From Alberta Education:
Moving Toward an Inclusive Education System in Alberta
The Setting the Direction Framework recommends the building of a single inclusive education system that meets the learning needs of all students, including those with diverse learning needs. In the context of the Framework, an inclusive education system is a way of thinking and acting that demonstrates universal acceptance of, and belonging for, all students. Inclusive education in Alberta means a value-based approach to accepting responsibility for all students. It also means that all students will have equitable opportunity to be included in the typical learning environment or program of choice.
In the Alberta context, inclusion means every student will be included in the greater school community, and will be physically placed in the setting that is best for them at a particular time based on the input of all parties. Inclusion does not necessarily mean that every student registered in the Alberta school system will be placed in a regular classroom. Physical placement will be flexible and changeable, always with the student’s success in mind. his will be true in all school authorities—public, separate, francophone, private and charter.
A “made in Alberta” inclusive education system means: Shifting from a dual system of mainstream education and special education to a system that takes responsibility for ALL students. Sharing a commitment to building an inclusive education system that meets the needs of a diverse student population in all school settings becomes a focus of the reform of Alberta’s education system. Replacing the emphasis on special education “programming” with an emphasis on achieving outcomes for ALL students. This emphasis will be built into the inclusive education funding and accountability model. Developing the comprehensive supports and services required to take responsibility for all students and to work in an outcome-based way. Setting the Direction is exploring a continuum of support, where classrooms, schools, school authorities and the specialist community are equipped to make it possible for all students to have their needs met. This collaborative model advocates a collective responsibility for the success of each student. Taking an asset-based approach to meeting the needs of students with diverse learning needs and placing the emphasis on what students can do, rather than the limitations of their diagnosed condition. This approach focuses on making changes in the environment in which students are learning so that they can be more successful. Respecting and using data gathered at all levels of the system, beginning with the teacher and family and including specialist reports from medical and education experts. This honours the expertise that lies at every level. Recognizing that a successful school journey for all children begins with quality early learning and care and concludes with positive high school completion and a supported transition out of the school system. This includes an acknowledgement that smooth transitions throughout the school journey are critical elements of success. Working together to support students in schools with the supports that they need – which may not be exclusively educational services—delivered collaboratively in the most logical and natural setting, thus “wrapping” around the student.
Comparison of Alberta’s current education system and the system we are moving toward
FROM: makes a provision for special education to exist in section 43 of the School Act, students with special education needs and their parents experience an education program that focuses on disability shifts
TO- shifts the responsibility for students with special education needs onto the education system as a whole,
all students and their parents experience an education program that focuses on the Alberta Program of Studies
FROM- has special education founded on a medical model based on the student’s diagnosis, students and parents experience an identification of disability that is linked to coding, which is tied to specialized services and often leads to a lifelong label
TO - is founded on understanding a student’s needs based on the student’s learning and developmental profile, parents and students are participating in a process for the identification of strengths and/or needs to determine supports and services
FROM- identifies barriers to learning and development within the student, with an assumption that the student needs to change to fit the system, teachers refer students for assessment to identify special education needs
TO - identifies barriers to learning and development within the system, with an assumption that the environment needs to change to support student learning, teachers are supported to personalize learning for all students and use teacher-based assessment to identify both strengths and needs
FROM - focuses on deficits to be remediated, teachers are responsible for developing Individualized Program Plans (IPPs) for students with special education needs
TO - focuses on strengths and what the student can do, teachers are members of a team responsible for developing personalized learning profiles
FROM- tolerates difference, teachers express that they don’t feel they have the capacity or awareness to support diversity within their classrooms.
TO - tolerates diversity, teachers are supported to understand and program for diversity within their classrooms.
FROM- relies on medically-trained experts and specialists, teachers refer to medically-trained experts and specialists for identification of student need
TO - includes teacher and parent as experts, students, parents, teachers, specialists and others collaborate to provide programming
FROM - has an accountability system for special education that is input-based, school administrators dedicate resources to identify and report students with severe disabilities
TO - has an accountability system that is outcome-based (e.g., measuring the indicators of success),
school administrators dedicate resources to ensure that indicators of success are measured and reported