Conejo Valley Unified School District's Commitment to Inclusion

The Conejo Valley Unified School District recognizes each child is unique and when differences are celebrated, a community of inclusivity, kindness, and respect results, which enhances the learning for all.

Universal Design for Learning in CVUSD

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional mindset that acknowledges the variability of all learners and seeks to remove barriers to learning by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action expression. UDL strengthens the universal instruction provided to all students by intentionally designing a learning environment to be more accessible and inclusive for diverse student learners.

UDL was introduced to all CVUSD teachers during a full day of professional learning in August 2019. This kickoff event featured a keynote address by renowned author and practitioner Dr. Katie Novak. This training was followed up in November 2019 when all teachers worked collaboratively to determine barriers to student learning and then apply the UDL Guidelines as grade-level or content area departments. Continued training was provided throughout the school year through additional teacher collaboration, principal-led training, and through "UDL Learning Walks", in which teams of educators observed their colleagues' classrooms to identify and discuss the applications of UDL. During the 2019-2020 school year, specific resources have been provided to teachers that supports the implementation of UDL in the remote/virtual learning environment. 

At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, staff underwent professional learning that emphasized how to provide access to curriculum to all students in the remote environment. The district purchased licenses for Kami, an extension that allows students and staff to annotate on top of text and provides speech to text, Screencast-O-Matic, which allows teachers to record directions for their students, and EdPuzzle, which allows teachers to embed questions into videos. These extensions and websites are some examples utilized to break down barriers to learning and create a path to inclusion for all students.

Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is  a “comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to students’ needs, with regular observation to facilitate data-based instructional decision making.” In CVUSD, the MTSS process embraces inclusion and diversity while providing the supports that students need. MTSS is a collaborative problem-solving process used to identify concerns, develop interventions, and evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in a multi-tiered system of service delivery.

Unified Sports

Conejo Unified Valley School District is proud to have Unified Sports teams at Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, and Westlake High Schools and Colina and Redwood Middle Schools. The Unified Teams are comprised of approximately half Athletes (students with intellectual disabilities), and half Unified Partners (students without intellectual disabilities). Each school has developed a unique model of stewardship for their Unified Sports Leagues – with a variety of district staff, from a ceramics teacher, Varsity Basketball coach, history teacher, social studies teachers, and English teacher, in addition to Special Education teachers and Adapted Physical Education teachers, lending support to the teams. Each school site also has a variety of participants in the games – including students from Sparkles, ASL club, ASG, Band, Dance, and Sports Medicine.

The community is invited to cheer on students, and support this program by attending future games.

In addition, the schools apply to be formally recognized as Unified Champion Schools. Each Unified Champion School receives up to $3,000 in grant monies from the Special Olympics to help cover costs associated with the program, such as uniforms, travel, and equipment.

Sparkles Inclusive Cheerleading

The Sparkle Effect was started by 2 high school students in Iowa in 2008.  In 2020, they made the decision to change their name to ‘Generation Spirit’ to match the power and the passion behind what has truly become a nationwide movement for inclusion!  Today there are over 225 teams in 31 states, involving over 20,000 students.  

Here in the Conejo we have 3 clubs at each of our high schools, run by spirit cheerleaders!

Students with and without disabilities cheer together at football and basketball games routinely, and have also cheered on our teams playing baseball and softball!  We participate in school rallies, ability awareness events, and attended the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015, along with numerous other events.

We are not about perfection!  We are about positive interaction between all students, respect of each other, and forming friendships.  The impact they have had at each of our high schools has been overwhelming.

Conejo Valley Unified School District is proud to have Debbie Hanna as the Sponsor of our Sparkles program!

For more information in the Sparkles program, please contact Debbie Hanna.

Young Athletes Program

The Young Athletes Program – TK-2: Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities(ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. YoungAthletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.

Unified Juniors – 3- 6: Unified Juniors is for students, grades 3-6, with and without intellectual disabilities. Students will gain knowledge of Special Olympics and an introduction to competitive sports in a fun, non-intimidating manner, while breaking down barriers at an early age through the Play Unified movement.

Unified Juniors – 3- 6: Unified Juniors is for students, grades 3-6, with and without intellectual disabilities. Students will gain knowledge of Special Olympics and an introduction to competitive sports in a fun, non-intimidating manner, while

breaking down barriers at an early age through the Play Unified movement.

Current schools that use the Young Athletes Program are

  • Acacia Elementary
  • Aspen Elementary
  • Be Me Preschool
  • Madrona Elementary
  • Maple Elementary
  • Wonder Elementary

Abilities Awareness

Ability Awareness Week reinforces the understanding that individuals with disabilities have incredible abilities.  Through various engaging and informative opportunities students acknowledge the abilities and strengths of individuals with disabilities, helping to reduce hurtful myths or stigma.

Inclusive School

CVUSD is proud to celebrate Inclusive School Week during the first full week in December.  Inclusive Schools Week is focused on acknowledging historical marginalization of individuals and/or communities and taking action to break down barriers that preclude all individuals/communities from full and equal access and opportunity.   Each school site prepares and plans for various activities that improve the ability to successfully educate all children.   

Co-Teaching in CVUSD

Co-teaching is an inclusive instructional strategy in which two teachers, a general education teacher and special education teacher, partner to create a cohesive curriculum in which they co-plan, co-teach, and co-assess to provide access to the subject for ALL students. Co-teaching provides students with and without disabilities the opportunity to interact with and learn from both teachers and all students while gaining access to the curriculum in a more Universally Designed manner.

CVUSD offers various co-teaching classes in English, Social Studies, Science, and Math for grades 6 through 12.  Students with IEPs may access their Specialized Academic Instruction services in a co-taught class based on the IEP.

Community Based Instruction

Community-based instruction (CBI) is a strategy or instructional method that promotes the teaching and use of academic and functional skills in the student’s community environment. CBI is designed to teach students to function as independently as possible in as many community environments as possible and to provide students with practice for independent or supported living, employment, and recreational activities.  CVUSD students in specialized programs access CBI in settings that are relevant to the student, facilitate independence, and are age appropriate. Through CBI, students work on IEP goals in real-world situations, develop social and behavioral skills, are provided opportunities for inclusive interactions within the community, gain familiarity with the community, develop work skills, develop independent life skills, and develop communication skills.  CBI is an instrumental component of CVUSD’s high school LEAP and Autism specialized programs as well as at Conejo Oaks Academy. Students participate in community trips concurrently with classroom instruction. Students engage and practice some skills in the classroom first while later practicing the skills in the community setting.