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Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

February 2019: In This Issue of the OSEP Update

Inside OSEP: Laurie's Letter

Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Office of Special Education Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Hello Stakeholders!

How do we increase the knowledge, skills, and capacities personnel within our system that are required to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and their families? One strategy is effective communication and resource dissemination.


One of my first realizations when digging in to this position is that OSEP and its grantees develop a wealth of evidence-based and high-quality, tested resources. However, some of the resources may not make it to the intended audiences, and if they do, dissemination may stop there.


A goal of my time at OSEP is to ensure that resources and other materials get in the hands of those who will use the information to inform their practice. This month's OSEP Update is filled with proven resources that will assist in improving outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and their families. Access the resources, put them into practice in your programs, and, just as importantly, share them widely.



OSEP Policy Letters

OSEP letter

Jan. 29, 2019: Letter to Nathan addresses a series of questions regarding the discipline protections for children not yet determined eligible for special education and related services under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Jan. 29, 2019: Letter to Wayne addresses a local educational agency's obligation to a parentally placed private school child with a disability when the child’s parent does not request FAPE for the child.


Jan. 29, 2019: Letter to Zirkel addresses questions regarding the implementation of response to intervention and multi-tiered systems of support.

On the Road: Assistant Secretary Collett Visits the Texas School for the Deaf

AS Collett at TSD

On Feb. 19, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett visited the Texas School for the Deaf to learn more about their education services for students birth through 21 years who are deaf or hard of hearing. He visited the toddler center, elementary school, middle and high school #STEM programs, career and technical education initiatives, and more. A highlight of his time was the direct interactions with students and teachers at the school. Check out a video of his visit.

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 Results Driven Accountability (RDA). You can read more about this innovative initiative to focus on educational results for children and youth with disabilities and their families here. Additionally, OSEP is examining RDA as a part of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services RETHINK framework.

Monthly National Technical Assistance Call

OSEP's Jan. 17 national technical assistance call focused on the FY19 IDEA Part B and Part C grant applications. The FY19 grant award packages and resources to assist you in completing the application are available here. Contact your state lead with any questions.


State Performance Plan / Annual Performance Report 

OSEP received each state's FY17 State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) on Feb. 1. As in previous years, OSEP will set aside a specific time in April for the SPP/APR clarification period. We will notify states as soon as the clarification dates are finalized.


State Systemic Improvement Plans 

State Systemic Improvement Plans (SSIP) are due by April 1. States are encouraged to reach out to their state lead with any questions about the SSIP submission process. States planning to submit a draft SSIP for OSEP review must do so by March 8.


State Applications

IDEA Part C FY19 grant applications are due May 3. Applications should be publicly posted no later than March 3 in order to meet the public participation requirements. IDEA Part B FY19 grant applications are due May 17 and should be publicly posted no later than March 17 in order to meet the public participation requirements. States are encouraged to contact their state lead with questions about preparing the grant award packages.


Differentiated Monitoring and Support 

OSEP has selected eight states to participate in onsite visits as a part of its FY18 Differentiated Monitoring and Support process. Visits will focus on those areas identified for monitoring and technical assistance in order to improve results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and their families. 

Dose of Data: Did You Know and Data Tools

Data Graphic

Did You Know?

In 2017, 24 states provided early intervention services to more than 3 percent of their state’s population of infants and toddlers birth through age 2. Explore the Part C Child Count and Settings by Age and State Static Table to learn more about what's happening in your state.

Data Tools

The DaSy Center recently released the Part C Child Find Funnel Chart tool. Funnel charts visualize data as they move from one phase to another. The tool uses Excel template to display data about infants and toddlers from referral through exit of the Part C process for a set of infants and toddlers referred within a specified time span. State or local Part C programs may use this tool to generate a funnel chart that allows for easy visualization of the data.


Access the Part C Child Find Funnel Chart tool here.

Technical Assistance Resources

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New From the IRIS Center 

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College has updated and expanded,its module Accommodations: Instructional and Testing Supports for Students with Disabilities. Content covered in the module includes

  • equality versus equity in the classroom and addressing the misconception that accommodations provide students with disabilities an unfair advantage;
  • the difference between accommodations, modifications, and instructional interventions or strategies; and
  • the four accommodations categories: presentation, response, setting, and timing and scheduling.

New Course Content: Enhancing Educators’ Understanding of Explicit Instruction

The National Center on Intensive Intervention, in partnership with the University of Connecticut, and with support from the CEEDAR Center, hasdeveloped a four-part course focused on features of explicit instruction. The course can be used by faculty or professional development providers to prepare or train pre-service or in-service educators and includes four modules:

Each module incorporates video presentations with examples and nonexamples from actual classroom teachers, a workbook of activities and checks for understanding, practice opportunities to apply new learning, PowerPoint slides to provide flexibility in delivery, and coaching resources. This course, along with three other courses in the series, were piloted with special educators in Bristol Warren Regional School District in Rhode Island. In this recent voices from the field video, Amy McKenna, one of the special educators who participated in the professional learning, shared the impact that these courses and implementing data-based individualization (including making her instruction more explicit) had on her and her students.

Protecting Student Privacy While Ensuring the Health and Safety of Students and Others in the School Community

The U.S. Department of Education's Student Privacy Policy Office recently released a guidance document consisting of 37 commonly asked questions about schools’ and school districts’ responsibilities under  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) relating to disclosures of student information to school resource officers, law enforcement units, and others, and seeks to explain and clarify how FERPA protects student privacy while ensuring the health and safety of students and others in the school community.

Strategies for Improving Adolescent Literacy Skills

The OSEP-funded PACT Plus (Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text) model demonstration project has produced a number of valuable resources geared towards assisting families and teachers in improving adolescent literacy skills. Resources include journal articles, guidebooks, and lesson plans.

National Center on Improving Literacy logo

Resources from the National Center on Improving Literacy

In its most recent, Ask an Expert, the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) talks with Jack Fletcher, professor of psychology at the University of Houston, about the importance of early intervention for children with dyslexia.


Additionally, NCIL has released a new Ask & Answer module on phonological awareness. The module answers questions about phonological awareness including 

  • what is phonological awareness;
  • why is it important;
  • how should it be taught; and
  • how can families support phonological awareness development?
Center for Parent Information and Resources logo

Advocacy in Action: A Guide to Local Special Education Parent Advisory Councils  

Local Special Education Parent Advisory Councils have been in operation in some states for decades. This guide draws on the experience and practice of these states and is “a road map to help bring stakeholders together, suggests strategies to help them engage in dialogue, and discusses best practices to help them work together to benefit the local community." 

2019 OSEP Leadership Conference: Registration and Call for Proposals

The Office of Special Education Programs will hold its 2019 Leadership Conference

July 22-24, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. 


The intended audience is

  • State agency staff - Part B state directors, Part C coordinators, 619 coordinators, and other federal programs staff;
  • Parent Center directors and staff;
  • Part B and Part C data managers;
  • Part D technical assistance providers; and
  • State Advisory Panels and State Interagency Coordinating Councils

Questions? Email

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Engage With Us! Social Media and More


Connect With OSERS and Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett on Twitter

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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!


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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

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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.