Improving inclusive practice in schools continues to be a high priority in school improvement, in Australia. The LINC project employs a model of collaborative inquiry to promote teachers' use of evidence-based inclusive practices.
Learning Improves in Networking Communities (LINC) is a teacher professional development research project developed in partnership between the Catholic Education Commission, Victoria (CECV) and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The project involved eight schools and 45 teachers in two years of fully funded university accredited post-graduate study and was fully funded through the Australian Research Council of Research Strategic Partnership Industry Research Training (ARC-SPIRT) scheme and the CECV from 2001 - 2003. The 2004 - 2005 LINC project involves four secondary schools and 47 teachers in one year of post-graduate study at Monash university and is fully funded by the Catholic Education Office Melbourne.
Our objectives are to increase a school's capacity to respond to diversity, to improve student engagement and achievement in areas identified as important by the schools themselves and to increase collaboration among professionals and the wider community.
A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed 2001-2003 results highlight a shift away from a categorical approach to disabilities toward one emphasising critical reflection and evidence gathering for the purpose of informing instructional or organisational practices. Improvements in student outcomes have taken place in all schools but value-added analysis indicates that conditions in the school context contributed to the better than expected improvement in two of the schools. The impact of professional development on student learning is dependent on school level factors including leadership support, opportunities for collaboration and belief in the efficacy of the advocated approach. Improvements in teacher efficacy and professional growth provide support for the model for school university partnerships. July, 2004 began the involvement of four secondary schools and 47 teachers in the LINC project.