December OSEP Update

Volume 3 Issue 12  Holiday Edition

December OSEP Update

“We’re so inundated with news of mayhem and mishap and war and disease.  I think we forget how much good work is just being done day in and day out by a lot of good people who care about their kids and care about their communities.  In your districts, I know there are just extraordinary teachers and principals who are putting everything they’ve got into making sure our kids are getting a great education.  And you’ve got parents who are stepping up and volunteering and helping to make those schools work.  So, as you disperse, a message I want you to deliver to all of them from the White House, from the President, is even if you’re not getting a lot of attention, even if you’re not making a lot of headlines, what you’re doing every single day is making the biggest possible difference in the life of this country.  And I couldn’t be prouder of you.”  

-- President Barack Obama (11/19/14), in remarks at the “ConnectED to the Future” convening


What a year! We made such progress. 

Looking back on the last 11 months, we made great strides towards our goal of putting systems in place to improve educational results and functional outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. 

OSEP acknowledges the work you do to support children and families within your States.  We also recognize that we all share the same sentiment of wanting improved results.  So, for the first time in history, results were used in making annual determinations.  Secretary Arne Duncan affirmed our efforts when he said, “Every child, regardless of income, race, background, or disability can succeed if provided the opportunity to learn,” and continued, “We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to the general curriculum in the regular classroom, they excel. We must be honest about student performance, so that we can give all students the supports and services they need to succeed.” 

We asked and you responded!  For over a year, you worked tirelessly on the development of your Phase I SSIP; analyzing your data and infrastructure to determine how best to improve performance.  Your innovative thinking and collaborative efforts are evidenced by the informal data collected from State Contacts during SSIP implementation support calls and visits.  The evaluation results included comments that described visits as, “an opportunity to work together with OSEP staff” and, “an excellent opportunity to create relevant connections among statewide initiatives and projects.”  Ultimately, these rich discussions have had a positive impact on how we engage in our work around improving results. 

In addition to changing the way we support improved results, OSEP also asked you to change the way you submit data.  We launched GRADS 360 which quickly became the single location for new material related to the SPP/APR, Results Driven Accountability, IDEA fiscal requirements and other information from OSEP.  Communities 360 replaced the Right IDEA and became the gateway to the GRADS 360 SPP/APR online reporting module.  We recognize the challenge with adopting new technology.  So, thank you for your patience and feedback. 

To continue supporting your efforts, OSEP awarded the Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting and the National Center on Systemic Improvement to WestEd.  These centers will provide technical assistance to each State as you continue to work towards improved results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. 

In summary, thank you!  You are exceptional leaders in our field.  Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, and a new year of peace, health, and fulfillment.