Haring Center

December 17, 2019

Bringing Haring Center Inclusionary Best Practices to 16 Sites Across Washington State

The Haring Center has long been a fulcrum of Washington’s inclusive education community through its role as a leader in classroom learning, research and professional development. That impact will multiply across the state in the coming years with the launch of a new partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Currently in Washington state, “only 56% of students with disabilities are included in general education settings for 80-100% of the school day,” reports OSPI.

To change this, the Haring Center will partner with school districts statewide to create 16 demonstration sites that highlight inclusive education best practices as part of OSPI’s Inclusionary Practices Professional Development Project. Over the next two years, Haring Center inclusion specialists will work closely with selected schools to facilitate continuous growth in inclusionary practices. Ultimately, the project seeks to foster statewide collaboration, innovation and sustainability for inclusionary practices that drive student success.

“Outcomes of inclusion are vast. We want these schools to really see the benefits of transformational learning,” says Katy Bateman (PhD ‘17), senior inclusion specialist for the project. “We are excited to partner with schools across the state and work toward the common goal of increased positive outcomes for all students, teachers, and administration.”

The Haring Center, with its extensive professional development offerings, groundbreaking research and continuous application of best practices in the Experimental Education Unit (EEU), is well-poised to guide these new demonstration sites said Cassie Martin (PhD ‘10), demonstration sites project lead.

“We have the capacity and history to show that inclusion benefits everyone,” Martin said. “Other school districts have used the EEU as an exemplar for inclusionary practices for decades.”

Martin says that when we include students with disabilities in our classrooms, communities, and learning, everyone benefits. “Students who receive special education services, who spend 80-100% of their time in the regular classroom, develop better working habits, improved self-esteem, are more attentive, have improved social competencies, and have more diverse friendship networks,” reports OSPI. “Students who do not have an identified disability…also see improved academic outcomes…and improved social outcomes as they learn to see beyond people’s disabilities and develop a greater appreciation for diversity.”

Haring Center Director Ilene Schwartz will join Bateman and Martin as a senior inclusion specialist, in addition to acting as the faculty director, on this project. The Haring Center plans to divide the 16 sites into two cohorts, the first of which will begin work in the new year. Inclusion specialists will provide school staff with one-on-one advisement focused on improving inclusionary practices, designing an effective visitor engagement strategy and developing key takeaways to share with peer-learning communities.

Martin said the potential impact of this project is significant.

“We aim to build a community around Washington state committed to inclusive education,” says Martin. “Students both with and without disabilities at the demonstration sites will experience better outcomes by learning together.”

While Martin said current research on the benefits of inclusive education typically focuses on younger learners, Washington’s demonstration sites project presents the exciting opportunity to show beneficial outcomes in older students, from kindergarten all the way through high school.

At each demonstration site, the entire school will be involved, not just one or two classrooms. Across all the sites, thousands of Washington students will be impacted.

The selected schools themselves will benefit from the professional development on high-leverage teaching techniques, adult learning and more, along with opportunities for collaboration with other demonstration sites. The Haring Center will assist in the development of a knowledge-sharing system among the demonstration sites, which will enable the schools to continuously improve their inclusionary practices.

As demonstration sites become hubs for inclusive education, Martin said, they will also welcome visitors of all sorts—teachers, school leaders, families, community members and more—driving additional impact throughout Washington.

“When schools have the opportunity to work together, are part of an innovative professional development community, and can focus on what is working to put students first, they can generate powerful ideas and make each other stronger,” Martin said. Her ultimate goal is “to provide educators across the state with a transformational learning experience that results in a shared vision that inclusion benefits everyone.”

The two-year timeline of this project is short, Bateman said, but the capacity and collaboration it creates will sustain indefinitely.

“We’re supporting a constantly growing community that can champion and share inclusive education best practices and benefits around Washington,” Bateman said. “It’s a beautiful vision, and with some hard work ahead, we look forward to it becoming reality.”

Go to this project website for more information