Final Summer Reading List: Funding Opportunities and Resources for the First Days of School

Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

August 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!

As the school year opens, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is here to provide resources, disseminate evidence-based practices, and collect your ideas on how best to improve our efforts to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel for all students with disabilities.  Last week we concluded our third symposia, Attracting Personnel to Serve Children with Disabilities, in our Effective Personnel for ALL: Attract, Prepare, Retain series. What a great opportunity to hear from our national partners who shared current data, evidence-based practices, resources, and collaborative ideas. 


The series addressed the importance of attracting individuals who are well qualified and from diverse backgrounds; preparing personnel with the competencies and skills to use evidence-based practices in natural environments, classrooms and schools, and to retain effective personnel by providing support during the early career years. The final symposia focused on attracting new personnel. States often consider this the most critical and challenging task of the three factors that go into ensuring effective personnel for all.


States have expressed the importance of engaging diverse stakeholders to address the challenges of  attracting, preparing, and retaining an effective education workforce today - challenges that reach across early intervention, early childhood, and K-12 education, including the delivery of related services. Programs like Grow Your Own EducatorsTeacher Cadet programs that begin in high school, Pathways2Teaching, and alternative certification programs focusing on “career switchers” or retired military personnel are examples of initiatives that benefited these efforts.


OSEP has a strong history of supporting states in their pre-service and in-service preparation efforts, as well as in supporting teachers, leaders, and related service providers; this work will continue. OSEP has several active initiatives and some in the planning phase that I’d like to bring to your attention. OSEP recently released a blog to ask for examples of innovative strategies to attract, prepare, and retain educators. Additionally, OSEP will conduct a series of focus groups over the next several months to gain additional information regarding what is currently working that we can capitalize on. Finally, in early spring we will host a stakeholder summit to share what we have learned that is working and to develop an action plan for next steps needed to attract, prepare, and retain educators and related service providers.


This challenge is great, but we must move from problem admiration to problem attack, mitigation, and improvement. Together we can accomplish great things.  I look forward to our continued effort.


Thank you for all you do on behalf of our infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities every day. You are making a difference. Let’s continue to elevate the education and related service provision professions! 


Best of luck for the 2019-20 year.


OSEP Funding Opportunities

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OSEP recently posted the following notices inviting applications: 

OSEP Has a Resource for That. Spread the News!

OSEP, directly and through its partners and grantees, develops a wide range of research-based products, publications, and resources to assist states, local district personnel, and families to improve results for students with disabilities. In this new OSEP Update section, OSEP will highlight the work of its funded projects by focus area with the hope that you will disseminate the resources within your circles, and they within theirs. OSEP supports great work. Help us ensure that everyone knows! 

Start Here.

Looking for a place to start? The OSEP IDEAs That Work website is designed to provide easy access to information from research to practice initiatives funded by OSEP that address the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act. This website includes resources, links, and other important information relevant to OSEP’s research to practice efforts. 


Previous Months' OSEP Updates

The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems

The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition

Center for Great Teachers and Leaders logo

Focus Area: Teacher Leaders

The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at American Institutes for Research supports states and districts in their efforts to grow, respect, and retain great teachers and leaders for all students, especially  those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The center works with states and districts to identify and implement innovative-based programs, practices, and interventions that improve both educator and students outcomes.

National Center on Intensive Intervention logo

Focus Area: Intensive Intervention

The mission of the National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes of Research is to build the capacity of state and local education agencies, universities, practitioners, and other stakeholders; it supports implementation of intensive intervention in literacy, mathematics, and behavior for students with severe and persistent learning and/or behavioral needs, often in the context of their multi-tiered system of support or special education services. 

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.

State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report 

As part of its efforts to support states in improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families, OSEP is considering modifying the factors the U.S. Department of Education (Department) uses in making its annual determinations under IDEA section 616(d). Parents, grantees, and other stakeholders were given an opportunity to comment and provide input on a series of determinations-related questions during OSEP’s 2019 Leadership Conference. OSEP is also seeking feedback through a mailbox that will be active through Aug. 30. 


The state performance plan/annual performance report (SPP/APR) online submission system currently hosted on GRADS360° is being retired. Beginning with the FY18 SPP/APR, due Feb. 1, 2020, states will submit using the Department's universal APR tool currently under development on the EDFacts Metadata Process System. In the coming months, OSEP will host several informational calls for states on the new system. Contact your state lead if you have questions.


State Systemic Improvement Plans 

State leads have completed reviews of their states’ Part C and Part B State Systemic Improvement Plans (SSIPs) submitted on April 1.  State leads are conducting feedback calls with states during August and September.


Differentiated Monitoring and Support

OSEP released its FY 2019 differentiated monitoring and support (DMS) notices to states on Aug. 16. The DMS notices include the levels of engagement (LOE) for each state in the four DMS areas: results, compliance, fiscal and the SSIP. Each state was assigned an LOE of intensive, targeted, or universal in each of the four areas. State leads are working with each state on OSEP’s engagement in the coming year in each area. In addition, four Part B and four Part C programs were informed in their DMS notice that they were selected for on-site visits this year. State leads are working with the selected states to schedule visits.


OSEP’s Monthly Technical Assistance Call to States

During OSEP’s monthly technical assistance call on Aug. 8, OSEP, along with team members from the Innovative Resources for Instructional Success Center (IRIS Center), presented information regarding the free, online open educational resources developed and disseminated by the IRIS Center. The IRIS Center offers a wide variety of resources and services to suit diverse instructional needs and circumstances.  


Resources and Research to Use

Beautiful Rainbow

State Personnel Development Grants

Beautiful Rainbow is a program of Gadsden City Schools, Gadsden, Alabama, supported by the Alabama State Personnel Development Grant. The program uses the operation of a farm-to-table café and a garden to teach students with significant disabilities and autism spectrum disorder the skills they need to work independently in the community. Students learn organic gardening, sophisticated food preparation and customer relations. This program has had a high level of success, with most graduates achieving gainful employment. A documentary film about the program was recently selected for viewing at five film festivals.

Special Educator Shortages

The Educator Shortages in Special Education Toolkit is organized around the guiding principle that short-term strategies to meet immediate demand must be intentionally paired with long-term, systemic strategies to attract, prepare, and retain effective special education teachers to create comprehensive shortage solutions. The toolkit is organized around a facilitator’s guide and three supporting sets of tools. The facilitator’s guide is designed to lead state teams through a collaborative process to develop a comprehensive approach for addressing special education teacher shortages. Aligned with current efforts from OSEP, this process intentionally examines shortages across the entire career continuum—from attracting to preparing to retaining teachers—so that all students with disabilities have access to effective teachers.

IES logo

National Teacher and Principal Survey

The National Center for Education Statistics with the Institute of Education Sciences at the Department recently released Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey First LookThis First Look report provides descriptive statistics and basic information from the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey Public School and Private School Data files.

National Center on Intensive Intervention logo

Mathematics Interventions

The new Intensive Intervention in Mathematics Course Content from the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) and partners can be used to support professional development and pre-service preparation to improve educators' ability to support students struggling with mathematics. The course includes eight modules focused on math content, assessment, intervention, instructional strategies, and more. Each module includes video lectures, instructional examples, related readings, practice-based opportunities, and companion coaching resources. Faculty interested in learning how the content can be used in their coursework can view an archived webinar on the NCII website.

national center on deaf blindness

Families of Children with Deaf-Blindness

The National Center on Deaf-Blindness has a series of profiles that use a family-centered approach to provide information about key educational practices for children who are deaf-blind. Told mostly through video, these Families Matter Stories will help you discover how individuals who are deaf-blind learn, develop, and live their lives. The most recent story, Meet Paul Uribe, is about a 6-year-old boy who has combined vision and hearing loss due to CHARGE syndrome. In this story you'll learn how Paul communicates, moves, plays, and learns. You'll also meet his parents who have made it a priority to connect with other families through the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, their state deaf-blind project, and social media.

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 Update 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

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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.