Skip Navigation
California Technical Assistance and Training

Inclusive Practices

Updated: December 2015

Updated by: Janice Battaglia and Kristin Ludovico

Created by: Dona Meinders, October 2010


Successful inclusive practices begin with districtwide foundations of Multi-Tiered System of Supports, Universal Design for Learning, and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Staff (general education and special education) collaborate to differentiate instruction for all students. One coherent system of integrated supports and services ensures all students are learning together and have the supports they need to fully access the common core state standards. All students participate meaningfully in their education alongside their peers, and have a sense of belonging in their school and community. One coherent system is employed for all students despite differences in cultural background, ethnicity, identified disability, first language acquisition, or socio-economic status.


Utilization of a coherent system of inclusive practices goes beyond simply creating cluster classrooms of students with a multitude of differences. Effective inclusive practices demands a fundamental change in the way schools do business. Implementation includes the use of multi-tiered systems of support with high-quality, evidence-based instructional strategies and delivery models to meet the needs of all students at their levels. The outcome is positive results for all students academically, behaviorally and socially. Data-based decision making is paramount to the success of inclusive practices. Every individual student is valued based on their unique talents, contributions, and emphasizes reflective practice for continuous improvement. Through an effective coherent system of inclusive practices all students will have the supports that match their needs for success.

Key Aspects:

  1. Early intervention: Early intervention promotes growth and makes a difference in the lives of young children changing their trajectory toward success. Providing education, supports, and services to young children birth to school age who have identified special needs or who are considered at risk for developmental delays that may impact academic, physical, cognitive, communication, adaptive, and/or social-emotional development may eliminate more intensive services as a child enters school. Supports and services are derived from evidence-based research and best practices in early childhood education and may be provided in a variety of settings, with an emphasis on natural environments and high quality community and school-based programs.
  2. Instructional strategies and materials to progress toward the California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS): Quality instruction and access to core curriculum for students with and without disabilities begins with high quality, evidenced-based instructional strategies. It is then followed by data-driven progress monitoring for modification of strategies to meet the needs of individual students. Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals are aligned to the CA CCSS and drive the instructional strategies selected. Educators utilize appropriate accommodations, modifications, universal design for learning, accessibility adaptations, technology, and differentiated instruction to meet each student where they are and move them to the next goal. Materials utilized are geared toward a multi-modal approach to learning that promotes student engagement and emphasizes peer-mediated supports.
  3. State assessments: Educators must maintain high expectations for all students, and those students must be prepared to participate in the state's accountability system for results driven accountability. California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) outlines test administration in California, which includes both online, and paper-pencil formats for all students. IEP teams must determine if students with disabilities are able to participate in testing with the use of universal tools, designated supports, or accommodations. In some cases, test administration is provided in a one-on-one setting. School sites must be prepared to administer these individualized assessments by selecting trained staff and by having technology available for each student during test administration. This process ensures that all students have equal access to and participate in the state's accountability system.
  4. Special education service delivery models: The California Department of Education's Foundational Beliefs emphasize that education should be a single, comprehensive system with a continuum of services based on every student's individual needs. Special education supports and services are provided in the utilizing a variety of models utilizing inclusive practices. Models may include push-in/co-teaching where special education and general education credentialed teachers partner in the general education classroom. Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) can support all students more effectively so that students at different levels can achieve. The IEP team must consider which delivery model(s) will allow the most access to general education curriculum—education with peers in general education—while using the key concepts from Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to meet different needs of all students. This support allows all students to benefit and make progress toward targeted goals.
  5. School culture and leadership: Strong leadership and a positive school culture provide support for all students to succeed in both academic and social-emotional development. A positive school climate is culturally responsive with both administrative and teacher leaders striving to create and nurture an inclusive learning environment where all students can thrive and are free from harm. Successful schoolwide positive behavior support systems are visible and yield increased attendance, engagement, peer relationships, and academic achievement for all students.
  6. Student, Family, and Community engagement: The foundation of student success in school begins with student, family, and community engagement. Students and families feel a sense of belonging in school and community when provided with opportunities for participation in both school-based and extracurricular activities. Family engagement in the school's community ultimately results in student engagement, academic, and social success. Students thrive in environments where family and school goals are aligned and communities are actively engaged. Parents and families bring critical knowledge of their children's strengths and needs to the IEP planning and decision making process and are essential partners with schools in support of the implementation of IEPs. Additionally, parents and family members serve in leadership roles at the site and district levels, providing support and guidance to policy and procedural development.


Early Intervention Resources

  1. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
    NAEYC Early Childhood Inclusion: Joint Position Statement A Summary
  2. National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
    NECTAC: Quality Indicators of Inclusive Early Childhood Programs & Practices
  3. Creating Learning Opportunities and Understanding Differences in Students (C.L.O.U.D.S.)
    C.L.O.U.D.S. Preschool – An Inclusive Model
  4. National Education Association (NEA)
    National Education Association
  5. First 5 California
    First 5 California
  6. Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs
    Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs Us Department of Health US of Education

Resources for Instructional Strategies and Materials

  1. The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders
    Center on Great Teachers and Leaders
  2. The IRIS Center: Module on Differentiated Instruction
    Differentiated Instruction-Maximizing the Learning of All Students
  3. The IRIS Center Web site
    The Iris Center
  4. Scaffolding vs. Rescuing: An excerpt by Terry Thompson
    Terry Thompson: Scaffolding vs. Rescuing
  5. Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) on Universal Design for Learning (UDL
    Universal Design for Learning
  6. School-wide Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports (SWPBIS)
    School Wide Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports

Resources to Progress Toward the CA CCSS

  1. Santa Clara Inclusion Collaborative: Online Resources
    Electronic Resources on Padlet
  2. The California Department of Education's Multi-Tiered System of Supports
    Multi-Tiered System of Supports
  3. The California Department of Education's Response to Instruction and Intervention Resources by the Ten Core Components
    Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) Resources

Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plan Resources

  1. The California Department of Education's Web site Overview on LCFF
    Local Control Funding Formula Overview
  2. The California Department of Education's Web site for LCFF
    Frequently Asked Questions

Resources for State Assessments

  1. California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress
  2. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Resources
    Smarter Balanced Resources

  3. Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) 2015
    Desired Results Developmental Profile 2015

Resources for Service Delivery Models

  1. National Education Association (NEA) 6 Steps to Successful Co-Teaching
  2. The California Department of Education, A Family Engagement Framework: A Tool For California School Districts on Co-Teaching
    Co-teaching what it is-What it is not
  3. The Virginia Curry School of Education: Five Co-Teaching Formats
    Five Co-Teaching Formats
  4. The Friendship Circle: Ten Examples of Inclusion
    Ten Examples of Inclusion: For Those Who Need to See It to Believe It
  5. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals (JAASEP), An Evaluation of Push-In/Integrated Therapy in a Collaborative Preschool for Children with Special Needs
    Push-in/Integrated Therapy
  6. Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT), a National K-8 Center Providing Academic and Behavioral Support For All Students
    Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transforming Education (SWIFT)

Resources on School Culture and Leadership

  1. National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development (NCIPP): The Challenges of Inclusion and Collaboration
    Collaboration and Inclusion
  2. TED Talk with Rita Pierson, a Teacher for 40 Years, on the Importance of Human Relationships
    Every Kid Needs a Champion-It's all about Relationships
  3. Dr. Rick DuFour on Professional Learning Communities: The Key to Improved Teaching and Learning
    Professional Learning Communities
  4. National School Climate Center (NSCC) on School Climate and Inclusion, February 2013
    School Climate and Inclusion
  5. The IRIS Center: A Module of the General Overview and Concept that Principals Should Consider When Creating Inclusive Schools
    Creating an Inclusive School Environment: A Model for School Leaders

Resources on Student, Family, and Community Engagement

  1. From Kagan, a Publishing and Professional Development website for Educators on the Best Way to Engage Students in Learning
    Student Engagement
  2. The Center for Prevention and Early Intervention (CPEI) Family Engagement Framework: A Tool For California School Districts
    Family Engagement
  3. The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement: Family Engagement and Ongoing Child Assessment
    Parent Family and Community Engagement
  4. The Center for Parent Information and Resources: Starter Set of Resources on Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
    Starter Set of Resources on Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
  5. The Center for the Study of Social Policy: Strengthening Families and the Five Protective Factors
    Strengthening Families

For additional resources go to: Supporting Inclusive Practices