System change that creates a pathway for inclusive education for all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities, is purposeful and planful. It supports district-wide leadership and organizational practices that research shows promote high-quality education for all students. Leadership at all levels of the system (e.g., state, district, and school) creates a strong driver for moving and sustaining inclusive and equitable schools for all students. 

Within the larger system of schooling, the district plays a key role in creating an inclusive vision that is implemented across its multiple schools and classrooms. A unifying message from the central office along with supportive policies and practices provides direction and support to schools, helping them implement and sustain inclusive, equitable practices. Districts achieve these improvements in performance by promoting system-wide learning, prioritizing teaching and learning, using support and accountability structures to build system-wide capacity, and fostering open and collaborative cultures to improve opportunities and outcomes for all students.

Systems Change Videos

TIES Center created a series of videos to support districts in implementing and sustaining inclusive education. The videos describe the key components of system change that lead to powerful inclusive systems for all students. They are designed to be used by individual leaders for their own professional growth as well as for professional development with district teams. More information and resources that supplement the video series will be provided in the near future. 

Video #1: Inclusive Instructional and Organizational Leadership

Sustainable, inclusive education systems for students with significant cognitive disabilities do not stand alone. Districts must focus on building inclusive education systems for all students…systems that embrace all students for the benefit of all. Based on the research, there are four key strategies for guiding LEA actions: (1) Promote System-Wide Learning, (2) Prioritize the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, (3) Build Capacity Through Support and Accountability, and (4) Sustain an Open and Collaborative Culture 

Inclusive Instructional and Organizational Leadership with captions

Inclusive Instructional and Organizational Leadership with captions and audio descriptions

Video #2:  System Wide Learning

For a district to build an effective and inclusive system, it must adopt and sustain  system-wide learning practices grounded in effective data use. Not all educators are familiar with how to build data systems or comfortable with using data systems to answer important questions. Assisting districts in focusing their work, identifying needs, and developing data systems, as well as accessing and using their data for continual improvement are value added services that SEAs can provide to districts. Gathering meaningful data and using those data well are necessary practices to support systems change; they are necessary for building inclusive systems for all students.

System-wide Learning with captions

System-wide Learning with captions and audio descriptions

Video #3: Prioritizing Teaching and Learning

The central mission of schools and districts is teaching and learning. In effective systems, all participants are learners--both the students and the adults. For sustainable change to occur, districts need to prioritize teaching and learning by focusing their goals and strategies in this area, employing administrators who serve as lead learners, providing staff with multiple opportunities to learn to use evidence-based practices, and providing the resources that support professional learning. 

Prioritizing Teaching and Learning video with captions

Prioritizing Teaching and Learning video with captions and audio descriptions

Video #4: Building Capacity through Support and Accountability

Effective and inclusive districts build capacity for high-quality instruction, equitable community engagement, professional teaming, and productive decision-making. Districts build the capacity of all personnel and hold all personnel accountable for the education of all students. This type of accountability--high expectations coupled with appropriate supports--is sometimes called “reciprocal accountability.”

Building Capacity through Support and Accountability with captions

Building Capacity through Support and Accountability with captions and audio

Video #5: Sustaining a Culture of Openness and Inquiry

Districts need to shape their organizational cultures in ways that make those cultures collaborative, caring, ethical, equitable, and amendale to positive change. Building a collaborative culture that values the contributions of all members and is open to self-reflection and learning is key to the development of sustainable, inclusive systems. 

Sustaining a Culture of Openness and Inquiry with captions

Sustaining a Culture of Openness and Inquiry with captions and audio descriptions

Resources on Systemic Change