Seattle Public Schools

Inclusionary Practices Project and SPS

Summary: SPS district staff are creating strategies that will help increase inclusive learning experiences for every student.

Inclusionary Practices Project is creating inclusive learning experiences for every SPS student

SPS is committed to making sure every student graduates prepared for college, a career, and community participation. The Inclusionary Practices Project (IPP) is one way SPS is staying on path to this commitment for every student, including students receiving special education services.

The Washington Office of Public Instruction (OSPI) created the project in 2019 to build a more inclusive learning environment for students in the state. Washington state has consistently been one of the least inclusive states in the nation, which is why the need for change was recognized.

The goal was to increase general education access to students receiving special education services to 60%. By providing state educators professional development opportunities, the state was able to meet this goal by the end of 2020. 

The program continues to flourish, providing trainings around inclusive education for thousands of educators every year.

SPS educators and staff are not only benefitting from these opportunities, they’re helping to build them.

SPS Special Education district staff are members of the state Special Education Support Center IPP design team where they’re developing content for professional development trainings.

Devin Gurley, SPS Special Education Director and Shelly Hurley, SPS Manager- Professional Growth and Evaluations Support Consulting Teacher Program, have been involved with the project since its inception. They decided to join because of their dedication to special education.

“This is our passion,” Gurley said. “We just love doing this work. We love seeing people build skills—adults and students—and meaningful inclusion is a basic right.”

As members, Gurley and Hurley are using their knowledge and expertise to build strategies to help increase meaningful participation in the general education setting for students receiving special education services.

“We have a lot of educators who want to do inclusion well and just need help with how,” Gurley said.

While part of the IPP design team, Gurley and Hurley have helped to develop the Foundations for Equitable Inclusive Education and the Foundations for Effective Co-Teaching courses which provide trainings around inclusive education. Gurley developed the Canvas course for the documentary “Intelligent Lives: An Inclusionary Practices Journey”

The two have also led live virtual trainings for more than 3,000 Washington state educators.

“[IPP professional development courses] give educators insight into not only their own bias and their own prejudice and their own stereotypes, but it also gives them strategies and ways to make classrooms more inviting for folks with disabilities.” Hurley said.

Currently, they’re developing modules that dig deeper into some of the topics they’ve covered in their longer training sessions. They’re also sworking to  turn their training sessions into self-paced Canvas courses.

The two have seen the difference this project has made in the lives of students through their work with educators. Gurley and Hurley will continue to offer opportunities for educators to provide inclusive learning environments for every student.

“Not only is [IPP] important for students who experience disabilities, but it is important for every other child and adult around them because they are an important, thriving part of society,” Hurley said. “They have gifts to give.”

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