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Celebrating Inclusive Schools Week

Students in the background. Did you know that almost 95% of students with disabilities spend part of their day inside a regular classroom with their peers who do not have disabilities? This is according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal laws created by the U.S. Department of Education mandate that students with disabilities should be included in all aspects of the general public education curriculum.

Having inclusion provides a unique and equitable experience for all, especially for young developing minds that are in an educational setting. Kent School District (KSD) prides itself on equity and inclusion and structures work and school environments on those principles. And with it being Inclusive Schools Week, the district wants to recognize the importance of this observance and those who work to make sure each and every student has access to a quality education.

Assistant Director of Inclusive Education Jon Robinson said, “This time is dedicated to celebrate the progress the district and schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors.”

Because a majority of students with disabilities are spending considerable time in classrooms that include students who do not have disabilities, the sociological impact can potentially reach every child.

Robinson said, “students who receive special education services and spend 80-100% of their time in the regular classroom develop better working habits, and improved self-esteem. They are more attentive and have improved social competencies with more diverse friendship networks.” In contrast, he also added students who do not have a disability or an individual education program (IEP) “see improved academic and social outcomes as they learn to see beyond people’s disabilities and develop a greater appreciation for diversity.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 6 million students between ages 6-21 received special education in 2016; but, there are still some hurdles when it comes to having all neighborhood schools being inclusive and having heterogeneous classrooms at each grade level.

Robinson said more schools need to implement successful professional development of inclusionary practices for educators. This would enable educators to collaborate frequently and have a better understanding on how to differentiate lesson plans to accommodate all students’ learning styles and needs.

One asset Robinson has learned throughout his career in education is to always remember to take the student’s perspective first.

KSD appreciates its dedicated and hard-working members of the Inclusive Education team and the Teaching and Learning Community for helping support the mission of “successfully preparing all students for their futures.”