Core Value #1 Equal value

Each and every student is valued and contributes to their school community and general education classrooms.

Equitable practices for all students regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, socio-economic status, or ability are essential components of an inclusive school. Schooling practices should reflect that each and every student is equally capable of contributing and building meaningful relationships in the school community. Exclusionary practices and the implicit biases sustaining them must be replaced with practices and beliefs that offer an expanded view of what it means to be a valued contributing member of society.

A group of students who appear to be elementary school age at a school playground.

Core Value #2: Common educational experience

Each and every student deserves meaningful and sustained access to the general education curriculum in general education classrooms. 

All students have the right to a high-quality and inclusive educational experience. Ideally, districts and schools should assign students to general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools or school of choice. With the right kind of support, each and every student can benefit academically, socially, and emotionally.

Three elementary aged students in a classroom. The student in front is using a wheelchair. All 3 students appear to be engaged in individual work in the classroom.

Core Value #3: High expectations for instruction and learning

Each and every student is a capable learner deserving of instruction that reflects high expectations and assures learning.  

Instructional teams design goals, instruction, curriculum, and learning environments supported by best practices to reduce barriers and provide flexible options that support learning. Educators must anticipate and support student success to meaningfully achieve challenging academic, social, emotional, communication, and other essential skills.

An elementary-aged student with down's syndrome who is high-fiving an adult. Only the adult's arm and hand are visible. The student is seated at a desk.

Core Value #4: Ongoing collaboration

Inclusive education requires ongoing and robust collaboration.

Inclusive education is a paradigm shift. It requires the shared engagement and combined skills of many people—general education teachers, special education teachers, specialized support personnel such as related service providers and technology specialists, paraprofessionals, district and school leaders, families, and students. When stakeholders engage in collaborative planning, delivery, and assessment of inclusive education, success is more likely.

Two adult women and one child are walking together outside near a restaurant. The two women are each holding a hand of the girl, who is using a wheelchair. They are all smiling.

Core Value #5: District-wide focus

Leadership at the district level that keeps a sustained and systemic focus on teaching and learning is central to improving the outcomes for each and every student.

Drawing from an evidence-based leadership practice, this value supports districts to develop inclusive education by prioritizing the teaching and learning of each and every student. The school district is an essential unit of change. It has the responsibility for establishing and maintaining the focus on and coherence of instruction. This focus requires monitoring, evaluating, and refining the work to improve inclusive educational practices in each school and classroom, district-wide. 

A group of students in a science class. The class is working on projects where they are examining plant leaves in the microscope. A teacher is assisting a young man with down's syndrome.

Core Value #6: Support for sustainable culture of inclusion

State and district support is needed to sustain a culture of inclusion in schools.

Sustaining  a culture of inclusion in schools requires a long-term, ongoing commitment and support by the state and districts. Inclusive and equitable education has never been the norm in American schooling. Continuous support from the state and districts over many years is needed for policies and practices to reject the cultural value of separateness and promote the cultural value of inclusiveness.

A group of students in an auditorium. One student is showing another student who is in a wheelchair something on her phone. The student in the wheelchair is wearing a hijab.

Core Value #7: Continuous improvement

Effective inclusive environments are maintained through continuous improvement cycles focusing on what works and what needs to be adjusted.

Continual evaluation supports improvement of critical strategies for doing and sustaining what works--at the state, district, school, classroom, student, and family level. Ongoing job embedded professional development and learning in districts and schools is required for the implementation of effective inclusive environments.

Three male middle-aged students in a cafeteria. Two of the students are fist-bumping. All students are smiling.