Created by Massachusetts educators, this Guidebook includes tools for districts, schools, and educators that are aligned to the MA Educator Evaluation Framework and promote evidence-based best practices for inclusion following the principles of Universal Design for Learning, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and Social and Emotional Learning. Read an introductory letter from the stakeholders .
Inclusive school communities honor the belief that education is for everyone. My fifth graders are brave, engaged, reflective members of our class who aspire to make a difference in their world. An inclusion model is the most dynamic and thorough way I know for a teacher to be an agent of positive social change.
Massachusetts has a longstanding commitment to providing a high-quality public education to every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, cultural background, sexual orientation, exposure to trauma, or disability status. There are persistent gaps in the quality of educational opportunities available to students in Massachusetts, however, and these gaps are a call to action1. As the needs of our students become ever more diverse, the importance of fostering inclusive learning environments continues to grow.
Although commonly associated with special education and the federal mandate that students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent appropriate, an inclusive philosophy goes beyond the needs of students with disabilities to frame a system of accessible instruction and positive behavior supports that generates positive outcomes for all students. The emphasis on systemic implementation is important. Inclusion is not solely the job of any one educator or classroom-the successful creation of inclusive settings begins at the school and district levels, with superintendents and principals bearing as much responsibility for student success as educators and related service providers.
Inclusion is not necessarily a placement or a setting-it involves the implementation of systems and processes that allow all students to be educated within an educational community, the impact of which is significant. In Massachusetts, students with learning or communication disabilities who are educated, full-time, in general education settings are nearly five times more likely to graduate high school in four years or fewer than are similar students in substantially separate placements2.
Inclusive practice refers to the instructional and behavioral strategies that improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for all students, with and without disabilities, in general education settings. To support inclusive practice, the tools of this Guidebook are based on the frameworks of Universal Design for Learning, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports , and Social and Emotional Learning .
The Guidebook is broken into topical sections that promote best practices for inclusion through the Educator Evaluation Framework. Educators may wish to download specific sections in the Guidebook, depending on the job responsibilities, time of year, and other local considerations.
These courses are one option for MA educators to meet the 15 PDPs license renewal requirement related to training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles at no cost.
Use the links below to access the Foundations for Inclusive Practice course content without creating an account. These versions contain all of the course content, but do not record your work.
Important Note: The course versions below can not be used to get a PDP certificate. If you want to take a course for PDPs, please select the link above.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, DESE partnered with a team of Massachusetts educators to conduct a comprehensive review of the Guidebook over the course of School Year 2015-16. Feedback from this group informed a range of revisions and additions to the tools.
In collaboration with higher education faculty, the Department is pleased to offer a three-hour sample lesson sharing evidence-based best practices for inclusion designed to meet the needs of teacher candidates in all licensure areas. Access these resources at the Educator Preparation page.
1 Massachusetts State Equity Plan
2 For a comprehensive analysis of special education in Massachusetts, see Reports by Dr. Thomas Hehir and Associates.
Last Updated: January 25, 2019
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