Few Ontario special needs students go on to PSE, study finds

February 10, 2012

According to a new report commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, relatively few secondary school students with special needs go on to PSE. Using 2006 data from the Toronto District School Board for its study of Grade 11 and 12 special needs students, the report observes that special needs students rated their academic programs much less favourably, spent less time on homework, and had less social engagement. A higher proportion of these students dropped out of secondary school or went directly into the workforce. The report found that just 18% confirmed university acceptance compared to 58% of non-special needs students. By contrast, more special needs students confirmed college acceptance (23.9%) than did students without special needs (14.2%). The study includes input from an expert panel of representatives from Ontario's education ministry, school boards, PSE institutions, and academic community, who identified transition planning as an important issue. Panellists cited a need to reconcile the different meanings of "special needs" at the K-12 and PSE level, noting that difference in definitional requirements can lead to gaps in support services for students transitioning from secondary school to PSE. Research Summary | Full Report