Inclusive Practice

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Planning for inclusion in your school or division begins with the formation of a school- or division-based planning team. Members of this team educate themselves about the ways in which students with disabilities may access the general education curriculum and the steps in planning for this access in their school.


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As a team, they understand that they are facilitators of a process and conduct activities that (1) build the rationale and support for inclusion options and (2) ensure that the options are research-based. The Inclusive practices manual: How to plan for and begin supports‌details the phases, steps, and actions a team would conduct to ensure that its school inclusion efforts are sustained over time.

Readiness  Planning  Implementation  Maintenance  Information  Resources

Selected Readiness Phase Materials

As you prepare to address inclusive practice in your school, start by looking at sample action plans addressing inclusive systems change at either a school levelor a division level. These action plans are created and implemented by a collaborative team; these collaborative team meeting forms and guidelines will help to form and manage that team.

Perhaps the greatest task in the readiness phase is building “buy-in” on the part of all stakeholders. Some materials that can help include an overview of the critical features of effective inclusive practiceand the benefits of and rationales for integrating students with disabilities in general education settings.

As the team reflects on the current status of inclusive placement options and integrated student supports, a school culture survey may be helpful.

Selected Planning Phase Materials

Planning teams often visit inclusive classrooms in other schools; it is helpful to take along some questions‌to ask staff when visiting.

Refer to IEP resources to ensure that student IEPs reflect the availability of a continuum of placement options and that appropriate integrated supports are included on the IEP services and placement page‌.

It is imperative that the team create steps in scheduling students with disabilities so that students are in the right place and receive the right supports. This may be different from the typical way guidance counselors schedule students. A matrix of support can help staff collect information to create inclusive, balanced classrooms.

Selected Implementation Phase Materials

Students with disabilities who can receive a range of supports. Many will receive instruction in a classroom that has two teachers for some or all of a class period. Establishing guidelines for collaborative classrooms can help clarify what the teachers should know and do. Specific roles and responsibilities can also help.

At the beginning of the year, it is a good idea for collaborating teachers develop classroom procedures and consider other factors relevant to planning an effective inclusive classroom. Just as the planning team uses a collaborative team meeting process, teachers who collaborate for all or part of the week can use a co-planning meeting record during their regular planning meetings.

Administrators can use the inclusion quality indicators and observation form to provide guidance to teachers related to their inclusive classrooms.

Selected Maintenance Phase Materials

Survey teachers, parents‌, students, and other stakeholders as appropriate regarding inclusive practices in the school and the division. Use this information as well as observation and record review to help the team amend, revise, and replace the inclusive structures and materials as needed.

Additional Information

The Virginia Department of Education’s Statewide Inclusive Placement Opportunities for Preschoolers (IPOP) initiative aims to increase options for children with disabilities to be included in settings with children without disabilities in school divisions’ preschool programs and community preschools. School and division-level teams can use the IPOP manual‌to expand or develop inclusive placements for preschoolers with disabilities.

Recommended Resources

Each title is available online or can be checked out of our lending library.

  • Buysse, V. and Wesley, P. (2005). Consultation in early childhood settings. Baltimore: Brookes.
  • Improving access to the general education curriculum for students with disabilities through collaborative teaching website. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research Access Center.
  • Downing, J. (2002). Including students with severe and multiple disabilities in typical classrooms: Practical strategies for teachers. Baltimore: Brookes.
  • Friends of inclusion website. Toronto, ON: Marsha Forest Centre.
  • Grisham-Brown, J., Hemmeter, M.L., and Pretti-Frontzak, K. (2005). Blended practices for teaching young children in inclusive settings. Baltimore: Brookes.
  • Inclusion considerations for students with disabilities website. Nashville, TN: IRIS Center for Faculty Enhancement.
  • Janney, R. and Snell, M. (2004). Modifying schoolwork. Baltimore: Brookes.
  • Sandall, S., Hemmeter, M.L., Smith, B., and McLean, M. (2005). Division for Early Childhood recommended practices: A comprehensive guide for practical application in early intervention/early childhood special education. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.
  • Snell, M. and Janney, R. (2004). Collaborative teaming. Baltimore: Brookes.
  • Villa, R. and Thousand, J., eds. (2005). Creating an inclusive school. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.