1. What impact should inclusion have on class size? How do the requirements of the class-size amendment impact inclusive practices?
Students with disabilities who are educated in general education settings are counted for class size requirements exactly the same as their non-disabled peers.
For more information: Go to the questions and answers document on the Florida Department of Education website at http://www.fldoe.org/finance/budget/class-size/faq.stml.
2. How do we build capacity of district staff?
The keys to capacity-building are commitment and collaboration. The most successful approach involves a commitment on the district’s part to being present for all (or at least a majority of) technical assistance and professional development offered by the Florida Inclusion Network. District staff can begin by observing/participating in activities and then rapidly move to co-facilitating and co-presenting with FIN staff.
For more information about the research/recommended approaches to building leadership capacity, please visit The Education Alliance of Brown University at http://brown.edu/academics/education-alliance/.
3. How do we merge different departments (ESE, Gen. Ed., Title I, ESOL) in a truly collaborative way?
While financial mergers may be prohibited due to different federal guidelines (especially for ESE, Title I, and ESOL), cost sharing is a basic way of work for collaboration. Operational mergers can be achieved with an organizational arrangement that is focused on shared responsibility for meeting the needs and achievement goals of all students. Departments can meet, plan, and mobilize together to assist schools.
4. How can I support schools in moving toward more inclusive practices?
There are many ways that you can support schools including:
- Establish district goals to support Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
- Establish “LRE Reports” so that each school can monitor how inclusive they are.
- Monitor the efficacy of the inclusion at individual schools and throughout the district.
- Develop a staffing plan that supports the continuum of services.
- Model inclusive practices at the district level by using people-first language, and supporting schools as they evolve into inclusive schools.
- Conduct a District BPIE.
- Assist schools in finding more creative and efficient uses of their existing resources.
- Support and provide appropriate professional development opportunities for the faculty and staff.
- Partner with and educate families of students with disabilities.
- Enlist the assistance of the Florida Inclusion Network.
In addition to the information found on the FIN website, you may want to take a look at the great ideas and resources offered by the Equity Alliance at the University of Arizona at http://www.equityallianceatasu.org.
5. How does inclusion tie into Response to Intervention (RtI)?
Inclusion and RtI both focus on increased accountability, the use of data to make effective instructional decisions, improved outcomes for all learners within the general education curriculum and settings, and increased collaboration among general education and special education personnel.
For more information on RtI in Florida, please visit the following websites:
- Florida’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support – http://www.florida-rti.org/
- Problem Solving and Response to Intervention – http://floridarti.usf.edu/
- Florida Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) Project – http://flpbs.fmhi.usf.edu/
6. How does inclusion impact student achievement?
Inclusion has been shown to positively impact students with and without disabilities. Research has consistently demonstrated that the academic performance of students without disabilities is not compromised by the presence of students with disabilities in their classrooms. There is also growing research that students with significant disabilities can learn and make gains in general education settings, especially with peer mediated support. Evidence shows that the educational performance of peers without disabilities is not diminished and is at times even enhanced by their interactions with, and support of, their peers with significant cognitive disabilities. For more information on evidence-based practices for inclusion, please visit our Research section.