The Latest! OSEP's Monthly Update!

Improving Results for Youth and Children with Disabilities

April 2016: In this Issue

TOP NEWS: Department Initiates Loan Discharge Process


US Department of Education Announces Student Loan Forgiveness for Eligible Individuals

This month the Department announced a process to proactively identify and assist federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge.  The Department has been working with the Social Security Administration to complete a data match to identify federal student loan borrowers who also receive disability payments and have a designation of “Medical Improvement Not Expected” -- which qualifies them for loan forgiveness under the TPD program.  

Approximately 387,000 borrowers were positively identified in the first round of matching conducted in December 2015 and March 2016.  These borrowers have a total loan balance of over $7.7 billion, and roughly 179,000 of them are currently in default.  As early as April 18th, the borrowers will receive a customized letter explaining eligibility for loan forgiveness and the simple steps needed to receive a discharge.  

Note: Going forward, this match will be conducted quarterly so newly eligible borrowers are aware of options.


INSIDE OSEP: Ruth's Report and RDA

Message from Ruth Ryder, Acting Director

Hello Leaders!

April has brought about a lot of change, including the end of the Negotiated Rulemaking process for ESSA here at the US Department of Education. The Negotiated Rulemaking Committee came to agreement on Title I Part A assessment provisions, many that are critical for children with disabilities. Visit this page for updates, or sign up for news about ESSA.


We also learned that our current OSERS Assistant Secretary, Michael Yudin, will be moving on to a position outside of the Department. Deputy Assistant Secretary Sue Swenson will become Acting Assistant Secretary upon Michael's departure. You will be missed, Michael, but we certainly look forward to working more closely with Sue!

Finally, I would like to point you toward another great resource launched last week by OSEP's Research to Practice (RTP) Division. The new website will be a central hub for information for all RTP grantees. 

Current featured resources include:

- Information on OSEP’s annual Project Directors’ Conference and Leadership Conference;

- Individual pages for each of the OSEP Program Areas with Program Area specific information;

- Tools and resources relevant to Section 508 accessibility standards and evaluation best practices; and

- Clarification about OSEP’s peer review process.


You may send any feedback regarding the site to

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Your RDA Update

As a part of its phased implementation of RDA, OSEP recently notified each Part B program of OSEP’s Differentiated Monitoring and Support (DMS) engagement decisions for the period of May 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016 (FY2015).  The notice outlined the State’s designation, i.e. universal, targeted, or intensive, for (1) Results, (2) Compliance, (3) Dispute Resolution, and (4) Fiscal, as well as the ongoing engagement in the State in each of the areas.  The notice also informed the State of the new engagement OSEP will complete during the remainder of the fiscal year.  Notification of specific activities will follow.  OSEP will issue FY2016 DMS notifications to all Part B and Part C programs in September 2016.  FY2016 activities will be conducted from October 1, 2016-September 30, 2017 and will include Results, Compliance, Fiscal, and the SSIP.  Please contact your State Lead if you have any questions.

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OSERS: Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity

OSERS Releases STEM Dear Colleague Letter with  OESE, OII and OCTAE 

 Access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education has been the focus of recent efforts at the Department, including a Dear Colleague Letter released this month by the Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), Innovation and Improvement (OII), and OSERS. The letter intends to help SEAs, LEAs, and their partners understand how to support innovative Pre-K-12 STEM education strategies using Federal funds. 


Resources which support STEM in the early years have also been released by the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services and the organization Too Small to Fail. Tools in the "Let's Talk, Read and Sing about STEM!" package include:


  • Tip sheet for families
  • Tip sheets for infant/toddler teachers and preschool teachers
  • “Let’s Talk About the World” poster
Michael Yudin

OSERS Hosts Hangout to #RethinkDiscipline

OSERS Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin hosted a live discussion on April 21, focusing on the perspectives of youth, parent and educator advocates working to promote school discipline reform. The discussion covered recent successes in changing policy and practice, as well as current priorities for grassroots advocates. 

Speakers included:

Hashim BenfordPower U Center for Social Change; Jessica BlackBlack Organizing Project; Carlil PittmanVoices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE); Sarah Johnson,

VOYCE; and Anna BeanTeacher’s Unite.


Remember that comments on the Equity in IDEA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) are due May 15, 2016. See our discipline website for more information and tools for commenting on the NPRM.



Federal Register Notices

Grant Opportunity: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities

National Center for Students With Disabilities Who Require Intensive Intervention (CFDA No. 84.326Q)

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 28, 2016

Proposed Priority, and DeadlineTechnical Assistance on State Data Collection program. See Federal Register for more information.

Comments due on or before June 6, 2016

Technical Assistance 

The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE): 

Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships*

This document, recently published by OSEP-funded CADRE, provides suggestions on how educators and service providers can effectively collaborate with parents, including tested strategies that can help ensure a productive IEP meeting. *Available in both English and Spanish.

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CEEDAR Center State Policy Profile Map

The Collaborative for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR Center), in collaboration with the New Teacher Center and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders have established the CEEDAR Center State Policy Profile Map.  

This policy map contains issue-specific policy summaries and fully downloadable profiles relating to the following areas that impact educator preparation: 

  • Teaching and Leadership Standards
  • Teacher and Leader Preparation
  • Teacher and Principal Certification/Licensure
  • Teacher and Principal Induction
  • Teacher and Principal Professional Development Standards

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NEWS FROM THE DEPARTMENT: Improving School Climate

John King

ED Releases Resources for Schools to Assess School Climate

Last month the U.S. Department of Education released new school climate surveys and a quick guide on making school climate improvements to help foster and sustain safe and supportive environments that are conducive to learning for all students.


The ED School Climate Surveys and the Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements will enable states, local school districts, and individual schools to collect and act on reliable, nationally-validated school climate data in real-time. These new free and adaptable resources will enable educators, administrators, and school system leaders to understand and create environments where every child can be successful.


In addition to the Quick Guide, a series of tools will be released later this this spring and summer as part of the School Climate Improvement Resource Package, a web-based suite of action-oriented, research and evidence-based resources to help create and support positive school climates.

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ED on Instagram @usedgov

The US Department of Education is now on Instagram! Follow us @usedgov, where we're sharing the amazing stories of educators and learners across these United States!

Follow us on Twitter @Ed_Sped_Rehab

Twitter Logo Blue

OSERS is on Twitter with the latest from special education advocates, educators, families and students. Follow us @Ed_Sped_Rehab and tell your friends. We'll see you in the Twittersphere!


Send Us Your Feedback and Comments


We want to hear from you! Do you have suggestions for TA opportunities? Parent resources? Webinar topics? Ideas for things to include in future newsletters? Send them to Charlotte Stein at

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