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Home » Policy & Funding » Special Education » Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project

Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project

Project Overview & Values

The body of research consistently supports the positive link between access to core instruction in general education settings and improved outcomes for students with disabilities. Inclusion is the belief and practice that all students have the right to meaningfully access academic and social opportunities in general education settings. In Washington State, only 56 percent of students with disabilities are included in general education settings for 80-100% of the school day. During the 2019 Washington Legislative session, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1109 (ESHB 1109) passed, which provided $25,000,000 to OSPI over fiscal years 2020 ($10M) and 2021 ($15M) to implement professional development in support of inclusionary practices, with an emphasis on coaching and mentoring.

OSPI Special Education is excited to partner with our Inclusionary Practices Project Lead, Nasue Nishida, Executive Director for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP). CSTP is an independent nonprofit that competitively bid on the RFQQ and was selected to assist OSPI in planning and coordinating the Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project. CSTP has worked at the state level for over 15 years and assisted other divisions of OSPI in moving initiatives and bodies of work forward. Educator and stakeholder engagement is an important tenet of CSTP’s mission and organizational work and a key component of the expertise they bring to the project. You can find out more about CSTP on their website or by contacting their Executive Director, Nasue Nishida, for additional information.

Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Handout

  • Students first, always
  • Respect all perspectives and viewpoints
  • Provide the most opportunities for input to those groups most impacted

Inclusion is realized when all students, regardless of their designation to receive special education services, are provided with targeted interventions and accommodations; allowing them to learn in the general education classroom and engage the core curriculum. Inclusion is the belief that all students have a right to meaningfully participate in the general education setting, both academically and socially. Inclusive instruction rebukes the problematic perspective that students receiving special education services need to ‘fit in’ or ‘earn their way’ into general education classes. The belief that general education instruction is not malleable and that students should be making adaptations to be included in the general education setting has contributed to the continuation of two parallel systems of education in which students receiving special education services are marginalized and devalued as a result of their environmental segregation.

Legislative Foundations 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires students with disabilities be educated in the LRE. For nearly all students the LRE mandate means that students receiving special education services be educated in the general education classroom to the maximum extent possible. Regarding LRE, IDEA states, “The placement of children in special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily–34 C.F.R. § 300.114(a)(2).”

Inclusion Benefits Everyone

Extensive research on the efficacy of inclusion shows that inclusive instruction yields significant improvements in the academic performance of students receiving special education services–in all subjects–and improvements in social and emotional outcomes as compared to teaching in separate settings. Students who received special education services, who spend 80-100% of their time in the regular classroom, develop better working habits, improved self-esteem, are more attentive, have improved social competencies, and have more diverse friendship networks. Students who do not have an identified disability or an individual education program (IEP) also see improved academic outcomes as the high-leverage teaching techniques used in inclusive classrooms [e.g., multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), universal design for learning (UDL), specially designed instruction (SDI), and culturally responsive teaching (CRT)] help all students learn in ways that work best for their individual styles and needs. These students also see improved social outcomes as they learn to see beyond people’s disabilities and develop a greater appreciation for diversity.

Coaching/Mentoring Supports

The Washington State Standards for Mentoring “are designed to help both new and veteran mentors in various job settings to assess their current level of understanding and abilities, and to create actionable steps to improve.” The Standards for Mentoring include Learning-Focused Relationships; Reflective Practices; Adult Learning; Equitable Practices; Curriculum; and Connection to Systems and Learning Communities. Lipton and Wellman (2009) considered coaching along a continuum of interactive supports or stances, including coaching, collaborating, consulting, and calibrating. 

Research on how schools can successfully implement inclusionary practices continually cite professional development for educators as an essential component. Providing an inclusive environment for students means that educators collaborate frequently and have a strong grasp on how to differentiate general education lessons to accommodate all students learning styles and needs. This means that inclusionary professional development must focus on building collaboration skills and how to utilize high-leverage practices [i.e., MTSS, UDL/SDI, CRT]. When professional development is done correctly and administrative leadership is dedicated to a culture of inclusion, educators are shown to have positive feelings about inclusion and feel confident in their ability to teach all students.

Data analysis and problems of practice laid the foundation for development of a theory of action toward meaningful inclusion for all students. This theory of action identifies the needed inputs to support inclusive activities, focused on positive outputs and outcomes—across settings, content areas, and stakeholder partnerships—for sustainable systems change. 

A culturally responsive approach centers the experiences of students with disabilities and their families, particularly students of color and groups who have traditionally been denied a voice in decision making. 

The Inclusionary Practices Theory of Action focuses on resources needed by stakeholder partners in support of direct actions for implementing inclusive learning environments.

If we provide statewide support to target audiences that is consistent in the areas of:

  • Coaching/mentoring
  • State and local capacity to demonstrate positive peer relationships 
  • State and local capacity to utilize the expertise of WA public education faculty, staff and leaders
  • Strengthen and align existing professional development and support activities
  • Engaging parents and families 
  • Building student independence 

Educators will be able to increase access to grade level core instruction through the inclusion of students eligible for special education services in general education classrooms.

Resulting in improved LRE data, graduation rates, English Language Arts and math proficiency growth, and schools quality or student success indicators for students statewide.

By Spring 2021, we aim to increase access to grade level core instruction through the inclusion of students eligible for special education services in general education classrooms, and result in LRE data, as defined by Indicator 5 in the Annual Performance Report (APR) from LRE1 56.6% to LRE1 60%, and improved outcomes as measured by the Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF), specifically in graduation rates, English Language Arts and math proficiency and growth, and school quality or student success indicators (SQSS). 

The primary inclusionary drivers identified and mapped onto the Inclusionary Logic Model and Driver Diagram include: 

  1. Demonstration sites 
  2. Pilot District Cohorts 
  3. Statewide Professional Development 
  4. TIES Center Support 
  5. Local Professional Development 
  6. Engaging Parents and Families

Summer 2019

  • Analysis of statewide placement data and draft list of potential demonstration and pilot sites. 
  • Recruitment of Project Lead and team members; project work plan drafted for 2019-20 and 2020-21. 
  • Ongoing development of internal and external stakeholder directory. 
  • Resource mapping of agency & partner initiatives in support of inclusionary practices. 
  • Review of the research on inclusionary practices, evidence-based interventions & outcomes. 
  • Initial reviews of statewide placement data for students with disabilities. 

Fall 2019

  • Request for Proposals (RFP) for statewide coaching/professional development support, closes 9/27/19. 
  • Selection of the statewide professional development cadre selected.
  • Develop project press release and pilot invitation materials (including notice of potential impact to MOE) 
  • Selection/adaptation of inclusionary practices local self-assessments. 
  • Submission of TIES Center (University of Minnesota) application for intensive support for inclusive policies and practices for students with significant cognitive disabilities. 
    • Launch project funding application form package for selected pilots. 
    • Schedule webinars and/or in-person opportunities for input statewide.

Spring 2020

  • Official launch of inclusionary demonstration sites, including visitation schedules. 
  • Schedule webinars and/or in-person opportunities for updates and input statewide. 
  • Series of regional pilot site check-ins, including fiscal and program updates. 
  • Release of any additional form package funds for voluntary project sites. 

The project work plan and timeline will be updated and expanded frequently. 

Statewide Professional Development

Washington Education Association (WEA)

For its part, the Washington Education Association (WEA) will offer existing and new trainings for educators to promote inclusionary practices in general education classrooms. With a comprehensive approach aimed at reaching not just teachers, but all educators who work to support students in public schools, WEA will engage certificated and education support professional staff to assist in developing a series of trainings for their own cohorts, as well as for educational coaches and mentors. 

WEA will deliver the program through the WEA Professional Development Network using the train-the-trainer model, empowering up to 100 educators who will in turn provide about 250 trainings across the state over two years. In addition to training for those who work in general education classrooms, WEA will also provide a training for use in STEM integration courses and will engage a partner to provide on-line courses for educators located in remote areas of the state.

WEA's Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Flyer

Please contact Scott Poirier at for more information.

Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Education Center

SWIFT Education Center at the University of Kansas will provide statewide professional development and support aligned to OSPI’s priorities for special education.  SWIFT operates from a commitment to equity for all students, starting with a belief that all children deserve to be welcomed and fully supported in their communities’ schools.  This program of learning will serve as a catalyst for Washington school leaders to cultivate their leadership skills and a growth mindset.  Further, they will learn how to install, improve, and/or sustain an integrated and inclusive multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) that uses evidence-based practices and allocates resources to improve academic, behavioral and social outcomes for all students, especially those who have Individual Education Program plans. 

This transformational learning opportunity will be extended to principals and their school leadership teams, to participate together to create shared understanding and to apply what they learn to authentic action plans.  Over the course of a semester, a principal and school team will attend three off-site learning sessions along with teams from seven other schools.  Learning will continue through job-embedded coaching and formative assessment of school progress toward installation or improvement of systems and practices that produce improved outcomes for all students.  The core curriculum will be Leading through Equity-based MTSS for ALL Students (McCart & Miller, 2019), with contextualized content developed with the support of Lake Washington School District educators and University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment, Research and Training [SMART] Center.  Schools will be invited to participate in one of three cohorts beginning in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021.

Please contact Kari Woods at for more information.

Center for Change in Transition Services (CCTS)

To improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities, CCTS is working with school teams statewide to increase inclusionary practices in general education, focusing on Career Technical Education (CTE) classrooms.  This project aims to promote positive shifts in student expectations and opportunities, expanded possibilities for CTE access, and systemic change in teacher practices. Over the course of a year, participants in this statewide professional development initiative can expect to develop meaningful, data-informed action plans for their districts with support and technical assistance from skilled transition specialists.

Please contact Elaine Marcinek at for more information.

Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP)

The mission of AWSP is to support principals and the principalship in the education of each student.  This mission and the scope of our work aligns directly to the scope and sequence of The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Inclusionary Practices Statewide Professional Development and Support project.  AWSP’s strategic plan focuses on two main goals:  Equity and Principal Support.  Our focus and work around these goal areas will enhance the statewide focus on Inclusion.

AWSP realizes that for schools and districts to be successful with this initiative, it is crucial all school leaders are supported and empowered to create the desired culture, systems and learning to successfully implement an inclusive environment in their schools and districts. Principals and their leadership teams will need extensive professional development, networking opportunities, and statewide support in order to create the desired change needed to maximize the intent of this project.  AWSP will provide our school leaders the knowledge, skills, and abilities to tackle structural barriers to instruction such as bias, scheduling and staffing.  This will empower school teams to create a culture of inclusion through their building and their district.  AWSP will use our current professional learning continuum and governance structure to provide the professional learning needed to support leaders throughout this project.

Please contact Chris Espeland at for more information.

Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA)

The Washington Association of School Administrators’ (WASA) project, Inclusionary Practices: Statewide Support for District Change, will provide professional learning and support to assist districts as they move to more fully inclusive learning environments for students with disabilities. WASA’s target audience is district level leadership teams including superintendents or designee, special education and teaching and learning central office administrators, and school board members. These teams will be enhanced by including building level and teacher leaders as well as someone to serve as team facilitator (either an additional person or someone already named). In Year 1 of the project, thirty (30) district teams will be recruited from across the state to engage in this work. In Year 2, those 30 teams will continue their work while an additional 60 districts will be recruited to begin the process.

The specific goals of the project are to: 

  • Increase district supports/resources for teachers of targeted students
  • Deepen district understanding of what is needed to implement the LRE/UDL work
  • Change the allocation of students in LRE levels 1,2, and 3 from Spring 2019 to Spring 2021
  • Increase the percentage of targeted students placed and successfully participating in core classes from 2018-19 to 2020-21
  • Increase students’ perceptions of feeling safe/welcomed in their school from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021.

In order to accomplish the goals listed above, WASA will engage with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) experts, most notably Dr. Katie Novak, from Novak Educational Consulting of Groton, Massachusetts to provide direct face to face professional learning, webinars, mentoring/coaching, book studies, and online courses. 

The Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) will lend its support to WASA’s project.

Please contact Helene Paroff at for more information.

Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD)

The goal of the Inclusionary Practices Professional Learning: A Collaborative Team Approach Project is to increase the capacity of School Leadership Teams to understand, prioritize, and implement structural and instructional inclusionary practices for students with disabilities. Through an intentionally designed collaborative professional learning sequence, school teams will be equipped with new learning, knowledge and skills that support the work of:

  • District leaders, principals and/or counselors who will serve key roles in creating the conditions for increased collaboration, carrying a vision of inclusion, and leveraging resources (i.e., class scheduling, IEP teams/processes, allocation of building resources, staff collaboration times,  etc.) to strengthen instruction to meet staff and students’ needs.
  • General and special education teacher leaders who will serve as mentors to classroom teachers as they work to engage each student across the continuum of disabilities through application of a broad base of supportive and inclusionary instructional practices that ultimately result in improved educator and student learning.

We will begin Phase One of our work by designing a plan for project activities. Phase Two will begin with engaging school teams in the professional learning process and development and refinement of professional learning content. During this phase of the work, beginning in the first quarter of 2020, we will engage 50 school leadership teams in professional learning with an in-person meeting focused on needs assessment, implementation readiness, and understanding of inclusion and resources. These teams will provide feedback for subsequent phases of the project, during which professional learning opportunities for school teams will be rolled out statewide. This third phase will expand the reach to 140 school leadership teams and will include a summer institute to guide teams in planning as well as continued collaborative learning opportunities.

Please contact Katherine Livik at for more information.

Partnerships & Input


Arc of Washington and King County
Association of ESDs (AESD)
Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP)
Autistic Self-Advocates Network (ASAN)
Black Education Strategy Roundtable (BESR)
Center for Change in Transition Services (CCTS)
Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR)
Data Improvement Network (DIN)
Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF)
Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)
Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) 
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)
Educational Opportunity Gap and Oversight Committee (EOGOAC)
Educational Service Districts (ESDs)
Inclusion for ALL
Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) Educator and Leader Preparation Programs
Governor's Committee on Disability Issues and Employment
National Center for Pyramid Innovations (NCPMI)
National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI)
National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII)
Office of the Education Ombuds (OEO)
Open Doors for Multicultural Families
Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment (PAVE)
Roots of Inclusion
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)
Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL)
Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC)
State Board of Education
State Ethnic Commissions
State Legislature: Education and Budget Committee leadership, committee staff, and partisan staff
State Needs Projects (funded by OSPI with special education funds)
State Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) Inclusion Committee
TASH Disability Advocacy
TIES Center
Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP)
Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA)
Washington Education Association (WEA)
Washington Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
Washington School Counselor Association (WSCA)
Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA)
Washington State Special Education Technology Center (SETC)
Washington State Teacher Leader Fellows


We envision this section of our webpage will reflect information, input, and feedback from our valued stakeholder partners. With permission, we will include letters of support, items of concern, and suggestions for next steps and future initiatives. 

Statewide Placement & Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Data

 

According to the National Council on Disability 2018 report, The Segregation of Students with Disabilities, Washington State “falls in the most restrictive quartile” with respect to placement in general education settings. For the Inclusionary Practices Professional Development (PD) Project, statewide building-level placement data were analyzed, along with additional factors including student outcomes, student success indicators, designated building supports identified under the Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF), and district feeder patterns.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) data are a measure of the percent of a school day a student with a disability spends in general education settings. While there are multiple measures included in LRE calculation, for the purposes of the Inclusive Practices PD Project, data analysis focused on:

  • LRE 1: Placed in general education for 80-100% of the school day
  • LRE 2: Placed in general education for 40-79% of the school day
  • LRE 3: Placed in general education for 0-39% of the school day

The most current statewide placement data show that LRE 1 is 56%; LRE 2 is 29%; and LRE 3 is 13%.

To assist with identification of potential pilot sites, the logic rule applied for the initial data analysis focused on the following data logic:

LRE 2 data > LRE 1 data OR LRE 1 < 50% AND LRE 2 > 40%


Over 150 buildings have been identified as potential pilot sites, encompassing a student population of 97,000, of which over 12,000 are students with disabilities. The LRE data for the entire group of pilot schools is as follows: LRE 1 is 33%; LRE 2 is 54%; and LRE 3 is 13%. OSPI has also disaggregated three years of LRE data, by grade level and district trends.

The data analysis process identified several cohort groups, based on 2018 building-level LRE data

  • Cohort A: 130 schools that met the data logic and their feeder schools
  • Cohort B: 23 alternative schools that met the data logic
  • Cohort C: 8 small n-size schools (n<20) that met the data logic
  • Cohort D: 19 schools with higher rates of LRE 3 (potential partnerships with TIES Center)

Pilot Districts/Schools

Demonstration Sites

In collaboration with the The Haring Center for Inclusive Education at the University of Washington is partnering with school districts across the state to create demonstration sites highlighting best practices in inclusive education. These schools will participate in transformational professional development, and in turn provide learning experiences that inspires continuous improvement, with the goal of creating learning communities to be used as sites for research, professional development, teacher preparation, and model demonstration sites for best practices in inclusive education. These schools will serve as exemplars that show the benefits of inclusionary practices on student outcomes.

Please review the About Demonstration Sites Project Description to learn more about the goals, benefits, and commitments of participating in this exciting opportunity to grow inclusionary practices across Washington state.

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