Many administrators and teachers believe they already are doing inclusion. However, if you look closely at the national statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, more than one million students are denied access to the general education curriculum and instruction, and many more have access in name only.
We believe school leaders can examine current practices in their own district to gauge how inclusive the schools actually are.
The list of indicators below, while not exhaustive, is a place to begin critically reflecting on prevailing practices. We hope these statements provide a vehicle for discussion with administrators, teachers and staff.
As you read each statement below, ask yourself whether it reflects the schools in your district.
District Policies and Priorities
• The district vision and priorities focus on inclusive education for every student.
• General and special education administrators are committed to inclusive services for all students and see this as their responsibility.
• General education and special education funds and resources are merged to build staff and system capacity.
• Professional development on establishing/maintaining inclusive services, including collaborating with adults, is provided for all school personnel.
District Placement Systems
• No students are sent to schools or programs outside of the district and there are no schools within the district set aside for students with disabilities.
• All students attend the chronologically age-appropriate schools and classrooms they would attend regardless of ability/disability or native language.
• Percentages of students with disabilities in individual classrooms represent natural proportions within the school building.
School Vision and Climate
• The principal and staff articulate a vision and commitment to inclusive services for every child.
• The principal is knowledgeable about special education service delivery.
• The principal and staff articulate a schoolwide commitment to community building, establishing a climate of belonging and valuing human diversity.
• All teachers (general and special education) are assigned to grade-level or content-area teams.
• Special education teachers support two or three inclusive sections or teachers.
• All special education services are provided seamlessly within the general classroom setting, typically through co-teaching.
• Related services are provided primarily through consultation with the general education teacher and through seamless support in the classroom.
• Time is provided for teams of teachers and paraprofessionals to plan together.
Inclusive Classroom Environments
• All students receive academic instruction in the general education setting.
• No rooms or spaces in the school are reserved for the use of students with disabilities.
• Teachers use ongoing and purposeful community building throughout the year.
• Teachers do not use phrases like “my students” and “Beth’s kids,” but instead refer to all students as “ours,” indicating a belief that all teachers are responsible for all kids.
• Students with disabilities are dispersed throughout the classroom naturally, not clustered together.
• No student (including those with significant disabilities) engages in pullout or alternative activities to the extent that disruptions in the daily schedule and peer interactions occur.
• Lessons are designed to address different modalities and the curriculum is differentiated to meet the needs of all students.
• All students work toward the same standards-based outcomes.
• All students receive access to appropriate technology, communication supports and accommodations to meet their unique needs.
• Students with disabilities are actively participating in the same classroom activities as their peers, rather than simply observing or regularly engaging in alternative or separate tasks.
—Julie Causton-Theoharis, George Theoharis and Christine Ashby