 students at each school. Students scoring at or above the 98th percentile in two or more batteries of the CCAT7 will be recommended for further assessment to determine the need for the development of an Individual Education Plan.
  • Individual Screening. Parents and teachers may collaborate to recommend a student to be considered for CCAT7 assessment. If a CCAT7 screen is recommended, the WCDSB Itinerant Teacher of the Gifted will administer the test and provide feedback to parents and staff regarding the results.

Programs & Services

  • Classroom Programs. The foundation of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is built on the principles of inclusive education. Therefore, students in the WCDSB whose learning needs are identified as gifted receive modifications to the curriculum in their regular class.  Modified expectations needs may include curriculum compacting, guided independent study with a curriculum unit, learning contracts, flexible grouping, varied product choices, tiered activities, and complex questions.
  • School-Based Opportunities. Enrichment opportunities may be facilitated at the school level by mentorship, competitions, supervised special projects, clubs, and invitational opportunities specific to each elementary and secondary school community.
  • Board-Based Elementary Gifted Education Workshops. The Waterloo Catholic District School Board provides opportunities for identified students working on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to congregate together and offers Gifted Education Workshops (one day workshops each month). The programs are offered to students in the junior (grades 4-6) and intermediate (grades 7-8) divisions, and are the responsibility of the Itinerant Teacher of the Gifted.   The goals of the programs are to provide depth, challenge, stimulation and inspiration in activities that span a variety of disciplines and offer a variety of themes, venues and guest instructors. Cooperation, interaction and friendships are facilitated and encouraged during these one day events to make them a positive experience for all student participants.
  • University Co-operative Education Program (UCEP). The Waterloo Catholic District School Board offers the University Cooperative Education Program (UCEP) in partnership with St. Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University for identified gifted and academically talented students.  This program provides students who have achieved high academic success to experience university life before leaving secondary school. In this program, students can earn a university credit, one or two Grade 12 secondary school credits (taught by secondary school teachers at the university), and two Co-op credits.

2018-2019 Enrichment Opportunities Beyond the ClassroomOnline

Secondary School Special Education Programs

In some cases, students entering secondary school require a differentiated program as they work toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, an Ontario Secondary School Certificate or a Certificate of Accomplishment.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board operates three programs in each secondary school that have been designed for students with an IEP who have not met level 1 grade 8 expectations.

  • Essential Program
  • ACTIVE Program
  • Community Living Program.

For some students, achievement of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, Ontario Secondary School Certificate or Certificate of Accomplishment may take longer than four years.

The Essential Program

This program is designed for students whose Individual Education Plan indicates the student is working on grade 5-7 expectations from the Ontario Curriculum in Mathematics and Science and/or English.

In grades 9 and 10, students in the Essential Program will take special courses for credit in Mathematics and Science and/or English. They will also take a special education learning strategies course for credit that will assist the students to be successful in their grade 9 and 10 program. Upon successful completion of the grade 9 and 10 Essential Program, students will be prepared to study workplace preparation courses in grades 11 and 12. Students in the Essential Program will work to successfully complete the required 30 credits to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Students who experience difficulty in meeting the requirements of this program may choose to focus on meeting the requirements for the Ontario Secondary Certificate with the understanding that they may continue to work towards a diploma at a later date.

The Essential Mathematics, Science and English courses are locally developed courses approved by the Ministry of Education. “Locally developed course are courses that meet the educational needs not met by provincial curriculum policy documents.” (OSS, p. 43).

The ACTIVE Program

Achievement or Accomplishment, Certificate or Community Training In View of Employment (ACTIVE)

View the ACTIVE Program Brochure PDF