Better Together: Washington State Becomes Second TIES Center Site

Tue Nov 19 2019
Sheryl Lazarus.

When students with and without disabilities learn together, they all benefit. When states make inclusive schools a priority, everyone benefits.

In the state of Washington today, just 56 percent of students with disabilities are included in general education classrooms, below the national average of 63 percent.

Aiming to boost those numbers, Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and its community partners recently delivered the winning pitch to become the second state partner to work with ICI’s TIES Center on an intensive technical assistance project. The project involves taking the best ideas for inclusion that have worked in individual classrooms and finding ways to integrate them across entire school districts and statewide.

“Washington was selected as the second intensive technical assistance state following a rigorous application process,” said Sheryl Lazarus, TIES Center director (pictured).

State educational leaders’ passion for full classroom inclusion for students with disabilities shone through the resources directed to the project and in the voices of parents and other community members who participated in the competitive process to become a TIES partner.

“The thing that really stood out was their overall commitment to equity and the inclusive school community,” said Terri Vandercook, assistant director of the TIES Center, part of ICI’s National Center on Educational Outcomes.

TIES, which stands for increasing Time spent in general education, Instructional Effectiveness, Engagement, and State Support for inclusive practices, works to bring about broad, strategic progress toward including all students, even those requiring the greatest amount of support, in the general classroom. Individual educators and school and district officials will participate in the work. Last year, Maryland was selected as the first national technical assistance site. Both states will create capacity-building frameworks that will lead to improved results for students requiring the most significant supports.

“We are so hopeful about this partnership with Washington because they are dedicated to a systems mindset, and our learning with them can eventually be shared with other states,” Vandercook said. “Expanding the dissemination of best practices across the state will make lasting change, and make it happen for more students.”