The Principles of Inclusion

By Kaylen Tucker Principal, January/February 2020. Volume 99, Number 3.

Topics: Principal Leadership, Special Education

With 1 in 5 public school students having a learning disability, it is critically important that principals have the knowledge and skills to cultivate a nurturing school environment in which all students thrive. To guide school leaders along this path, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform developed a supplemental guide to the 2015 Professional Standards for Education Leaders (PSEL). The guide Promoting Principal Leadership for the Success of Students With Disabilities identifies key leadership practices for supporting students with disabilities that correspond with the existing PSEL standards for principal leadership. The report makes clear that these skills are not “add-ons,” but rather they should build upon the skills and dispositions that principals already exhibit. Of the practices identified in Promoting Principal Leadership, the articles in this issue of Principal magazine especially drill down on:

  • Moral literacy—recognizing individual learning differences and articulating the philosophy that, as a matter of educational equity, all children can learn and should do so in the least restrictive environment.
  • High academic expectations—advocating for the success of all students by recalibrating toward a growth mindset and ensuring that students with disabilities have access to a challenging curriculum.
  • Professional capacity—knowing the basics about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Individualized Education Programs, facilitating targeted professional development to strengthen instruction to students with disabilities, and creating opportunities for collaboration between general education and special education teachers.
  • Strategic management of resources—understanding school law; engaging families and community; and navigating school, district, and state resources to ensure that every student gets the education they deserve.

So as you start the second half of the school year, I hope this issue of Principal magazine helps you design learning experiences that bolster your most exceptional students. From ensuring equity and inclusion to engaging families in student support, we’ve got you covered

— Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.


Start 2020 by strengthening your leadership team with the Leading Lessons supplement on “Growing the Capacity of Assistant Principals.” Use this extra resource to lighten the load of instructional leadership and to leverage data for student achievement.

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