Creating an Inclusive School Environment: A Model for School Leaders
Inclusion is an approach to education based on the premise that all students should be accepted and valued for their unique abilities and included as integral members of the school. Research shows that students with and without disabilities benefit both socially and academically from inclusion. To help principals to create an inclusive school environment, this module has demonstrated a process built around Kotter’s eight-step model of change. Click on the movie below to review that process (time: 3:20).
Although the process of creating an inclusive school may take three to five years to implement and sustain, principals who have taken on this important endeavor, such as those below, have observed successful outcomes for their students.
Principal, Pima Butte
“[W]hen I started, we had roughly twenty percent of our kids in the special ed pull-out-classrooms type setting. At this point, I think we just ended the school year with three kids who were receiving, I think, one hour of pull-out a day.”
Outcome: Only 3 of 455 students are in pull-out programs.
Principal, Morgan County High School
Evans Elementary School
“[I]n 2004, we only had thirty students who were in an advanced class. And in this past school year that we finished , we had over 430, and this is of a school of about 980 students.”
Outcome: Forty-five percent of students are in advanced classes.
Three years after CMS began to make changes toward becoming more inclusive, they reflect on their progress. They acknowledge that CMS has experienced a number of positive outcomes.
- The general education and special education teachers work together collaboratively to support all students. The teachers report enjoying this new approach to teaching.
- The number of students in special education classrooms decreased from 13% to 4%.
- The number of parents of students with disabilities participating in PTO and other school activities increased by 32%.
- Over 90% of the teachers report feeling that they now have the skills necessary to teach students with disabilities and feel comfortable doing so, due to effective, targeted PD.
In addition to these school-related outcomes, students at CMS have experienced a number of positive results.
- Reading scores for all grade levels and all subgroups have increased by 8% to 15%.
- Discipline referrals for all subgroups have decreased by 12% to 17%.
- The number of students with disabilities participating in extracurricular activities has jumped from 8% to 60%.
Revisiting Initial Thoughts
Think back to your responses to the Initial Thoughts questions at the beginning of this module. After working through the Perspectives & Resources, do you still agree with those responses? If not, what aspects about them would you change?
What is inclusion and why is it important?
What model can school leaders use to guide the change necessary for creating inclusive school environments?
How can school leaders prepare for the changes required to create inclusive school environments?
How can school leaders implement changes that result in inclusive school environments?
How can school leaders sustain the positive efforts toward creating inclusive school environments?
When you are ready, proceed to the Assessment section.