TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap

Administrative Structures and Processes

Creating equitable and inclusive systems (and maintaining them over time) usually requires changing how those systems operate. Central to this work is:

  • developing supportive policies and practices that promote system-wide learning for the adults grounded in the use of data;
  • prioritizing teaching and learning for the students and the adults;
  • implementing accountability structures and processes to build capacity district-wide, and
  • nurturing collaborative cultures for continuous improvement (Howley & Telfer, 2020; National Center on Educational Outcomes, n.d.)

The long-standing separation of special education administration from general education administration has created parallel structures and processes. An inclusive system is a unified, collaborative system that views students with significant cognitive disabilities as general education students who receive special education services in general education settings. Each time a set of parallel structures or processes are unified to serve all students, the system is one step closer to the goal of becoming a  fully inclusive system of education. An inclusive system views students with significant cognitive disabilities as general education students who receive special education services in general education settings. Transportation, staff distribution, scheduling, grading, and diploma requirements are just a few administrative structures and processes that may need to be addressed when creating a truly inclusive education system.

 Administrative structures and processes can support and/or create barriers to inclusive education. This occurs at all administrative levels (i.e., state, district, school). Here are some examples from each level.

Leveraging the Administrative Structures and Procedures Driver at the State Level

State Structures and Processes

Support/Barrier

Compliance monitoring

Support: Creating collaborative conversations between school teams and families assisting with interpretation of IDEA and FAPE in a way that is conducive to inclusive practices.

Barrier: Interpretations of law that are not supportive of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), such as focusing on a continuum of placements rather than continuum of services.

Finance policy

Support: Providing funding for students with disabilities based on levels of need, and identifying ways that funding can be flexibly spent or braided with other funding streams to build cohesive supports for all students.

Barrier: Funding centered on service location rather than on student-specific needs.

Alternate assessment/alternate achievement standards

Support: Using the alternate assessment for student assessment purposes only and not placement.

Barrier: Allowing the need for alternate assessment to dictate the use of alternate curriculum and/or placement outside of general education.

IEP procedures

Support: Incorporating procedures for writing inclusive IEPs in the state’s technical assistance to districts.

Barrier: Writing an IEP in such a way that services can only be delivered outside of general education settings.

Requirements for delivery of specially designed instruction (SDI)

Support: Messaging that SDI is developed and monitored by the special education team, but can be delivered in a flexible way by multiple educators across the school day.

Barrier: Messaging that deemphasizes delivery of SDI in general education settings. 

Leveraging the Administrative Structures and Procedures Driver at the District Level

District Structures and Processes

Support/Barrier

Description of roles and responsibilities for school personnel

Support: Supporting transdisciplinary teams to work collaboratively and flexibly to meet diverse needs of all students.

Barrier: Limiting team members to rigidly defined and assigned roles and responsibilities that are implemented in reference to either general education or special education students.

School enrollment policy

Support: Supporting the enrollment of all students within a school's boundary to attend their home  school.

Barrier: Supporting the enrollment for students with significant disabilities at center-based programs rather than their neighborhood schools.

Professional development (PD)

Support: Joint PD for all general and special educators.

Barrier: General and special education teachers attend separate PD offerings.

Updating of school facilities

Support: Ensuring that all schools are fully accessible

Barrier: Only planning for some schools to be fully accessible

Transportation

Support: Flexibility  assignment to school buses so all students travel with their siblings and neighborhood peers; accessible buses for any student to ride available for field trips; paraprofessional support available on typical bus routes.

Barrier: Assigning students with disabilities to a special education bus; limited accessible transportation for field trips; paraprofessionals assigned to special education buses only.

District-wide initiatives such as MTSS/PBIS

Support: Communicating the expectation that all students receive Tier 1 instruction in a general education classroom.

Barrier: No clear communication about Tier 1 instruction for students with disabilities or being included in all aspects of these school-wide models.

Assistive technology department

Support: Assessment and support for students is provided in the general education classroom and environments.

Barrier: Assessment and support for students is provided only in a self-contained special education setting.

Delivery of specially designed instruction (SDI)

Support: Designed by special education team and delivered in a flexible way by multiple educators throughout the school day

Barrier: Designed and delivered by special education staff only

Extended school year (ESY) programming

Support: students with disabilities receiving ESY services in inclusive placements, and based on individualized programming

Barrier: students with disabilities receive ESY services in a separate setting with other students with disabilities, and for predetermined (often limited) time

Leveraging the Administrative Structures and Procedures Driver at the School Level

School Structures and Processes

Support/Barrier

Schoolwide initiatives such as MTSS/PBIS

Support: All students, including those who receive supplemental special education services, have access to receive instruction in Tier 1 and Tiers 2 and 3, as needed.

Barrier: Students receiving special education services receive Tier 3 supports to the exclusion of Tiers 1 and 2.

Scheduling/master schedules

Support: Development of master schedules that prioritize collaboration and alignment across general education and special education and ensure continuity of learning and provision of services in the general education environment for all learners.

Barrier: Development of master schedules that facilitate the maintenance of self-contained classrooms.

Collaborative planning time

Support: Special education teachers are provided regular common planning time to co-plan with general education teachers; collaborative processes are used to support effective collaboration.

Barrier: Special education teachers co-plan with other special education teachers, related service personnel, and paraprofessionals only.

Special education service delivery model

Support: Ensure that special educators and specialized support personnel are supported to work collaboratively and flexibly within general education settings to meet diverse needs of students.

Barrier: Special education services are delivered separately using a pull out model.

Delivery of specially designed instruction (SDI)

Support: Designed and monitored by the special education team, but is delivered in a flexible way by multiple educators throughout the school day.

Barrier: Designed and delivered by special education staff only.

School-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Support Systems

Support: Schoolwide Positive Behavior Intervention Systems are fully inclusive of students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Barrier: SWPBIS Systems are not inclusive of students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Allocation of building space

Support: There are flexible spaces for different instructional configurations that are used by all students.

Barrier: Students with significant disabilities spend their school day in specialized spaces only.