• Facebook
  • OSPI on Twitter
  • OSPI Medium
  • OSPI LinkedIn
  • OSPI YouTube
  • OSPI on Flickr
  • Subscribe to OSPI GovDelivery

You are here

Home » Policy & Funding » Special Education » Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project

Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project

All students have a right to meaningfully participate in the general education setting, both academically and socially to the fullest extent possible. Inclusion is realized when all students, regardless of their designation to receive special education services, are provided with targeted services, supports, and accommodations; allowing them to learn in the general education classroom, interact with peers, and engage the core curriculum. 

To support more inclusive schools in Washington, the State Legislature provided OSPI with $25M for the 2019-21 biennium and $12M for the 2021-23 biennium to provide educators with professional development opportunities in support of inclusionary practices across the state. 

When the IPP began in 2019, Washington was one of the ten least inclusive states in the nation, and while Washington has made great strides in the last two years, we remain in the bottom half of national rankings. Moving Washington towards a more robust and self-sustaining system of inclusion is going to take continued time and effort across all levels of the education system. The good news is, the data from the first two years of IPP show Washington is ready to take the leap and build more inclusive educational cultures and systems. 

Our goal for the first two years of the IPP, by spring 2021, was to increase LRE 1 (access to general education for 80-100% of the day) to 60 percent for students receiving special education services. By the end of 2020, Washington met this goal, and IPP pilot districts showed an increase in LRE1 of over 11%! Now that the project has been funded for two more years, we need to set a new goal for spring 2023. To determine what the 2023 spring inclusion goal will be, OSPI is seeking a recommendation from the 2021-22 Special Education State Design Team’s Inclusionary Practices Focus Group. Learn more about the State Design Team and how to become a partner

Project Design and Implementation

Definition: Inclusion is the belief that all students have a right to meaningfully participate in the general education setting, both academically and socially. Inclusion is realized when all students, regardless of their designation to receive special education services, are provided with targeted services, supports, and accommodations; allowing them to learn in the general education classroom, interact with peers, and engage the core curriculum. Inclusive instruction rebukes the problematic perspective that students receiving special education services need to ‘fit in’ or ‘earn their way’ into general education classes. The belief that general education instruction is not malleable and that students should be making adaptations to be included in the general education setting has contributed to the continuation of two parallel systems of education in which students receiving special education services are marginalized and devalued because of their environmental segregation. 

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) data are a measure of the percent of a school day a student with a disability spends in general education settings. While there are multiple measures included in LRE calculation, for the purposes of the Inclusive Practices PD Project, data analysis focused on: 

  • LRE 1: Placed in general education for 80-100% of the school day 
  • LRE 2: Placed in general education for 40-79% of the school day 
  • LRE 3: Placed in general education for 0-39% of the school day 

Legislative Foundations: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires students with disabilities be educated in the LRE. For nearly all students the LRE mandate means that students receiving special education services be educated in the general education classroom to the maximum extent possible. Regarding LRE, IDEA states, “The placement of children in special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily–34 C.F.R. § 300.114(a)(2).” 

Inclusion Benefits Everyone: Extensive research on the efficacy of inclusion shows that inclusive instruction yields significant improvements in the academic performance of students receiving special education services–in all subjects–and improvements in social and emotional outcomes as compared to teaching in separate settings. Students who received special education services, who spend 80-100% of their time in the regular classroom, develop better working habits, improved self-esteem, are more attentive, have improved social competencies, and have more diverse friendship networks. Students who do not have an identified disability or an individual education program (IEP) also see improved academic outcomes as the high-leverage teaching techniques used in inclusive classrooms [e.g., multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), universal design for learning (UDL), specially designed instruction (SDI), and culturally responsive teaching (CRT)] help all students learn in ways that work best for their individual styles and needs. These students also see improved social outcomes as they learn to see beyond people’s disabilities and develop a greater appreciation for diversity. 

Coaching/Mentoring Supports: The Washington State Standards for Mentoring “are designed to help both new and veteran mentors in various job settings to assess their current level of understanding and abilities, and to create actionable steps to improve.” The Standards for Mentoring include Learning-Focused Relationships; Reflective Practices; Adult Learning; Equitable Practices; Curriculum; and Connection to Systems and Learning Communities. Lipton and Wellman (2009) considered coaching along a continuum of interactive supports or stances, including coaching, collaborating, consulting, and calibrating.  

Research on how schools can successfully implement inclusionary practices continually cite professional development for educators as an essential component. Providing an inclusive environment for students means that educators collaborate frequently and have a strong grasp on how to differentiate general education lessons to accommodate all students' learning styles and needs. This means that inclusionary professional development must focus on building collaboration skills and how to utilize high-leverage practices [i.e., MTSS, UDL/SDI, CRT]. When professional development is done correctly and administrative leadership is dedicated to a culture of inclusion, educators are shown to have positive feelings about inclusion and feel confident in their ability to teach all students. 

Data analysis and problems of practice laid the foundation for development of a theory of action toward meaningful inclusion for all students. This theory of action identifies the needed inputs to support inclusive activities, focused on positive outputs and outcomes—across settings, content areas, and stakeholder partnerships—for sustainable systems change.  

A culturally responsive approach centers the experiences of students with disabilities and their families, particularly students of color and groups who have traditionally been denied a voice in decision making.  

The Inclusionary Practices Theory of Action focuses on resources needed by stakeholder partners in support of direct actions for implementing inclusive learning environments. 

Logic Model

If we provide statewide support to target audiences that is consistent in the areas of: 

  • Coaching/mentoring 
  • State and local capacity to demonstrate positive peer relationships  
  • State and local capacity to utilize the expertise of WA public education faculty, staff and leaders 
  • Strengthen and align existing professional development and support activities 
  • Engaging parents and families  
  • Building student independence 

Educators will be able to increase access to grade level core instruction through the inclusion of students eligible for special education services in general education classrooms. 

Resulting in improved LRE data, graduation rates, English Language Arts and math proficiency growth, and schools quality or student success indicators for students statewide. 

We aim to increase access to grade level core instruction through the inclusion of students eligible for special education services in general education settings, and results in LRE data, as defined by Indicator 5 in the Annual Performance Report (APR), and improved outcomes as measured by the Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF), specifically in graduation rates, English Language Arts and math proficiency and growth, and school quality or student success indicators (SQSS).  

Inclusionary Practices Project Activity Map

This interactive map shows where the Professional Development Cadre is engaging educators, and where our Pilot LEAs and Demonstration Sites are located.

Inclusionary Practices GIS Map

Project Highlights

Professional Development

OSPI has partnered with multiple professional development providers to offer professional development on inclusionary practices at no cost to schools and districts across the state.  

University of Washington (UW) Demonstration Sites

In the Fall of 2019, OSPI partnered with The University of Washington Haring Center for Inclusive Education to coordinate and lead model demonstration sites that highlight inclusionary practices across Washington State. The demonstration sites project was developed to provide educators from around the state, teaching in preschool through high school, with the opportunity to observe inclusionary practices in action, meet with school teams, collect artifacts that aid in systems-change, and learn about how to implement inclusionary practices in different school contexts.

The model demonstration sites engage in and provide transformational professional development by using storytelling and best practices in model demonstration site replication and dissemination to allow for the greatest impact while visiting schools leave with evidence-based practices and resources to aid in building inclusive communities in their own schools. 

Please visit the UW demonstration site website to learn more about our IPP demonstration sites, how to apply to be a demonstration site and to obtain valuable resources and artifacts from our sites.

TIES Center Technical Assistance

In fall 2019, Washington was selected to receive support from the TIES Center, a national provider of technical assistance on inclusive practices and policies. The goal of the partnership is to increase the meaningful inclusion of all students by first focusing on the inclusion of students with significant cognitive disabilities.

The technical assistance provided by the TIES Center is grounded in four foundational pillars: 

  1. Increased Time and number of students in general education. 
  2. Increased Instructional effectiveness. 
  3. Increased Engagement, including communicative competence. 
  4. Increased State support for inclusive practices.   

While in Washington, the TIES Center will provide intensive technical assistance to OSPI, the IPP Professional Development Cadre, and the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) to create sustainable change in kindergarten through grade 8, so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers, while also receiving additional specialized instruction in a way that meets individual learning needs.

Starting in the fall of 2021, OSPI and the Lake Washington School District will take part in the piloting of the Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER), a new set of tools, guidance, and capacity-building content to establish inclusive education systems at the state, district, school, and team levels. Watch this video to learn more about the IER and the piloting process.

In collaboration with the University of Washington Haring Center and practitioners in the state of Washington, the TIES Center has published a new tool to assist teams in developing inclusive IEPs for students with significant cognitive disabilities. This resource, Comprehensive Inclusive Education: General Education Curriculum and the Inclusive IEP, is intended to guide IEP teams in a comprehensive inclusive education planning process based on the expectation that each student can actively participate, belong, contribute, and learn in the school and larger community.