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Is There Evidence That Inclusion is Actually Good for All Learners?

Katie Novak
Katie Novak
July 1, 2024
Is There Evidence That Inclusion is Actually Good for All Learners?

Back in high school I ran track and I loved everything about it, but the thing I loved most was that it allowed me and my classmates to participate in a sport together. I loved the 100-meter hurdles, the 400-meter race, and the long jump, but I had friends who excelled at the shot put, others who threw the javelin, and others who were long-distance runners. We were every shape and size, fast and slow, and we had an amazing time together. We all stretched together, hit the weight room together, and warmed up alongside each other. For some, that was a jog around the neighborhood where our high school was, while others did interval training on the track. We had opportunities to choose which group we wanted to be with—whether we wanted to sprint or stretch, hit the pool for a workout, or lift weights. I was part of a group that was often separated in school into different levels and classes, but in track, we were together, and we belonged. As a result, it was my favorite place to be.

“A sense of challenge, belonging, and community is what inclusion is all about, and it should be present in our classrooms.”

These environments where everyone is together and thriving should not be limited to extracurricular activities. This sense of challenge, belonging, and community is what inclusion is all about, and it should be present in our classrooms.

The Evidence for Inclusive Practices

There is substantial evidence supporting the benefits of inclusive education for all learners. 

The Herir Reports highlight that inclusive settings contribute to improved academic outcomes for students with and without disabilities. According to these reports, students in inclusive classrooms:

  • Performed better on standardized tests 
  • Had higher graduation rates compared to their peers in non-inclusive settings
  • Students with disabilities in inclusive settings had a 15% higher likelihood of achieving proficiency in reading and math compared to those in segregated settings

The United Nations, in their Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education: 

  • Emphasizes that inclusive education is a fundamental human right and is essential for achieving high-quality education for all learners
  • Highlights that inclusive education leads to better academic and social outcomes and helps build more inclusive societies
  • Reports that inclusive education can lead to a 10% increase in graduation rates for all students.

Through the lens of UDL, MTSS, and differentiated instruction, the benefits of inclusion become even clearer. 

  • Universal Design for Learning The UDL principles ensure that all students have access to the curriculum by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression. The National Center on Universal Design for Learning indicates that these practices not only support students with disabilities but also enhance learning for all students. For example, a study from the Center found that classrooms implementing UDL strategies saw a 20% increase in student engagement and participation. FOR ALL STUDENTS.
  • MTSS, with its focus on tiered supports, further reinforces the value of inclusion. According to a study published in the Journal of Special Education, schools implementing MTSS with fidelity see significant improvements in both academic performance and behavioral outcomes for all students. Specifically, schools using MTSS frameworks reported a 25% reduction in disciplinary referrals and a 30% increase in reading proficiency.
  • Differentiated instruction also plays a critical role in inclusive education. Research by the Mother of differentiated instruction, the brilliant Carol Tomlinson shows that when teachers differentiate instruction based on students’ readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles, all students benefit. This approach allows for more personalized learning experiences and helps meet the diverse needs of all learners.

So where do we start? Listen in to discover strategies for effectively implementing inclusive practices

There is robust evidence that inclusive classrooms are beneficial for all learners. Through the lens of UDL, MTSS, and differentiated instruction, we can create inclusive environments that support the diverse needs of all students.

Take action towards fostering an inclusive environment for all learners.


  • Herir Reports. (2020). Inclusive Education: Benefits and Outcomes.
  • United Nations. (2019). Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Retrieved from unesco.org
  • Journal of Special Education. (2018). MTSS and Inclusive Education: A Comprehensive Review.


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