OSEP Update

OSEP Update


Volume 3, Issue 10


“I wish I could see every innovative program -- every initiative creating promise for our children – happening across the country, but even after visiting all 50 states and more than 350 schools during my time as Secretary, I can’t visit every school.  So that’s where you come in.  What cutting-edge programs are your local schools undertaking?  Or, if you don’t know of any, what would you like to see them do?  We’ll share some of your stories and suggestions on the White House blog...  We should celebrate the gains we’ve made these past couple years, but we can’t be fully satisfied.  There’s still much more to do to support all students so they may reach their full potential.  So, in this new school year, let’s get to work.”

-- Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (9/18/14), in a blog post inviting the public to share stories on innovative programs (web form)



The Office of Special Education Programs is pleased to announce the online system for States to submit their SPP/APR went live on October 1, 2014.  On the OSEP GRADS360° site you can find highlighted SPP/APR resources, other OSEP material on the Highlighted Resources page, information about Grants, SSIP Overview and Tools, and an events calendar with important dates to remember. GRADS360° is also the platform for States to submit the IDEA Part B and Part C State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) electronically.

Rebecca Walawender, Deputy Director, Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Division, presented on Exploring Grads 360: The SPP/APR Module and Communities 360 during the NASDSE 76th Annual Conference.

If you haven’t set up a login and password for yourself yet, you can do so by going to the osep.grads360.org website and setting up today.



WestED and its partners, including the American Institutes for Research, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, SRI International, and the National Parent Technical Assistance Centers, will be providing support to States as they work to improve results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Specifically, their focus is to provide TA to States implementing both Parts B and C of IDEA to help build their capacity to support local educational agencies (LEAs) and early intervention services (EIS) programs and providers in improving educational results and functional outcomes for children with disabilities. Over the next several months, OSEP will be working closely with CSI to ensure that it is up-and-running to provide States with high-quality support in developing and implementing their SSIPs.




A cooperative agreement was recently awarded to establish and operate a National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities. The Center will work with State educational agencies, LEAs, State VR agencies, and other VR service providers to implement evidence-based and promising practices and strategies that ensure that students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills, and supports needed for success in postsecondary education and employment.  Under this priority, OSEP and RSA are collaborating to support a TA Center that will help build the capacity of SEAs, LEAs, State VR agencies, and other VR service providers to implement evidence-based and promising practices and strategies.



On September 8 – 10, 2014, over 450 early learning professionals from around the country gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana to attend the Improving Data, Improving Outcomes conference.  This conference, hosted by The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) along with the IDEA Data Center, and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, focused on issues related to Part C and Section 619 programs such as coordinated early childhood data systems; measurement and use of child and family outcomes data; and resources for improving systems of services.  In addition, there were several sessions devoted to the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) process.  If you would like to view materials from the conference sessions, you can access them via this link:  http://ectacenter.org/~meetings/data2014/mtgagenda.asp.



The National Association State Directors of Special Education’s (NASDSE) 76th Annual Conference and Business Meeting was held from October 4-7, 2014 in Denver CO.

This year’s theme was State Drivers of Systemic Improvement and the agenda included sessions on school based mental health services, educating transient children, online learning for students with learning disabilities, among others. More information about the NASDSE conference can be found at www.nasdse.org.



The Department recently proposed new requirements for the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.  The proposed requirements, implementing language from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, would allow school districts to execute additional interventions, provide flexibility for rural districts, and extend the grant period from three to five years.  Also, the proposed requirements would make changes reflecting lessons learned from four years of SIG implementation.  Public comments must be received by October 8.  The agency will issue final requirements later this year.



On September 30th, the Department announced a number of competitive grant awards.  Among them:

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP): $82 million for 41 grants -- 10 state grants and 31 partnership grants -- that will help 116,000 at-risk students to prepare for college and receive the support they need to achieve success in postsecondary education.

“Now is the Time” programs: $70 million for 130 grants -- 12 School Climate Transformation grants for states, 71 School Climate Transformation grants for districts, 22 Project Prevent grants, and 25 School Emergency Management grants -- to help make schools safer, reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of dangerous hands, and increase mental health services.

Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program: $3.9 million for 10 grants to implement demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and scientifically based research to enhance services provided to gifted and talented K-12 students.

Teacher Quality Partnership Program: $35 million for 24 grants funding new partnerships between universities and high-need districts that will recruit, train, and support more than 11,000 teachers over the next five years -- primarily in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields -- to improve student achievement.

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Letter from the Director


Dear Leaders,


OSEP is putting the finishing touches on the SSIP Evaluation Tool that will be used by a team of internal reviewers to rate the overall quality of Phase I SSIPs. A draft version of this tool was shared with states on September 10, at the Improving Data, Improving Outcomes conference and on September 11, during the OSEP National Technical Assistance call. The primary purpose of OSEP’s SSIP analysis is to determine the extent to which the SSIP clearly and comprehensively addresses each of the five components of Phase I as specified in the Indicator C11 and Indicator B17 descriptions in the SPP/APR Measurement Table. Rating categories will be “High Quality,” “Adequate Quality,” and “Low Quality.” Although OSEP will be analyzing SSIPs, it will not be using States’ Phase I SSIP's as a factor in the 2015 Determination Process.

It is our goal to provide clear expectations and guidance as you develop your SSIP.  We encourage you to reach out to your State Contact if you have questions or concerns related to the evaluation tool.






The State Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence-based practices TA Center (SISEP) visited OSEP on September 23rd and met with OSERS Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin, OSEP Deputy Director Ruth Ryder, OSEP Director of Research to Practice Division Larry Wexler, OSEP Director of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Division Gregg Corr and OSEP staff.  SISEP shared information about what it takes to transform a State system so that it can support the use of evidence-based practices (http://implementation.fpg.unc.edu/). 

They also shared tools that States can use for the development and implementation of their SSIP (https://osep.grads360.org/#program/ssip). 



On November 6, 2014 from 2:30p-3:45p ET (11:30a-12:45p PT), CADRE will host a webinar with John Inglish, “Restorative Justice Practice in Special Education: Resolving Conflict and Promoting Equity for Students with Disabilities”.  This webinar will start with a brief overview of the history and use of restorative justice practices to resolve conflict. This will be followed by a description of the use of restorative practices in public education, with a spotlight on promising initiatives around the nation. The webinar will focus on the use of restorative practices for students with disabilities and their families - both as an alternative to exclusionary discipline, and as a tool for re-integration into the school setting. 



The National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) held their Consortium Meeting at OSEP on  October 2-3, 2014.  NLCSD prepares scholars for leadership careers in sensory disabilities (blindness and visual impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, and deaf-blindness.  The meeting goal was to continue to develop an inclusive community of learners composed of Fellows, University Faculty and Public Advisory Council members engaged to support Fellows in their research efforts that will lead to successful completion of their doctoral degree in four years.



The Institute of Education Sciences published "Teacher Attrition and Mobility."  This First Look report provides some selected findings from the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) along with data tables and methodological information. The TFS is a follow-up of a sample of the elementary and secondary school teachers who participated in the previous year’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The TFS sample includes teachers who leave teaching in the year after the SASS data collection and those who continue to teach either in the same school as last year or in a different school. The purpose of the Teacher Follow-up Survey is to determine how many teachers remained at the same school, moved to another school or left the profession in the year following the SASS administration.  


Mathematica published "Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Early Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After One Year."

The incentives and support offered through TIF grants aim to improve student achievement by improving educator effectiveness and the quality of the teacher workforce. This is the first of four planned reports from a multiyear study focusing on the TIF grants awarded in 2010. It examines grantees’ implementation experiences and intermediate educator outcomes near the end of the first year of program implementation, before the first pay-for-performance payouts to teachers and principals.