What is inclusion and why is it important?

Page 3: Why Should School Environments Become Inclusive?

To better meet the diverse needs of all students, school personnel should work toward making their school more inclusive. Bringing about such changes, however, will require strong leadership. As school leaders, principals can encourage and inspire the entire school community to work in extraordinary ways, are uniquely situated to guide the process of creating an inclusive school, and are generally best able to foster the conditions necessary for this change to occur. School leaders who contemplate major school changes such as creating a more inclusive school environment often consider several imperatives: legal, professional, and moral.

Legal Imperative
To build an inclusive school, leaders must have a thorough knowledge of legislation related to the education of children. Implicit in that legislation is the expectation that education will occur in inclusive settings. Toward that end, the law outlines what school personnel must do in regard to educating students.

NCLB (ESEA – Elementary and Secondary Education Act) IDEA 2004 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ADA
Purpose
  • Raise academic achievement of all students
  • Close achievement gap between groups of students who historically perform poorly and their higher performing peers
  • Ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them FAPE that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living
  • Ensure the rights of individuals with disabilities and of their parents
  • Protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities
  • Prevent any form of discrimination against individuals with disabilities by entities (including schools) that receive federal funding
  • Protect civil rights of individuals with disabilities
  • Prevent any form of discrimination against individuals with disabilities; focused on access to public services, employment, transportation, public accommodations, and tele-communications
Who it applies to
  • All students
  • All students who have 1 of 14 specified disabilities that negatively impact their academic performance
  • Individuals (of all ages) who have mental or physical impairments that may not fall in one of the IDEA disability categories
  • Individuals whose mental or physical impairments affect a major life activity
  • Individuals (of all ages) who have disabilities that may not fall in one of the IDEA disability categories
  • Individuals whose mental or physical impairments affect a major life activity

Note: Applies to every entity except churches and private clubs.

Who it applies to
  • Assess at least 95% all students in reading/ language arts and math
  • Ensure the availability of reasonable adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities
  • Have highly qualified teachers in every classroom
  • Have annual yearly progress (AYP) monitored
  • Provide FAPE
  • Identify and locate students with disabilities who need special education services
  • Ensure that all special education teachers are highly qualified
  • Evaluate every child suspected of having a disability
  • Develop an IEP for students identified as having a disability that negatively impacts their performance
  • Provide services in the LRE
  • Provide procedural safeguards to children and their families
  • Include all students with disabilities in state- and district-wide assessments
  • Annually identify students with disabilities who are not being served
  • Establish nondiscriminatory evaluation and placement procedures
  • Provide FAPE
  • Establish procedural safeguards to children and their families
  • Afford students with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in nonacademic and extra-curricular activities
  • Not discriminate against students with disabilities
  • Provide FAPE
  • Establish procedural safeguards to children and their families

Adapted from Postsecondary Education Consortium (2005).

Professional Imperative
Whereas legislation outlines what school personnel must do in regard to educating students, professional standards help guide school leaders in how to effectively educate all students in an inclusive school environment. These standards, by which principals are evaluated and ultimately held accountable, support creating a school in which the needs of all students are met.

In general, professional standards are intended to guide school leaders in creating effective schools in which all students are viewed as capable of learning and are challenged. These professional standards for school leaders promote the creation of inclusive school environments. Three national organizations that support principals or provide guidance regarding such standards are highlighted in the table below.

logo NASSP logo NASEP logo CSSSO
Sponsored by CCSSO, the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) developed a set of standards based on input from representatives of state departments of education from across the country and from national leadership organizations. The standards have been adopted or adapted by most states. NAESP is a prominent organization for elementary and middle school principals and other school leaders. The mission of NAESP is to advocate for and support school leaders in the education of all children. This organization has created its own standards. NASSP is a leading organization for middle and high school principals, assistant principals, and future school leaders. The mission of NASSP is to “promote excellence in school leadership.” This organization helped develop and revise the ISLLC standards and subsequently adopted them.
www.ccsso.org www.naesp.org www.nassp.org

 

Listen as Joseph Murphy and John Nori discuss how professional standards reflect the role of the modern principal as an instructional leader rather than a manager.

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Joseph Murphy, PhD
Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Education
Vanderbilt University

(time: 0:31)

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John Nori
Director, Program Development
National Association of
Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

(time: 0:46)

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Moral imperatives
Moral imperatives are actions that must be undertaken because of their inherent rightness or correctness, and despite whatever hardships or difficulty their undertaking might involve. School leaders who believe that all students can learn and should have access to and be able to participate in instructional and extracurricular activities given the appropriate supports want to create an inclusive environment because they believe that it is the right thing to do.

Two key researchers in school leadership, Michael Fullan and Thomas J. Sergiovanni, stress that nothing is more powerful in creating school change than a school leader who responds to a moral imperative.

Moral purpose accompanied by a powerful pedagogy is unstoppable.

Michael Fullan, 2006

Moral leaders concentrate on doing the right thing, not on doing things right. Moral leadership transforms a school from just an organization to a learning community—one that can inspire the kinds of commitment, devotion, and service from all stakeholders it takes for all students learn and grow.

Thomas J. Sergiovanni, 1996

Listen as a panel of experts discusses the moral imperative related to creating an inclusive school environment.

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Mel Riddile, EdD
National Association of Secondary
School Principals (NASSP)

(time: 0:24)

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Jennie Scott
Parent of a child
with a disability

(time: 1:08)

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Cynthia Alexander
NIUSI-LeadScape Principal
Evans Elementary School

(time: 0:32)

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