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Moving Beyond the "Inclusion School"

Several years ago, I visited a school that had been described as a model for inclusive education.  It presented, in my opinion at the time, an exemplary program of inclusive practice.  But when I visited other elementary schools in the same district, I encountered only segregated special education programs.  I asked the Superintendent why the exemplary practices were not being scaled up in the other elementary schools in the district.  I was surprised by the reply: “We don’t need to.  We have our inclusion school.”  I believe that inclusive education is a “best practice” and not just “an option on a service continuum.”  This is one of the reasons that I am committed to helping districts scale up and sustain exemplary inclusive practices in all their schools.  The process of implementing, sustaining and scaling up, however, is complicated and often requires intensive technical assistance.  The SWIFT Center is now approaching the halfway point in its first full year of providing such assistance to 68 schools in 20 local educational agencies across five states as they implement inclusive education.  My colleagues and I had the opportunity to devise a unique intensive technical assistance process for our partnership with these schools.  I am pleased to share with you this SWIFT Center Technical Assistance Brief, which contains a thumbnail sketch of how that process works and the underlying concepts.  

- Wayne Sailor

Dr. Wayne Sailor’s academic pursuits are focused on comprehensive school reform at the elementary and middle school levels. He has done extensive research within the framework of multi-tiered systems of support and response to intervention (MTSS/RTI). Much of this research has been concentrated on schoolwide applications of positive behavior interventions and support. He developed a school reform model called the Schoolwide Applications Model (SAM) which was field tested in Kansas City, Kansas, New Orleans, Louisiana, East Palo Alto, California, and most recently in Washington, DC schools. The success of that school turnaround model led to Dr. Sailor and his colleagues winning the competition to establish the National Center on Schoolwide Inclusive School Reform funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). As a result Dr. Sailor now directs the Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Center at the University of Kansas. This Center provides technical assistance to 64 schools nation-wide spread across 16 school districts within five states. As one of the founders of the Association for Persons with Severe Disabilities (TASH) he has served as a member of its Board of Directors and was President of the organization over a four year span. Dr. Sailor’s most recent book is Unifying Education Systems published in 2013 by Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.