Creating an Inclusive School Environment: A Model for School Leaders

Perspectives & Resources



By completing the entire Perspectives & Resources section and reviewing the accompanying activities, the learner will:

  • Understand the concept of inclusion and why it is important
  • Possess the knowledge required to lead the change to create an inclusive school environment
  • Understand how to create a climate for inclusion
  • Recognize how to sustain an inclusive school environment


This IRIS Module aligns with the following licensure and program standards and topic areas. Click the arrows below to learn more.

CAEP standards for the accreditation of educators are designed to improve the quality and effectiveness not only of new instructional practitioners but also the evidence-base used to assess those qualities in the classroom.

  • Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge

CEC standards encompass a wide range of ethics, standards, and practices created to help guide those who have taken on the crucial role of educating students with disabilities.

  • Standard 2: Learning Environments

The DEC Recommended Practices are designed to help improve the learning outcomes of young children (birth through age five) who have or who are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities. Please note that, because the IRIS Center has not yet developed resources aligned with DEC Topic 8: Transition, that topic is not currently listed on this page.


  • L1. Leaders create a culture and a climate in which practitioners feel a sense of belonging and want to support the organization’s mission and goals.
  • L2. Leaders promote adherence to and model the DEC Code of Ethics, DEC Position Statements and Papers, and the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L3. Leaders develop and implement policies, structures, and practices that promote shared decision making with practitioners and families.
  • L4. Leaders belong to professional association(s) and engage in ongoing evidence-based professional development.
  • L5. Leaders advocate for policies and resources that promote the implementation of the DEC Position Statements and Papers and the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L6. Leaders establish partnerships across levels (state to local) and with their counterparts in other systems and agencies to create coordinated and inclusive systems of services and supports
  • L7. Leaders develop, refine, and implement policies and procedures that create the conditions for practitioners to implement the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L8. Leaders work across levels and sectors to secure fiscal and human resources and maximize the use of these resources to successfully implement the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L9. Leaders develop and implement an evidence-based professional development system or approach that provides practitioners a variety of supports to ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to implement the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L10. Leaders ensure practitioners know and follow professional standards and all applicable laws and regulations governing service provision.
  • L11. Leaders collaborate with higher education, state licensing and certification agencies, practitioners, professional associations, and other stakeholders to develop or revise state competencies that align with DEC, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and other national professional standards.
  • L12. Leaders collaborate with stakeholders to collect and use data for program management and continuous program improvement and to examine the effectiveness of services and supports in imp roving child and family outcomes.
  • L13. Leaders promote efficient and coordinated service delivery for children and families by creating the conditions for practitioners from multiple disciplines and the family to work together as a team.
  • L14. Leaders collaborate with other agencies and programs to develop and implement ongoing community-wide screening procedures to identify and refer children who may need additional evaluation and services.


  • E1. Practitioners provide services and supports in natural and inclusive environments during daily routines and activities to promote the child’s access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E2. Practitioners consider Universal Design for Learning principles to create accessible environments.
  • E3. Practitioners work with the family and other adults to modify and adapt the physical, social, and temporal environments to promote each child’s access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E4. Practitioners work with families and other adults to identify each child’s needs for assistive technology to promote access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E5. Practitioners work with families and other adults to acquire or create appropriate assistive technology to promote each child’s access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E6. Practitioners create environments that provide opportunities for movement and regular physical activity to maintain or improve fitness, wellness, and development across domains.

InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards are designed to help teachers of all grade levels and content areas to prepare their students either for college or for employment following graduation.

  • Standard 10: Leadership and Collaboration

NCATE standards are intended to serve as professional guidelines for educators. They also overview the “organizational structures, policies, and procedures” necessary to support them.

  • Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions

When you are ready, proceed to Page 1.

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