Center on Inclusive Education (CIE)


In 1987 a small group of academics at UNH, in partnership with families and community organizations, got together to address the question of how and where to place students newly released from the last of New Hampshire’s institutional schools. A radical idea was suggested – to include these students in their age-appropriate general education classrooms at their local public schools.

In the years following, this team – now the researchers, educators, and program directors of the Institute on Disability and founders of the Center on Inclusive Education (CIE) in partnership with families and schools – worked to develop the practices and supports needed to make equity-based inclusion work in New Hampshire, across the country, and around the world. They revamped teacher preparation programs to prepare Inclusion Facilitators who could adapt curriculum materials, coach other teachers, and act as inclusion promoters in their schools. They sent teams into schools to train teachers and paraprofessionals. And they trained parents to become better advocates for their children and to hold schools accountable for meeting the obligations of IDEA.

Over the past three decades, the IOD has continued to innovate and to provide schools across the country and around the globe with evidence-based models for improving education for learners with disabilities. These models include Response-to-Intervention, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, and Multi-Tiered System of Support.  Today, projects are underway to redesign academic assessments, improve supports for students with behavioral and emotional disabilities, and prepare teachers to integrate assistive technologies in their classrooms through the work of the Center on Inclusive Education.

The CIE is grounded in research, social justice, and policy:

  • More than thirty-five years of research shows that increased time spent in the general education classroom strongly correlates with improved academic and social outcomes for students with disabilities, regardless of severity or type of disability.
  • Inclusive education is part of creating a society where all persons, including those living with disabilities, are fully engaged members of communities and where culturally appropriate supports lead to independence, productivity, and a satisfying quality of life.
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that all children with disabilities have a federally-protected right to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment in the school the student would attend if not disabled.