Transitions to Grade 9
The transition from elementary to secondary school is generally considered to be one of the most challenging for adolescents, both with and without LDs. When students are well prepared for this transition, anxiety, and stress can be reduced and students can move forward with confidence.
A student’s Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) is created in Grade 7 and can greatly aid in planning for this transition. When a student has an IEP, a transition plan is a required part of this document. It is the Principal’s responsibility for ensuring that the transition plan is developed in consultation with parents and the student (if appropriate). Typically the plan is developed by a team that could include school board officials, principals, teachers, and others involved in planning and providing special education programs and services. Important information can also be gathered from health care workers, community workers, and others who support students before and after they leave school.
A transition plan supports the student, their family, and their personal support network by doing the following:
- identifying goals for work, further education, and/or community living that:
- reflect actual opportunities and resources that are likely to be available after the student leaves school;
- are achievable by the student, given appropriate supports;
- defining the actions that are necessary year by year to help the student achieve his or her goals; and
- clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the student, family, and others in carrying out these actions.
(Taken from Transition planning: A Resource Guide )
Use the following Elementary to Secondary Transition Planning Checklist to support grade 8 students with LDs to successfully transition to secondary school:
It is important to remember that the transition from elementary to secondary school requires considerations beyond the academic. Schools and educators should also consider how they can support the social-emotional needs of students with LDs to ensure that transitioning new students know where to turn for help and feel at home in their secondary school.
A New School
One of the first challenges new secondary students face is the prospect of learning the layout of their new school. Secondary schools are often much bigger as they incorporate multiple elementary feeder schools. Most students have had up to 8 years to find their way around their school and manage getting themselves and their belongings between classes. In secondary they must now find all their new classes (which change each semester), as well as their locker, the cafeteria, and any administrative offices.
According to Creating Pathways to Success, all secondary schools must provide orientation programs for students and parents to help ease the transition from Grade 8 to Grade 9. These orientation programs should take into account the needs of the individual students and their parents. If transitioning students are deemed to be at risk, Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12 provides additional recommendations, including planning visits to the secondary school, shadowing other students, and meeting school staff ahead of time.
Many schools offer grade 8 students with LDs or other special needs the chance to visit their new secondary school in the summer before the beginning of the new school year. This allows the students a chance to have a staff member show them all the important places in school without fear of being lost or having other students around, which may intimidate them. As a secondary teacher, it may be necessary to check in with your students to ensure that they have had the chance to find everything they need in the school, and if not, organize for a peer to help show them around.
Watch the following video Transitioning Students with LDs from Grade 8 to Grade 9, created in partnership with the Peel District School Board. In this video, educators, administrators, and students describe how creating a strong connection between the secondary school and its local feeder schools supports the transition of all students, especially those with LDs. These schools have eased the transition to secondary school through early engagement with parents and providing students with a combination of positive informal experiences and structured activities. By engaging parents and students early and often, the Peel District School Board gives every student the chance to feel at home in their secondary school.
 Ontario Ministry of Education, 2002