Welcome Mark Schultz; Newly Funded Technical Assistance Centers

Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

October 2019: In This Issue of the OSEP Update

Inside OSEP: Laurie's Letter

Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg

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Hello Stakeholders!

October marks the beginning of a new federal fiscal year and, with it, comes new leadership, new investments, and new ideas. 


I'm looking forward to working with Mark Schultz, who was recently delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Mark, the current Rehabilitative Services Administration commissioner, has had a long career in vocational rehabilitation. I've enjoyed working with Mark since he joined OSERS in August, and am confident that he will provide the leadership necessary to ensure improved outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families. You can read more about Mark below.


OSEP staff kicked off the new fiscal year with its annual planning retreat. We started the day looking back on what we've accomplished and ended by planning for this year. This fiscal year, OSEP will focus on three areas - disseminating technical assistance resources; ensuring that states have the support necessary to attract, prepare, and retain effective early intervention service providers, special educators, related service providers, and special education leaders; and providing timely technical assistance and support to states on critical issues that impact infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. Watch for this work to be rolled out over the next year.


As OSEP continues its efforts to improve the ability to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel for children with disabilities, we are asking for your input. Improvements in this area will require a collective effort among many stakeholders across the state and local levels. We continue to seek targeted input on systemic approaches, innovative strategies, and best practices being used to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel to serve children with disabilities; barriers to successful efforts to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel to serve children with disabilities; and ways OSEP can support states and local efforts to address the need for effective personnel. Please distribute the link below to local districts and programs so that we can continue to collect best practice examples to disseminate widely as we continue to address this important issue. The link below will ask your role and five questions to collect your experiences. Participation is voluntary but we hope you will assist us in this important effort.


Thank you in advance for your work to improve services for children with disabilities and your continued partnership in this effort.



Atrract Prepare Retain Survey link

Welcome Mark Schultz

Mark Schultz

OSEP welcomes Mark Schultz, delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for OSERS; the position recently vacated by Johnny Collett. In addition, Mark continues to serve as the OSERS rehabilitative services commissioner.


Mark joined the Department in August after a long career in vocational rehabilitation. Most recently, Mark was a deputy commissioner at the Nebraska Department of Education where his division included the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Office of Special Education. Prior to his role at the Nebraska Department of Education, he served as both the director and associate director with Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, director of the Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership and as a barrier-free design specialist for the League of Human Dignity, a Center for Independent Living. He has also served as a president of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation and a member of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Information Technology Steering Committee.


Mark’s inspiration for a career related to vocational rehabilitation stems from the experience of having a family member with mental and physical health issues resulting in a disability.

“This experience taught me the importance of work to one’s self-worth and self-esteem and provides a personal motivation for wanting to make a difference,” Mark said.

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 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 on Great Teachers & Leaders at American Institutes for Research

National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes for Research

State Implementation & Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices Center

The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes

This month, we highlight five investments that were funded in fiscal year 2019.


Promoting Rigorous Outcomes and Growth by Redesigning Educational Services for Students with Disabilities (PROGRESS Center). The PROGRESS Center will help private, public, and charter schools improve their capacity to design and implement high-quality, evidence-based educational programs to meet the standards of the Endrew F. decision. The expected outcomes are an increase in knowledge, awareness, and use of resources to improve quality and implementation, and ultimately an ecosystem of educators who can design and implement quality special education programs. The PROGRESS Center was awarded to American Institutes for Research and its website will launch soon.


National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI). NCSI will provide differentiated support to states through universal, targeted, and intensive technical assistance to help states best use their general supervision and professional development systems to establish and meet high expectations for each child with a disability. NCSI was awarded to WestEd.


National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM 2.0). AEM 2.0 will continue improving systems that provide accessible educational materials and technologies for individuals with disabilities in early learning, K-12, higher education, and workforce settings. AEM 2.0 was awarded to CAST.


The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center). The DaSy Center will provide technical assistance to (1) improve states’ capacity to collect, report, analyze and use high-quality IDEA Part C data required under IDEA sections 618 and 616 and IDEA Part B preschool data for those indicators that are not solely based on IDEA section 618 data (e.g., Indicators B7 and B12); and (2) enhance, streamline, and integrate statewide child-level early childhood data systems to address critical policy questions that will facilitate program improvement, improve compliance accountability, and improve outcomes for children served under Part C and Part B preschool special education programs. The DaSy Center was awarded to SRI International.


IDEA Data Center (IDC). IDC provides technical assistance to build state capacity for collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using IDEA Part B data, including preschool data. IDC also provides technical assistance to local education agencies (LEA), in partnership with states, to improve LEA data quality. IDC was awarded to Westat.

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.

OSEP Will Transition From the Current OSEP GRADS360°

OSEP will discontinue use of its current OSEP GRADS360° website on Jan. 1, 2020.


What this means for the public. All of the publicly-available information currently housed on the website will be transitioned by that date to other webpages including the IDEA webpage and the IDEAs That Work webpage. In the meantime, the OSEP GRADS360° webpage will continue to provide the public with access to the State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) and other resources.


What this means for state users: The SPP/APR online submission system currently hosted on GRADS360° is 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.


FFY 2018 Part B and Part C SPP/APR Reporting Templates Now Available!

Due to the transition to the new reporting tool, the system will not open for state submissions until Jan. 1, 2020. To help prepare for the 2020 submission, the Part B and C Templates can be accessed below:

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OSEP's Monthly Technical Assistance Call to States

During OSEP’s monthly technical assistance call on Oct. 10, OSEP provided - an overview of the FFY 2018 SPP/APR reporting template, updates on the transition from GRADS360 to the new APR reporting platform, and highlighted key changes within the FFY 2018 SPP/APR information collection package.

Dose of Data

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Did You Know?

In 2016-17, 30 states reported that more than 70% of students with disabilities, ages 14-21, who left school did so by graduating with a regular high school diploma. Source: 2016-17 Part B Exiting Data File 

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Requesting IDEA Data Technical Assistance

As you read above, the DaSy Center and IDC were awarded at the end of September. Route all IDEA data technical assistance requests, as follows:

  • IDEA Part C and Section 619 data: DaSy CONTACT US form
  • IDEA Part B data: Jeanna Mullins, IDC deputy director, at jeannamullinsconsulting@gmail.com

Resources and Research to Use

Dispute Resolution

Tale of Two Conversations  

This popular video resource has been updated. The two-part series shows a parent of a child with a disability and a school administrator demonstrating poor communication skills and then provides the positive alternative. 


Steps to Success: Communicating with Your Child’s School   

This brochure offers specific communication skills that may be helpful to parents as they develop and maintain partnerships with their child's school.


Considering Mediation for Special Education Disputes: A School Administrator’s Perspective   

This pamphlet describes, from an administrators perspective, the benefits of participating in mediation to solve special education disputes between parents and educators.

National Center for Intensive Intervention logo

Data-based Individualization

This fourteen minute video developed by the National Center on Intensive Intervention in partnership with Wyoming’s Department of Education shares Wyoming’s journey in building the capacity of educators to implement data-based individualization (DBI) to improve academic and behavior outcomes for students with disabilities as part of their state systemic improvement plan. Wyoming administrators, teachers, parents and students from Laramie County School District # 1 and preschool sites share how DBI implementation impacted teacher efficacy, team meetings, quality of services, student confidence, parent engagement, and state and local collaboration.

Engage With Us! Social Media and More


Connect With OSERS 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. 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 sites.ed.gov/osers 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 rebecca.walawender@ed.gov.

 If you know someone who would like to subscribe to the OSEP Update 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.