The Provincial Committee on Learning Disabilities (PCLD) governs the placement process for school boards applying for services on behalf of a student. The admissions criteria and procedures for a demonstration school are outlined in Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 89 – The Demonstration Schools for Students with Learning Disabilities: General Information and Details of the Referral Process.
Applications for support for a student either through Resource Support Services or a placement at a demonstration school program are made by district school boards in accordance with PPM 89.
In addition to the admissions criteria outlined in PPM 89, the PCLD looks for the following characteristics in applicants which experience has shown are most appropriate for the programs offered at demonstration schools in terms of needs and strengths.
- Pervasive language difficulties involving the decoding of language for learning, thinking, remembering, conversing; such students demonstrate severe difficulties in a general sense with the listening/learning/memory demands of the classroom, particularly in the later grades; for some, verbal expressive abilities may appear more intact;
- Marked weakness in phonological and phonemic awareness, the most powerful predictors of reading success and regarded as the core deficit in severe reading disability, or dyslexia;
- Very weak academic achievement, particularly in reading skills (mostly grade equivalents of 1 to 3 on standardized tests) despite many years and methods of remediation; in some students reading comprehension is somewhat higher but basic decoding skills have remained very weak and make reading a very slow and onerous process;
- Spelling and writing skills far below grade expectations;
- Somewhat higher achievement in mathematical skills;
- Sometimes additional difficulties in areas such as fine- and gross-motor coordination, visual-motor integration, concentration/attention;
- At least average learning skills when information is not mediated through reading or writing; also, more success in hands-on learning situations such as mechanics and sports;
- Emotional reactions primarily related to the chronic deprivation of success in their school histories; these could include low motivation, discouragement, embarrassment, task avoidance, poor self-esteem, and over-dependence on assistance;
- Most students are between the ages of 11 and 15 at the time of application.