Friday, October 23, 2009

Strategic Survey Conceals Government Negligence

The Ministry of Education has asked the 16 school boards directed to provide the so-called ABA in the schools, to conduct a survey with the families they support. This survey has been structured in a manner that does not allow parents to communicate the truth about what their child is or (more importantly) is not receiving in the schools.
Notice that the option for "None of the Time" is missing.
You can see it here, or download the pdf version here.

This would be funny if it was not so frustrating and absolutely indicative of how self-serving, inefficient and wasteful the administration who should be helping our children is. The next step to improve the results of the survey would be to remove the "some of the time" option. Why not? It would look great on reports. I wonder if it will be possible to find the person or people responsible for approving wasting money on that survey. I just wonder...

Parents of autistic kids have reacted strongly to this and are sending numerous letters to the Ombudsman office. I have posted them as comments.


  1. Oct. 21, 2009

    Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
    Bell Trinity Square
    483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
    Toronto, ON
    M5G 2C9

    Oct. 20
    Dear Mr. Barber,

    As a stakeholder and a parent I am very concerned with the process and steps that have taken place in providing reliable and correct data to fulfill a Ministry of Education commitment. In a memo of April 2009 the Director of Special Education Policy and Programs Branch requested assistance from all School Board Directors and Superintendents to provide accurate assessments that would be used for statistical data summaries that would measure success on the implementation of PPM 140 for all school boards in the province.

    The Ministry's Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat stresses the importance of using "research, evidence-based inquiry and data-based decision-making" to improve student achievement. Ministry reports, including Education for All (2005) and Special Education Transformation (2006), also support this position. Decision-making and educational practices require the collection of superior data. The importance of reliable research was documented in the Auditor General's recent 2008 report on Special Education – Chapter 3 Section 3.14.

    The process that has taken place to inform Ministry policies regarding implementation of PPM 140 was inherently flawed from the very beginning. Usually when one is serious about collecting data that accurately reflects the situation an independent audit or a statistically valid independent survey is undertaken. Instead, the Ministry of Education recommended that principals provide self- assessment summaries as the only evaluative feedback compiled by school boards. Apparently the Ministry did not feel it would be necessary to include any results from the parent -completed surveys , "Please note that the Ministry will not be collecting the results of parent-completed surveys" Never mind that so called parent-surveys were unavailable to the majority of parents.

    It is ironic that the policy at the center of discussion is the same one that aims to strengthen collaborative working relationships between parents –"This memorandum is intended to strengthen collaborative working relationships between parents, schools, and the community", "It is essential that school board staff work with parents".

    In conclusion, I am asking for your help and assistance to investigate this matter and to provide me with a full explanation as to how this Ministry commitment to monitor the implementation of PPM 140 will be fulfilled in a way that will accurately inform and guide programming decisions and recommendations to the Minister's Advisory Council on Special Education.


    Lisa Prasuhn
    cc. Jim McCarter
    Auditor General of Ontario

  2. Dear Sir:
    While you have undoubtedly received numerous complaints about the PPM 140 survey, I would like to point out another gross omission in that survey – it does not seek to find out how many autistic school age children are NOT in the public school system and what alternative arrangements families have made for their children’s education and care because they have finally given up on the school board and government.

    I am the parent of a school aged child with autism that has been in and out of the public school system in Kindergarten and Grade 1 because the school board did not permit him to attend with ABA therapist and did not have services to meet his needs. We ultimately withdrew our child from the public school and he now attends a private school that has several children with various learning disabilities, small classes, a modified curriculum and that DOES allow the ABA therapist to attend school with our son. He is thriving in that type of environment and becoming less dependent on the ABA support although she continues to be available on an as-needed basis. This alternative is not available to most families as it comes at a great financial cost. But it is an example of the sacrifices families will make to get their autistic children into a learning environment where they will thrive and reach their potential. The public school system is failing miserably and an alternative system should be seriously considered.

    I believe that, if a thorough survey was made of all school-aged children with autism the ministry would get a better indication of where these kids are, if not in school and therefore what kind of educational environments meet their needs. Then perhaps the government should consider creating alternative schools for our autistic kids or provide funding so the families can pay for private schools that provide the service, because obviously the public schools cannot despite having a lot of time and money to figure it out – our kids don’t need consultants at the school board or teachers and EAs taking crash courses. They need ABA SUPPORTS IN THE CLASSROOM.

    Thank you for your attention herein.