OSPI released a study by the National Council on Disability (2018) ranking Washington state in the lowest quintile for inclusion nationwide (44th out of 50 states); data shows only 57% of students with disabilities are included in general education settings for 80-100% of the school day. The 2019 Washington Legislature responded by passing Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1109, which provided $25,000,000 to OSPI over fiscal years 2020 ($10M) and 2021 ($15M) to create professional learning opportunities supporting better inclusionary practices, emphasizing coaching and mentoring. OSPI selected the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) to plan and coordinate the Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project (IPPDP).
AWSP is proud to be one of many organizations involved with the IPPDP cadre as an external partner navigating the implementation of better inclusionary practices for Washington state educators; our focus being, of course, YOU, the building lead learners. Since November 2019, AWSP has embarked on a “fact-finding” crusade to measure the understanding of what inclusion and inclusionary practices are from our members’ perspective and evaluate what the immediate needs are in order to embed targeted inclusionary practices within all of our professional learning opportunities.
What is Inclusion?
Through our inclusion research journey over the last year, AWSP has realized there are many interpretations of what inclusion and inclusionary practices are within context and practice. OSPI has provided the state definition of Inclusion that all cadre partners will utilize with their target audiences:
Inclusion is realized when all students, regardless of their designation to receive special education services, are provided with targeted interventions and accommodations; allowing them to learn in the general education classroom and engage the core curriculum. Inclusion is the belief that all students have a right to meaningfully participate in the general education setting, both academically and socially. 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 as a result of their environmental segregation.
AWSP will embed this definition within internal systems and cycles of inquiry as well as within all professional learning opportunities offered to our members in 2020 and beyond. It is the state standard. When all educators function within a common definition and a common language on new initiatives, foundations and relationships begin to be built across systems, thereby creating sustainability.
Why Inclusion? Why Now?
Why such a push on inclusionary practices now? Because it is way overdue. Based on the body of research, the current reality of inclusionary practice programs in Washington state showcases much room for improvement. As learning leaders, we know you are all focused on improving the culture, systems and learning in your buildings and are committed to learning about and supporting inclusionary best practices. AWSP will continue to provide ongoing professional learning embedded with inclusionary best practices to assist you in increasing the academic, social and emotional outcomes for all students. AWSP is dedicated to supporting you through engaging professional learning as you navigate your way to improved inclusionary practices for all your students and your entire school community.
Cycle of Inquiry
Since November, 2019, AWSP has conducted several surveys, distributed to all 3500+ of our members, to measure where you and your colleagues are in your praxis and pedagogy in inclusion and inclusionary practices. Categorizing our findings within a Culture, Systems, and Learning philosophy, as outlined within the School Leader Paradigm: Becoming While Doing, AWSP, utilizing a cycle of inquiry, will assist learning leaders in enriching their professional pedagogy to build and lead learning organizations. Our goal is to help you, as a learning leader, disrupt and dismantle systemic isolation of students who have IEP plans and identify better practices for incorporating inclusive practices as professional and educational expectations and norms.