Change toward more inclusive practice is a consequence of events taking place across the overall system of education and its parts (e.g., state, region, district, school, classroom). Change occurs as a complex interaction among agents whose functioning depends on their use of the structures and processes established across the system as a whole.
Implementing evidence-based inclusive practices and policies that improve outcomes for all students, including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, requires states and districts to design systemic approaches to improvement. Such approaches should support breaking down isolated practice, integrating and aligning resources and services, creating structures, and redesigning work processes at all levels to improve the collective instructional capacity of the system in supporting higher levels of learning for all children including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
The materials hosted here provide resources that states and districts can use to support systems change effort that will support the inclusion of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in inclusive classrooms.
Resources on Systemic Change
This report presents the findings from a literature review that examined how systems change efforts can guide initiatives to increase and sustain the placement of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in inclusive general education settings, as well as increase and sustain opportunities for these students to learn core academic standards-based curriculum through the implementation of inclusive education practices. The report concludes with the identification of several components associated with effective and sustainable systemic change efforts related to the implementation of inclusive practices.
This brief discusses the characteristics of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, least restrictive environment, legal provisions, and next steps for parents.
A parent describes how her son was included in his private school setting, how the school and family worked together, and the impact it’s had on her son and the school-wide community. In a companion piece, “I Have Great Friends,” her son describes his experiences.
The principal of Henderson K-12 Inclusion School explains how Henderson’s school culture, specialized and individualized instruction, and collaboration and problem solving contribute to an inclusive environment that benefits students with and without disabilities.
The former Director of Student Support Services for Cottonwood-Oak Creek District (Arizona) shares seven lessons learned in making inclusive practices work with a focus on the school district level.
Review of the research on inclusion, presenting the essential practices that create inclusive schools as well the benefits of inclusive education.
Briefly defines inclusive education, before sharing six important strategies for making inclusive service delivery successful.
Shows how a school can restructure the usage of existing school personnel in ways that better support students learning in an inclusive setting. (See the companion piece “Vermont Educators Share Guiding Principles.”)
Shares how student Jaimar Fish’s communication network was expanded through participation in a peer network, how students formed lasting friendships, and how the Kentucky Peer Support Network Project has benefited students with and without disabilities.
Describes how the state of Arizona, a member of the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) consortium, has worked to raise academic expectations for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. A key to this work has been monitoring and sharing relevant data with Arizona educators. The data include information on the characteristics of students with significant cognitive disabilities and their instructional placement, as well as post-school outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities. The article describes professional development efforts to help educators understand, and act on, the data.
Presents ten lessons learned through working toward inclusive education systems, focusing on the systems-level changes that are needed to make inclusion work for students.
Soldovieri describes some of her own schooling experience, and how she came to understand that inclusion is a whole life process. (See “We Expect Them to Teach All Students” for a companion piece.)
After opening with vignettes showing how two boys with similar disabilities experience very different school days, this article details how collaborative teaming is used to provide an inclusive setting and experience for a student with significant disabilities. (See “Unfiltered Truths of Co-Teaching” for a companion piece.)
Presents information about the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) data for students with disabilities. It demonstrates a significant difference in LRE for those students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. (See “The Hope of Lessons Learned: Supporting the Inclusion of Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities Into General Education Classrooms” for more information.)
Beth Foraker, Founder and Director of The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, asks “who’s missing?” in Catholic schools. (See companion pieces “A Family’s Journey of Inclusion and “I Have Great Friends.”)
The Coordinator of the Inclusive Elementary and Special Education Program at Syracuse University (SU) discusses the strategies, principles, and history behind SU’s inclusive education program. (See “To Truly Be Inclusive is a Whole Life Process: Reflections of a SU Graduate” for a companion piece.)
This brief is an electronic interactive Brief which can be used by educators and family members to talk with one another and others about the importance of creating and supporting inclusive school communities.
This briefing by Sherly Lazarus urges educators to commit to sustainable inclusion for all students, including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The briefing outlines several critical components that support sustainable inclusion for students with the most significant disabilities, which include: raising expectations, increasing educator capacity, access to the content, and systems change. Here you can find the written Congressional briefing and opening statements as well as the video footage.
The BPIE Assessment is a school self-assessment process designed to identify priority needs, develop goals, plan improvement strategies, and organize resources to support the implementation of inclusive practices for students with disabilities. More information on the School BPIE Assessment and how it can be used can be found here.
More information on how SISEP provides content and technical assistance toward establishing large-scale, sustainable, high-fidelity implementation of effective educational practices can be found on this website.
TASH, an international leader in disability advocacy, outlines research recommendations for at different capacity levels including at the system-, school-, classroom-, and student-level.