Across the country, roughly one in five students with an IEP spend most of their time receiving individualized services and supports in a “self-contained” or “substantially separate” setting. And the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of effectively serving students with disabilities - and exacerbated the inequities embedded in traditional models for doing so. For some of these students, a more inclusive learning environment is appropriate - but districts need to know which resources to use and how to target them strategically in order to implement inclusion models effectively.
ESSER funding creates new opportunities for school and system leaders to build research-backed inclusion models that meet students' needs - both students with disabilities, and those without disabilities. This requires re(organizing) resources at the school and system levels, taking a "Do Now, Build Toward" approach - where leaders begin by identifying relevant and doable starting points based on their district's context, and design and implement changes with a bold longer-term vision in mind.
This brief shares guidance around what a “Do Now, Build Toward” approach to supporting effective inclusion models looks like in practice.
Designing and implementing high-quality, doable inclusion models requires shifts in how schools organize their time and money and how they determine staff members’ placements and responsibilities. Making these shifts can be challenging for schools - especially at the secondary level, due to diverse student needs, increasingly rigorous content, and complex staffing and scheduling models. We conducted an analysis of four schools to shed light on how secondary school leaders and their system-level partners can organize resources to implement inclusion models that benefit all students.
This analysis identifies three sets of resource shifts that inclusion-focused schools employ.
The COVID-19 pandemic and influx of federal stimulus money means new challenges and new opportunities for organizing resources in ways that better support students with disabilities. See our ESSER Guidance for School Staffing, Spending, and Scheduling series of guides for concrete examples of what investments, schedules, and staffing models could look like to support priorities like small group instruction, relationship-building, targeted academic supports and more.