Your Turn to Rethink Results Driven Accountability

Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

November 2018: In This Issue

Top News: Your Turn to Rethink Results Driven Accountability

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)/Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is rethinking Results Driven Accountability(RDA) to ensure we are in the best position to improve early childhood and educational outcomes and raise expectations for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. Specifically, we are interested in your thoughts about what is working well and what may not be working well with the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR), the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), annual determinations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and OSEP's system of differentiated monitoring and support (DMS). 


Please submit your comments to We will review and consider all input.

Inside OSEP: Laurie's Letter

Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Office of Special Education Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Hello Stakeholders!

As a special educator, administrator, and parent of a person with a disability I am honored, humbled, and excited to partner with you as we move the work of OSEP forward. During my first few weeks on the job, I have had the opportunity to experience personally what I have been observing from the field for many years. First, the OSEP staff are visionary, passionate, and have vast knowledge and an unwavering commitment to improved outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. Second, that knowledge and commitment is matched by those of you working in the field. You, our key stakeholders and caregivers of children with disabilities, are on the front lines working to ensure that nothing limits any child with a disability from being prepared for what comes next.


Over the next few months, I plan to build on OSERS’/OSEP’s commitment to rethink special education. I’ve started meeting with external partners, and I’ll share with you what I’ve shared with them. We are at a critical point on this journey of continuous improvement. OSEP has taken steps to align our systems and will continue to focus on implementing the requirements of the IDEA and improving results for students with disabilities.


Another priority area will be the teacher shortage. We must have highly effective staff that can deliver the specially designed instruction needed to improve results.


OSEP will continue to support states in their work and provide states flexibility, within the constructs of the law, in implementing their programs and improving outcomes for children with disabilities and their families. OSEP will partner with anyone and everyone who is focused on raising expectations and improving outcomes for children with disabilities.


I am excited to lead OSEP and look forward to our partnership!



Results Driven Accountability: What's Due and What's New

OSEP's Monitoring and State Improvement Planning division conducts many state-focused activities under the umbrella of RDA. You can read more about this innovative initiative to target educational results for children and youth with disabilities and their families here

State Performance Plans and Annual Performance Report 

The 2018 Part B and Part C Indicator Analysis documents are now available on GRADS 360°. The Indicator Analysis documents provide an indicator-by-indicator look at the SPP/APR across all states. In addition, the Part B and Part C SPP/APR packages for the FY2017 submission, due Feb. 1, 2019, are now available.


State Systemic Improvement Plans 

OSEP’s Dec. 13, 2018 national technical assistance call will focus on the upcoming SSIP submission (Phase III, Year 3). OSEP will answer some frequently asked questions and provide writing tips and helpful hints.

Dose of Data: EDFacts Information Collection Open for Public Comment

The proposed EDFacts information collection package for SY 2019--20, 2020--21, and 2021--22 is now available for review and public comment on


EDFacts collects data on behalf of U.S. Department of Education (ED) grant and program offices. The proposed package includes pre-kindergarten through grade 12 performance data about students, schools, staff, services, and educational outcomes at the state, district, and school levels. Approximately 160 data groups are included in the proposed package, and respondents include all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, outlying areas and freely associated states, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).


All related documents are found at this link


Comments in response to this notice must be submitted electronically through the COMMENT button on We encourage you to widely share this announcement with all stakeholders.


The public comment period closes on Jan. 7, 2019.

Parent Center Picks: A Resource Collection for Trauma-Informed Care

Center for Parent Information and Resources logo

A team of OSEP-funded Parent Centers recently curated a collection of web-based resources on trauma-informed care.

The collection explores the following topics: 

  • What is trauma-informed care?
  • Trauma and specific populations
  • Building trauma-informed schools
  • Responding to disasters

Many of the resources are available in Spanish and other languages.

Update From ED: New Educator and Developer Toolkits for English Learners

ED Logo

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology its educator and developer toolkits for English learners.  


These resources can be particularly valuable for supporting English learners with disabilities engagement in instruction and access to content in many ways. The toolkits are based on insights from surveys, case studies, and meetings with experts in the field, including educational technology publishers, researchers, and educators. The Educator Toolkit supports educators in using technology to help their English learners gain proficiency in English and meet academic goals. The Developer Toolkit can help developers design educational technology that is useful for English learners.

Resources to Use: Spotlight on Accessible Educational Materials

IDEAs That Work logo

The OSEP-funded National Center on Accessible Educational Materials has developed two resources to help educators with accessible educational materials (AEM). The first, Navigating AEM, is a tool that outlines questions states, districts, and schools should ask before purchasing educational materials to determine if they are accessible.  


The second, Creating AEM, helps educators who are designing their own learning materials to ensure that they are accessible. Both resources outline the four POUR (perceivable, operable, understandable and robust) accessibility guidelines, in educator-friendly language, that can be used to ensure accessible materials and resources are available for their students.

Collaboration Corner: Supporting States in Implementing the State-level 1 Percent Cap on Participation in Alternate Assessments

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) held a convening in Boston on Oct. 18 and 19  to help states work with local educational agencies (LEAs) in meeting the requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These requirements are related to participation in the alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, often referred to as the "1 percent cap."


The convening was led by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO), in partnership with other ED-funded TA Centers, OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs, and OESE’s Office of State Support. Through a facilitated and collaborative process, the convening provided technical assistance to 47 states and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) in meeting the statutory and regulatory requirements.


All attendees left with an action plan to take back to their state teams to further refine their plans for implementing the 1 percent state-level cap. One hundred and nineteen state representatives completed the meeting evaluation and provided positive ratings on questions measuring quality, usefulness, and relevance. On average, more than 90 percent of the ratings were in the “High” or “Very High” rating category.


For additional information, visit, to view PowerPoint presentations from the convening and related materials.

Voices from the Field: Erica Sommer on Teaching English Learner Students with Disabilities

Erica Sommer teacher from TX

Erica Sommer is a special education teacher in Del Valle Independent School District, which serves students in and around Austin, Texas.


Sommer works closely with the district’s substantial English learner population. She has almost 15 years of teaching experience and has been passionate about teaching for as long as she remembers. She shared with us how working with English learner students and those with disabilities has impacted her as a teacher and an individual.

Read More


Combined Federal Programs Meeting - Dec. 6-7, 2018

OSS and OSEP look forward to hosting state directors at the upcoming Combined Federal Programs Meeting in Washington, DC. Participants will include state directors of Title I, Title II, Title III, School Improvement, Foster Care, Assessment, and IDEA programs. States were invited to send teams with representation across federal programs to promote the discussion and alignment of ESSA implementation across federal programs. The conference agenda includes time for program-specific sessions, policy updates, sharing new resources, and progress checks with OSS and OSEP staff.


State Strategies for Seamless Service Delivery and Transition: Implementing the Extended Part C Option - Dec. 19, 2018

The extended Part C option is in the IDEA regulations was designed to provide states with the flexibility to allow toddlers who would be eligible to receive services under Part B Section 619 to remain in early intervention after age 3. In an encore presentation from the 2018 Improving Data Improving Outcomes conference, Washington, D.C. and Maryland will share their rationale for deciding to use the option and their implementation approaches. The webinar will be held from 3-4 p.m. PM EST. Register at this link.


State Strategies for Seamless Birth to 5 Services: Strategies for Summer Birthdays and Local Infrastructure Support - Jan. 14, 2019

The movement of children and their families from Part C early intervention to Section 619 early childhood special education services should occur as smoothly as possible. In an encore presentation from the 2018 Improving Data Improving Outcomes conference, two states will present on this topic. Missouri will share policies and processes for addressing summer birthdays. New Mexico will describe its state and local infrastructure for coordination and strategies such as local agreements, transition teams and transition coaches. The webinar will be held from 3-4 p.m. EST. Register at this link.


OSEP Leadership Conference is set for July 2019

The 2019 OSEP Leadership Conference is scheduled for July 22–24, 2019, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel in Arlington, Virginia. More information, such as who this conference is intended for and what was discussed in previous years, can be found on our website.

Engage With Us! Social Media and More


Connect With OSERS and Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett on Twitter

Twitter Logo Blue

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

Visit the OSERS Blog and OSEP Newsletter Archive

Visit our blog for powerful stories and useful information from parents, families, educators, and practitioners in the field. Be sure to bookmark for future posts!


IDEA splash image with pictures of children with disabilities

You can also check out the IDEA website newsletter archive for past editions of the OSEP Update. Readers are invited to send their feedback on the newsletter to

 If you know someone who would like to subscribe to the OSEP Update newsletter and breaking news, encourage them to sign up HERE! This link will also allow subscribers to manage their subscriber settings and unsubscribe. 

This newsletter may reference and contain links to external sources. The opinions expressed in these sources do not reflect the views, positions, or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, nor should their inclusion be considered an endorsement of any private organization.