TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap

Overview of the IER

The five steps of the Inclusive Education Roadmap shown in five circles connected by a road.

Step 1: Get Started

Step 2: Reflect on Inclusive System (The RISE)

Step 3: Conduct Initiative Inventory

Step 4: Action Plan for Inclusive Education

Step 5: Implement and Sustain the Inclusive System

The Inclusive Education Roadmap (IER) is a series of tools, guidance, and processes to be used by state, district, and school teams systematically to build an inclusive system of education. The IER unpacks the complexities of building, expanding, and sustaining inclusive systems. The IER benefits all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities, a group historically left out of inclusive instruction. The IER provides guidance in deciding Where to start? What comes next? and Who should be involved? The IER supports leadership teams to implement the changes needed for all students to learn in inclusive classrooms.

It is estimated that it can take two to five years for an effective system to be up and running. The IER is organized into five steps to support the change process. Each step guides leadership teams on where to start, what to focus on, and how to proceed.

  • Step 1: Getting Started
  • Step 2: Reflect on Inclusive Practices (The RISE)
  • Step 3: Conduct Initiative Inventory
  • Step 4: Action Plan for Inclusive Education
  • Step 5: Implement and Sustain the Inclusive System

While the IER is divided into steps, it is essential to recognize that system change is not linear. Organizations will enter the change process at different places, identify different priorities for where to start, and travel different paths.

System change looks different across organizations because context matters. It is important to customize the process based on a systems' data and needs. It is equally important to design the process based on the principles that we know leads to sustainability over time. The IER integrates the Implementation Science stages and drivers (Fixsen et al., 2005; State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices [SISEP], n.d.-a) with evidence-based inclusive education practices to build effective inclusive systems.

Step 1: Get Started

Get Started is the first step. There is always a need to start the discussion and develop concrete, meaningful actions to build commitment and momentum in all change processes.

The first step of the IER focuses on:

(1) recruiting an effective Equitable Inclusive Leadership Team (EILT) that will lead the systems change process,

(2) revisiting the organization's mission and vision to determine if it is genuinely inclusive, supporting all students to reach high expectations,

(3) reviewing the Least Restrictive Environment data and consider where students with disabilities are currently receiving their education, and

(4) building a commitment for inclusive education for all.

These discussions consider the extent to which inclusive education meets the organization's commitment to all students, the degree to which the organization is ensuring the learning outcomes for all students, and the extent to which implementation is feasible at this time. Districts and schools must assess the "goodness of fit" between potential programs and practices and the needs of the students they serve. During this step, stakeholders learn about the why and outcomes of inclusive education and the impact on all students, including those with significant cognitive disabilities.

Step 2: Reflect on Inclusive Practices

Reflect on Inclusive Practices is where the organization reflects on its current strengths and needs related to inclusive education for all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities, and identifies the priority area(s) to begin its system change work.

The RISE (Reflecting on an Inclusive System of Education) is the tool and process that supports leadership teams to answer questions like Where do we start? What are the most important things to focus on? What do we do next?

The RISE has two parts. In RISE Part 1, the leadership team considers all of the major focus areas in an inclusive system and through a rating process identifies a priority focus area to delve deeper into. In RISE Part 2, an in-depth analysis is completed of that priority focus area.

The final part of this step is to identify three takeaways related to T-I-E that will inform Step 3 (Initiative Inventory) and Step 4 (Action planning).

Step 3: Initiative Inventory

The purpose of the Initiative Inventory is to align and integrate current priorities and activities in the organization with the priorities identified in Step 2. Through the inventory, current initiatives that are or could be related to increasing inclusive school community practices or policies are identified. This linkage strengthens the priorities by building a broader constituency to support the work, expands current organizational priorities to include all staff and students, and can increase implementation momentum.

The information collected in the Initiative Inventory can be used by the organization to consider the inclusive priorities identified with the RISE to expand the focus of current work, guide decision-making to make room for new work, and assist with the alignment of efforts within and across levels of the organization.

Step 4: Action Plan for Inclusive Education

Based on the knowledge base developed in Steps 1 - 3, in Step 4 the EILT pulls together the findings to write up an Action Plan for Inclusive Education. The result is two- three 3-year SMARTIE (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based, Inclusive of students with significant cognitive disabilities, and Equitable across all stakeholder groups) goals.

All of the goals focus on student outcomes. The first goal always focuses on improving the percentage of students being educated in the general education classroom. The one or two additional goal(s) are related to the priority focused on in the RISE, such as enhancing student engagement, students receiving effective instruction in general education, or peer relationships in general education. Next an annual activity plan is developed for each goal. Over the three years, activities are identified that will be implemented completely and with fidelity to achieve the 3-year goals.

As part of each activity, the team considers how the Implementation Drivers will be utilized and integrated. Meaningful change by interweaving change across multiple drivers is how sustainability is achieved.

Step 5: Implement & Sustain the IER Action Plan

In Step 5, the EILT focuses on implementing the action plan, nurturing the growth of the system (people, practices, policies) and continuously building the capacity of the adults to positively impact student outcomes. The new inclusive structures and processes become "how we teach all students."

The EILT remains an active and important part of the change process. It meets regularly and uses the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle as to ensure implementation of the action plan, discuss what is working and what is challenging, reviews current implementation and outcome data, gathers input, and modifies the plan, if needed. Implementation and outcome data are collected throughout.

A revised action plan is developed annually to continually work to achieve the 3-year goals. At the end of the 3-year cycle, the RISE is completed again to consider where the system is in terms of being an inclusive system for all students and whether to go deeper with the current priorities or change priorities.