TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap

Core Values and Outcomes

A group of 3 students, one boy, and two girls are sitting at a table together. They each hold a pencil, and each student has a piece of paper in front of them. They appear to be working on an assignment together.

TIES Center Core Values for Inclusive Education

Inclusive education does not just happen, it is a purposeful process. It requires a systems approach with leadership being actively involved and supportive of inclusive values at each system level: state, district, school, and classroom.

In some cases, inclusive education requires challenging one's beliefs about what is best for students. We believe that these core values pertain to each and every student, including students with extensive support needs, and provide a "north star" to guide systems change. They provide a deeper understanding of the why of inclusive education to build your knowledge and share when explaining inclusive education to others.

Each and every student is valued and contributes to their school community and general education classrooms.

Equitable practices for all students, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, socioeconomic status, or ability, are essential components of an inclusive school. Schooling practices should reflect that each and every student is equally capable of contributing and building meaningful relationships in the school community. Exclusionary practices and the implicit biases sustaining them must be replaced with practices and beliefs that offer an expanded view of what it means to be a valued contributing member of society.

A group of students who appear to be elementary school age at a school playground.

Each and every student deserves meaningful and sustained access to the general education curriculum in general education classrooms. 

All students have the right to a high-quality and inclusive educational experience. Ideally, districts and schools should assign students to general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools or school of choice. With the right kind of support, each and every student can benefit academically, socially, and emotionally.

Three elementary aged students in a classroom. The student in front is using a wheelchair. All 3 students appear to be engaged in individual work in the classroom.

Each and every student is a capable learner deserving of instruction that reflects high expectations and assures learning.  

Instructional teams design goals, instruction, curriculum, and learning environments supported by best practices to reduce barriers and provide flexible options that support learning. Educators must anticipate and support student success to meaningfully achieve challenging academic, social, emotional, communication, and other essential skills.

An elementary-aged student with down's syndrome who is high-fiving an adult. Only the adult's arm and hand are visible. The student is seated at a desk.

Inclusive education requires ongoing and robust collaboration.

Inclusive education is a paradigm shift. It requires the shared engagement and combined skills of many people—general education teachers, special education teachers, specialized support personnel such as related service providers and technology specialists, paraprofessionals, district and school leaders, families, and students. When stakeholders engage in collaborative planning, delivery, and assessment of inclusive education, success is more likely.

Two adult women and one child are walking together outside near a restaurant. The two women are each holding a hand of the girl, who is using a wheelchair. They are all smiling.

Leadership at the district level that keeps a sustained and systemic focus on teaching and learning is central to improving the outcomes for each and every student.

Drawing from an evidence-based leadership practice, this value supports districts to develop inclusive education by prioritizing the teaching and learning of each and every student. The school district is an essential unit of change. It is responsible for establishing and maintaining the focus on and coherence of instruction. This focus requires monitoring, evaluating, and refining the work to improve inclusive educational practices in each school and classroom, district-wide. 

A group of students in a science class. The class is working on projects where they are examining plant leaves in the microscope. A teacher is assisting a young man with down syndrome.

State and district support is needed to sustain a culture of inclusion in schools.

Sustaining a culture of inclusion in schools requires a long-term, ongoing commitment and support from the state and districts. Inclusive and equitable education has never been the norm in American schooling. Continuous support from the state and districts over many years is needed for policies and practices to reject the cultural value of separateness and promote the cultural value of inclusiveness.

A group of students in an auditorium. One student is showing another student who is in a wheelchair something on her phone. The student in the wheelchair is wearing a hijab.

Effective inclusive environments are maintained through continuous improvement cycles focusing on what works and what needs to be adjusted.

Continual evaluation supports the improvement of critical strategies for doing and sustaining what works--at the state, district, school, classroom, student, and family levels. Ongoing job-embedded professional development and learning in districts and schools is required for the implementation of effective inclusive environments.

Three male middle school-aged students in a cafeteria. Two of the students are fist-bumping. All students are smiling.

Outcomes for Inclusive Education

TIES stands for Increasing Time, Instructional effectiveness, Engagement, and state and district Support for inclusive practices. Each level of the system can reach for meaningful changes in these areas.  A shared ethic of thinking inclusion first and expecting that all students belong in general education classrooms and schools together on the part of families, educators, and administrators will have a large impact on successfully realizing these outcomes.

TIES acronym stands for:

  • Time in general education
  • Instructional Effectiveness
  • Engagement with general education curriculum and peers
  • Support at the state and district level

Increase Time

  • Include students in their grade level general education classrooms at least 80% of the school day, providing an age-appropriate home base for each student.
  • A limited amount of instruction outside the general education classroom might be provided to any student if the classroom-level team thinks it is needed to meet individual student needs.

Improve Instructional Effectiveness

  • General and special educators, specialized instructional support personnel, and paraprofessionals work together to provide curriculum and instruction in grade-level general education classrooms that increase involvement and progress in the general education curriculum and support the individual needs of any student.  This allows all students to benefit by having access to educators with varying expertise, including expertise in grade-level content.
  • Implement the Universal Design for Learning framework in classrooms to eliminate the barriers to all students accessing content.
  • Integrate specially designed instruction and other evidence-based strategies into inclusive settings.

Increase Engagement with General Education Curriculum and with Age-Grade Peers

  • Engagement with the grade-level general education standards and curriculum.
  • Engagement with age-grade peers. Each student is supported to establish relationships and friendships with grade-level classmates with and without disabilities who have a wide range of strengths and needs. 
  • A key component of both engagement with the general education curriculum and with peers is supporting each student to have a means of communicating with others.

Systems Support

  • Support needs to occur at the state, district, and school levels to increase the time, instructional effectiveness, and engagement of students as delineated above through their strategic plans, mission, and vision statements, and provision of joint professional learning opportunities for all members of the collaborative instructional classroom teams.