Oklahoma School District Gets Help Creating Inclusive Learning
CAST, the nonprofit educational research and development organization that created the Universal Design for Learning framework, launched the Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems (CITES) in 2018.
The center promotes a framework of evidence-based practices aligned to the 2017 National Education Technology Plan. The framework is designed to empower school districts to create and sustain inclusive technology systems that serve all students, including students who require AT or accessible educational materials.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, this work focuses on identifying how the technologies are acquired and implemented and how students are supported.
In 2020, Jenks Public Schools was one of five school districts to partner with CITES to remove barriers for students like Mercy and end the stigma of being “different” for using customized learning tools.
Using the CITES framework, the team created a district technology plan that included input from all stakeholders. It set goals to update procurement and curriculum adoption practices and, most important, change the culture regarding accessibility.
WATCH: See how ed tech prepares students with disabilities for careers.
The district also has a vendor survey for all curriculum adoption, requiring vendors to share accessibility features. Products are eliminated from consideration if they do not meet specific accessibility ratings.
To support the shift in mindset, the ed tech team posts weekly tips to increase understanding of small changes teachers can make to improve access for all students. Jenks is committed to this journey and continues to drive change to meet all students’ needs and even exceed expectations.
Implementing the CITES self-assessments helped the leadership team identify areas with accessibility gaps and change those practices. “We are proud of our participation in the CITES framework development process and the enhanced focus on strategies to support all students,” says Jenks Superintendent Stacey Butterfield.
All of our students deserve appropriate time, energy and financial support to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for their achievement. Please take the time to review your district’s inclusive technology policies and practices, and visit cites.cast.org for more resources.