TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap

Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER)

IER: The Inclusive Education Roadmap

  • Step 1: Get Started
  • Step 2:Reflect on Inclusive Systems (THE RISE)
  • Step 3: Conduct Initiative Inventory
  • Step 4: Action Plan for Inclusive Education
  • Step 5: Implement and Sustain

I want to learn in an inclusive education environment with my same-aged peers at my neighborhood school. To make my vision successful, I need my environment to prepare me for the real world. My classmates will eventually be those I work with, live among, and build relationships with. My peers will learn to view me as an important member of my class, and thus ultimately, in the future, they will see me as a contributing, worthy, confident, and autonomous member of society. 

~ A student with a significant cognitive disability (with help from their parent) ~

The Introduction includes

  • Key information about "why" and importance of inclusive education for students with significant cognitive disabilities
  • The core values that underlie effective inclusive education systems
  • An overview of the Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER)- What it is? What to expect? How to use it?
  • Background on Implementation Science and its importance in sustainable systems change
  • The importance of supportive, distributive leadership in implementing an equitable system of education.


There is a research-to-practice gap. Since 1975 when the Education for All Handicapped Children was enacted, the percentage of students with disabilities who spend 80% or more of their school day in general education settings has grown to 63% (National Council on Disability, 2018). However, only 3% of students with significant cognitive disabilities spend 80% or more of their school day in general education settings (Kleinert et al., 2015). This trend persists despite research clearly showing greater learning and post-school outcomes when students with significant cognitive disabilities receive special education services in general education settings.

The Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER) was created to support systemic change that provides an inclusive education for every student who walks or wheels through the door. There are examples of quality inclusive education programs for students with significant cognitive disabilities across the United States. They demonstrate what is possible when students with significant cognitive disabilities are given the opportunity to learn with their general education peers. Unfortunately, these examples of inclusive education systems are the exception rather than the rule.

Systems change is complex but can be broken down into doable steps. The key is getting started. Change begins with an inclusive vision that communicates high expectations for each and every student, including those with significant cognitive disabilities. Developing an inclusive leadership team. Determining the direction forward. Nurturing the system. Accepting that system change is a journey, not an event. And creating meaningful, measurable, positive outcomes for students through the changes that are made.

The information in this roadmap is not an endorsement of any identified products. Products identified in this module are shared solely as examples to help communicate information about ways to reach the desired goals for students.

All rights reserved.  Any or all portions of this document may be reproduced without prior permission, provided the source is cited as:

TIES Center is the national technical assistance center on inclusive practices and policies. Its purpose is to create sustainable changes in kindergarten-grade 8 school and district educational systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers, while being instructed in a way that meets individual learning needs. TIES Center is led by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, and includes the following additional collaborating partners: Arizona Department of Education, CAST, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, and University of North Carolina – Greensboro.

TIES Center is supported through a Cooperative Agreement (#H326Y170004) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it. Project Officer: Susan Weigert

TIES Center

University of Minnesota

Institute on Community Integration

2025 East River Parkway

Minneapolis, MN 55414

Phone: 612-626-1530


This document is available in alternate formats upon request.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity employer and educator.

TIES partner organization logos: Arizona Dept. of Education, CAST, UNC Charlotte, NCEO, University of Kentucky, The University of North Carolina Greensboro, IDEAs that Work