Finding an Effective Inclusive School: Questions Every Parent Should Ask
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There are several resources that will help you as you search for schools that have a strong commitment to effective inclusion. Every state has a Department of Education that reports on that state’s target for Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This LRE data is also available for individual districts and schools within the state. The higher the LRE target, the greater the probability of inclusive schools and districts.
You may also view the Federal and State Report Cards with accountability ratings to get a snapshot of the state, district, or campus performance. These reports are very informative and helpful in considering appropriate schools to consider. Use your search engine to find the particular state, district or individual school’s report card and LRE data.
Once you decide on schools to consider, your child’s IEP will provide helpful information as to what academic and personal supports are needed and the success of those supports. Have it available to ask questions specific to the needs listed on the IEP. In addition, here are some things to look for and questions to ask that will help guide your interview of potential schools that exemplify effective inclusive practice.
We sincerely hope this information is helpful to you as you select a new school. As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, and your efforts to find a school dedicated to effective inclusion where all children belong and participate is to be commended. Our best wishes to you and your family.
- Are all students educated on their home campus?
- Is the general education classroom the first consideration when instructional setting is discussed?
- Are special education instructional settings when located outside of the general education classroom placed throughout the school building within age, grade, or department appropriate areas?
- Are the facilities used by special populations students comparable to those available for general education students?
- Are decisions about instructional setting determined on the basis of student needs rather than labels or available services?
- Are special populations personnel members of grade level/department teams and considered full members of the school faculty?
- Do general education and special populations teachers regularly plan together?
- Are all faculty members knowledgeable of the contents of the each student’s IEP for whom they are responsible?
- Is there a vision of shared ownership for all students at the school?
- Do teachers use a variety of instructional strategies (multi-level instruction, cooperative learning, activity-based instruction, etc.)?
- Is differentiated instruction the predominant instructional methodology used in classrooms rather than lecture-based instruction?
- Do teachers understand the difference between accommodations and modifications?
- Is there a campus-wise behavioral support system in place at the school?
- Are there in-class support options for students with special needs such as co-teaching, support facilitation, and the use of peers?
- Do service personnel such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech pathologists provide services within the general education classroom when appropriate?
- Does the school have a plan/program for increasing positive student-to-student relationships (ex: PALS, Circle of Friends, etc.)?
- Are special populations students considered full members of the school community?
- Are parents welcome and valued partners at the school?