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What Does An 'Inclusive' School Look Like?


What does a truly inclusive school look like? Improving Education: The Promise of Inclusive Schooling, a new booklet from the National Institute for Urban School Improvement, offers educators a close-up view of inclusive education. The free booklet includes a questionnaire to help educators evaluate and improve their schools.

Improving Education: The Promise of Inclusive Schooling
includes a laundry list of more than two dozen practical ways educators can make their classrooms more inclusive. Those inclusive practices, previously published in national reports, include

  • LESS whole-class, teacher-directed instruction
  • LESS classroom time devoted to fill-in-the-blank worksheets
  • LESS effort by teachers to thinly "cover" large amounts of material in every subject area
  • LESS tracking or leveling of students into "ability groups"
  • MORE active learning in the classroom
  • MORE emphasis on higher-order thinking and learning of key concepts and principles
  • MORE responsibility transferred to students for their work
  • MORE attention to affective needs and the varying cognitive styles of individual students
  • MORE delivery of special help to students in general education classrooms.

  • Inclusion is not just about including children with disabilities. "It's about embracing the idea that diversity is the reality and, therefore, each child is a unique learner," Elizabeth Kozleski, director of the National Institute for Urban School Improvement, told Education World. "In order for each child to maximally benefit from education, we need to organize our schools, curriculum, and teaching with this reality in mind."

    What does a truly inclusive school look like? A booklet published by the institute paints a picture of inclusion for teachers, school administrators, parents, and community members. Scenarios detail how students with wide ranges of abilities and experiences benefit from a school's inclusive practices. The 24-page booklet, Improving Education: The Promise of Inclusive Schooling, provides a visit guide and an observation checklist that enable educators and advocates to evaluate and improve a school's ability to meet the needs of its diverse population.

    "Many students in today's schools -- students who are culturally and linguistically different, students with disabilities, students from different family or socioeconomic situations -- need and deserve better," said Dianne Ferguson, author of the booklet and co-director of the institute's Center for Research Synthesis. "Our materials are designed to help schools improve their effectiveness for each student so all achieve more success."

    The new inclusion agenda looks at a student who has a disability -- or any other kind of difference -- as just one more student in a school's population, just another difference that is part of the rich diversity of our communities and our schools, Ferguson told Education World.

    "All teachers -- those just preparing to teach and those who have been teaching for decades -- need to develop the capacity to better address all kinds of student diversity," Ferguson told Education World. "Disability is just one aspect of that diversity and that need."

    Click here to view and print an online copy of the complete Improving Education: The Promise of Inclusive Schooling booklet. You may order printed copies in quantities of 25 or more by e-mailing the National Institute for Urban School Improvement at [email protected] or by calling (303) 556-3990.

    Gary Hopkins
    Education World® Editor-in-Chief
    Copyright © 2000 Education World

    Udated 02/26/2009