Researchers at the University of Kansas have selected six schools from across the country to serve as models of inclusive education for KU’s five-year, $24.5 million K-eighth grade national education initiative called SWIFT (School-wide Integrated Framework for Transformation) funded by U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs in October 2012.
Called knowledge development sites, the schools were selected from a list of 35 from across the nation selected through a rigorous nomination process based on the extent of their inclusionary practices and indicators of high academic achievement on the part of all students, said Wayne Sailor, professor of special education and director of the SWIFT Center.
Representing a cross-section of U.S. schools, including small town and large metropolitan districts, the six knowledge development sites are:
- Camdenton Middle School, grades 7-8, in Camdenton, Mo.
- Fox Prairie Elementary School, grades K-5, in Stoughton, Wis.
- Newberry Elementary School, grades K-4, in Newberry, Fla.
- William Henderson Inclusion School, grades K-5, in Boston (Dorchester).
- Willard Middle School, grades 6-8, in Berkeley, Calif.
- WISH Charter School, grades 6-8, in Los Angeles.
College- and career-readiness, including high academic achievement, are areas of focus for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for education in the state to rank in the top 10 nationwide by 2020.
“These schools are all excellent examples of what the SWIFT model incorporates: commitment to inclusive education by the entire school community and support by district administration, family members and other members of their communities,” said Amy McCart, KU associate research professor and SWIFT director of technical assistance.
These six schools will partner with SWIFT Center researchers to produce a comprehensive field study of exemplary practices in inclusive education that lead to academic achievement gains for all students including those with disabilities, said Sailor. The field study will help to provide new knowledge to guide the Center technical assistance efforts over the next four years.
SWIFT is based on the School-wide Applications Model (SAM), developed and refined over 10 years by Sailor and KU colleagues, including McCart and Nikki Wolf, assistant research professor from the Beach Center on Families and Disability. SAM significantly improved academic and behavior outcomes in 23 low-income urban schools in Wyandotte County; East Palo Alto, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan has cited one of those schools, the Anne Beers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., for its "extraordinary job of inclusion."
SWIFT, an expanded version of SAM, brings together special and general education in a comprehensive continuum of supports and services for all students.
The SWIFT center at KU will provide intensive, on-site technical assistance in new ways to schools and districts in an effort to sustain the model and implement it in 64 schools across four yet-to-be determined states. Further, SWIFT will assist state education agencies to implement statewide school reform. A national communication system will include a new generation website, an interactive e–learning knowledge bank, a SWIFT community of practice and a SWIFT national family alliance.
Partners with KU in the SWIFT Center include the University of Oregon, the University of New Hampshire, the University of North Carolina, the University of South Florida, Arizona State University, Louisiana Technical University, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, TASH, the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education.