TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap

Step 5C: Determining when to Scale Up and/or Add New Priorities


Making decisions related to when to scale up and/or add new priorities to the ongoing focus areas to build a robust inclusive system of education is an ongoing process where the decisions need to be based on multiple factors. If the organization moves too quickly in expanding, then the expansion may not be built on a solid system to support that growth. If the organization moves too slowly, then there is a chance of losing the momentum, energy, and political capital that was gained as the commitment to inclusive education increased.

Additionally, an important value of the change process is creating an equitable education system for all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities, and leaving no student behind. Keeping this value in the front of the work helps in determining when to scale up the work while not becoming complacent with having accomplished the intended outcomes only for some students.

There is no single answer to the question of when to scale up and/or add new priorities, but there are two clusters of data that support these decisions: Capacity of the System and Fidelity of Implementation of Evidence-based Practices.

Capacity of the System

First, consider the capacity of the system. To what extent is the system's capacity to support inclusive education in place and functioning at least reasonably well? Are the components of effective systems (e.g., the Implementation Drivers and infrastructure to support the change) developed and sustained over time? Are changes being made to the system through all of the Implementation Drivers so that the inclusive education system will be sustainable over time?

Capacity means not only looking at the presence of key leadership and infrastructure (such as the Equitable Inclusive Leadership Team, EILT), but also the quality of these components (e.g, the EILT includes diverse voices that are representative of the system and processes to listen to multiple forms of input). Tracking the capacity of the system to support change happens by documentation entered into the annual Inclusive Education Action Plan.

  • A school that is starting its inclusive education work recruited an EILT and developed the internal processes for the team to effectively work together. At the middle and end of the year, the EILT reflected on the extent to which the team was developing as a strong, effective leadership team with diverse voices to lead this work. This included sharing evidence that supported their self-assessment.
  • A district was completing its first year of implementing inclusive education beginning in three schools. Towards the end of the first year, it assessed the extent of the progress made toward reaching its 3-year goals and went through a process to update the action plan. During the second year of implementation, it wanted to ensure that it was utilizing all of the Implementation Drivers to ensure sustainability and reach more staff, families and students. This reflection led to developing a strong district coaching system to support the schools and engaging with more community partners to understand inclusion as part of its commitment to equity.
The Inclusive Education Action Plan

The Inclusive Education Action Plan has many purposes. It is both a development planning tool and an action planning tool for setting 3-year goals with annual activity plans. Reviewing the steps in the Action Plan also acts as a tool for considering if the system components are place to support sustainable educational change (e.g., the capacity of the system).

The Inclusive Education Action Plan is formally updated by the EILT with new goals one time per year. In addition, every two months there is an ongoing review and revision process.

    • At the beginning of the year, dates are set in the calendar every two months to review the Inclusive Education Action Plan to assure continued progress is occurring. These reviews includes:
      • discussing the Action Plan’s SMARTIE goals,
      • the steps taken to implement the goals, and
      • all available implementation and student outcome data that inform progress toward each goal.
    • Adjustments are made to the Activity Plan (Step 4C) or new activity plans are created to assure progress is being made to achieve the 3-year goals.
    • The annual review /revision of the Action Plan includes reviewing the implementation data (including fidelity data for implementing evidence-based practices) and outcome data from across the whole year to determine the extent of progress towards each 3-year goal. At this point, the questions are asked Are we on the path to reach our 3-year goals? If not, what do we need to change?
Reflecting on an Inclusive System of Education (RISE) & the Initiative Inventory

The RISE and Initiative Inventory are conducted every three years to inform updating of new 3-Year Goals.

  • Process:
    • The EILT repeats Step 2 and conducts the RISE Part 1 and Part 2 to determine if it will continue with the current priorities, expand the priorities, or move to new priorities.
    • The team may also choose to repeat Step 3 (Initiative Inventory) if there are new district priorities and initiatives that are now taking an inclusive approach or there are priorities that could be expanded to be more inclusive of all learners.
    • The team uses the findings from this current needs self-reflection to update their 3-year goals.

Fidelity of Implementation of Evidence-based Practices (EBP)

Second, determining the fidelity of implementation of evidence-based practices (EBP) is important. In practical terms, fidelity seeks to understand To what extent are we doing what we said that we would do in order to achieve the outcomes for all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities? Fidelity looks not only at the level of implementation of inclusive practices (Was it done?), but also the quality of implementation (How well was it done?). Without fidelity data, it is impossible to determine what is driving positive or negative outcomes or how to adjust system supports.

As part of the Inclusive Education Action Plan, teams identify what changes in practice they are focused on to improve outcomes for students. For example, the plan may include a targeted focus on collaborative teaming, co-teaching, implementing Universal Design for Learning in all core classes, or expanding the school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS) to include students with significant cognitive disabilities. Scaling up these strategies requires a professional development plan, including coaching support.

For different EBP strategies and practices, there are aligned tools to inform levels of implementation. For example,

  • the TIES Evidence-Based Inclusive Practices Classroom Snapshot Tool provides feedback on practices that can be used in a quick-feedback cycle between a coach and the teaching team. When these individual findings are aggregated over time, these same tools provide information regarding the fidelity of implementation of these practices across an organization.
  • Or, the Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) is used to monitor the fidelity of implementation of school-wide positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS).
  • Or, Check and Connect , a school-drop-out prevention strategy, has an embedded fidelity tool.

The strategy that is chosen through the action planning process determines which EBP fidelity tool should be used.

Determining When to Scale Up

Understanding fidelity as it relates to the concept of full implementation and when to scale up is challenging. SISEP (n.d.) identifies full implementation as being achieved when 50% or more of a system is engaged with a new innovation, implementing it with fidelity, and achieving good outcomes. It is at this point, that while the system continues to build the capacity of the additional 50% of the organization, it can also consider scaling up by adding additional priorities or participating districts/schools. What this says is that the level of fidelity of implementation for a specific practice is beyond a “fragile stage” in its development and can withstand additional change (Fixsen et al., 2013; NIRN, n.d. -b). It is important to assure that any definition of sustainability and scaling up does not delay or preclude incorporating all students in being educated in inclusive settings. Full implementation of inclusive practices should benefit all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities.

What's Next?

  • Review the data for the EBP that were included in the annual activity plans for each goal (e.g., co-teaching, use of PBIS, etc.) If the data indicates 50% or greater implementation with fidelity, consider if you want to expand the implementation of that practice(s) to additional grades, schools, or districts, then revise the activity plan for the next year.
  • Review the Capacity of the System data from the Action Plan. Ensure that beliefs and values of the system are leading to the work that is being accomplished and the Implementation Drivers being maximized to create sustainable, meaningful change. If the data indicates that only some aspects of the Implementation Drivers are being focused on, then consider how to strategically expand this to align all of the drivers.
  • When you have completed Step 5, the organization is either in the process of or has completed the Initial Implementation Stage (Initial Implementation takes 1-2 years to complete) for this set of goals and is moving into Full implementation. Each time a decision is made to scale up, revisit the steps in the Action Plan to determine what is the roadmap for ensuring a positive outcome.
    • For example, if the decision is to expand building inclusive education in three new schools the next year, then return to Step 1 to systematically plan that work. Or, if the decision is to expand inclusive education into more grade levels in the same school, then the you may need to revisit parts of Step 1 and modify Step 4 but not re-do the whole roadmap. The IER is flexible to meet local needs and context.
  • At the end of each year, make a copy of the Action Plan to revise it after you review your data. Keep all of the Action Plans from previous year to have a history of your systems change process and the corresponding data.
  • Repeat the Reflecting on an Inclusive System of Education (RISE; Step 2) and the Initiative Inventory (Step 3) every three years to revisit the current priorities, expand the priorities, or move to new priorities.