OSEP's September 2020 Update: Federal COVID-19 Resources | Dose of Data | Research You Can Use | Engage With Us

Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

September 2020: In This Issue of the OSEP Update

Inside OSEP: Laurie's Letter

Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Laurie VanderPloeg official portrait

Hello, Stakeholders,


I am writing my letter this month on the day following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was a true champion of individuals with disabilities. At the beginning of her career, she argued before the Supreme Court to defend the rights of a woman with intellectual disabilities in Cox v. Stanton. Later, as a respected member of the Court she wrote the majority opinion for the landmark ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. She also joined the majority in the Court’s Endrew F. decision. I am inspired by her leadership on behalf of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and will heed her call to “fight for the things that you care about ...”


Justice Ginsburg encouraged us to “fight,” but she finished her thought on leadership by encouraging us to “… do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” To me, her counsel is emblematic of the work we do each day. We fight to ensure that infants and toddlers receive early intervention services through a pandemic. We fight to ensure that children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education in whichever environment — virtual, hybrid, or in-person, the child is receiving an education during the 2020–2021 school year. And we do it in ways that will lead others to join us. We provide guidance and technical assistance on proven educational strategies. We show up to deliver early intervention and special education and related services using strategies and methods that we never thought possible, and yet we’re making it work. We champion innovative ways of home/school collaboration and parent engagement because we know that it’s going to take all of us.


I want you to know that I see you fighting for the things you care about and appreciate all of your efforts to do so in ways that will lead others to join you.


Federal COVID-19 Resources

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IDEA Topics in the Current COVID-19 Environment

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Catalog of Department Resources

Check the Department's COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel web page for additional information and resources.

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CDC Guidance for Child Care, Schools, and Youth Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a web page that provides information for child care, schools, and youth programs to plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19. Topics include:

  • If you're open
  • Deciding to open
  • Ongoing mitigation strategy
  • Prevention and support
  • Communication resources

Dose of Data

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Did You Know?

In 2018–19, 3.48% of infants and toddlers ages birth through 2 received early intervention services under Part C of IDEA. The majority of infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages birth through 2, received early intervention services in the home setting. In 2017–18, approximately 37% of infants and toddlers who exited Part C or turned age 3 were eligible for Part B services. Learn more at the OSEP Fast Facts site.


OSEP recently announced 30-day public comment periods for two information collection packages related to the IDEA Section 618 Part C data:

  1. the IDEA Section 618 Part C Child Count, Settings, and Exiting data information collection package; and
  2. the IDEA Section 618 Part C Dispute Resolution data information collection package.

No changes are being proposed for these data collections. To provide comment, please go to:

Comments must be submitted via Regulations.gov by October 13, 2020 for the Part B Dispute Resolution data collection and by October 16, 2020 for the Part C Child Count, Settings, and Exiting data collections.


OSEP-funded TA Center COVID-19 Resources

OSERS’ technical assistance centers are ready to address your questions regarding the IDEA and best practices and alternate models for providing special education and related services, including through distance instruction. The National Center for Systemic Improvement is the primary source for technical assistance resources during the COVID-19 national emergency for IDEA Part B programs. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center is the primary source for IDEA Part C programs. For questions pertaining to Part C of IDEA, states should contact their Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center State Contact. For Part B of IDEA, states should contact the National Center for Systemic Improvement.

Early Childhood

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) is providing short testimonials that describe the ease of use and benefits of virtual home visits. A new resource emphasizes practices that have proven effective in meeting the challenges of providing services to young children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find the latest information on transition from IDEA Part C to Part B, Section 619 During COVID-19 as well as on the review of Existing Documentation for Children. Updates were recently made to the Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Delivery of IDEA Early Childhood Services During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.


Other OSEP-funded TA Center Resources

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Guides to Education Technologies

As schools begin reopening for the school year, a group of 70 developers and researchers collaborated to produce a new series of Guides to Education Technologies.” This resource guide presents information on government-supported education technology products that are ready now for in-class and remote learning. All the resources are web-based and can be used on computers, tablets, or personal devices. Many of the technologies personalize learning by adjusting the content to students as they go and provide information to educators to inform instruction. The guide focuses on the following areas: early learning, math, science and engineering, social studies, and special education.


Strategies and Key Practices with the Goal of Supporting Students with the Most Intensive Behavioral Needs

Returning to School: Considerations for Students with the Most Intensive Behavioral Needs. A Guide to Supporting Students With Disabilities, Their Families, and Educators During the 2020–21 School Year includes a set of strategies and key practices with the ultimate goal of supporting students with the most intensive behavioral needs, their families, and educators in their transitions back to school during and following the global pandemic in a manner that prioritizes their health and safety, social and emotional needs, and behavioral and academic growth. Additionally, the Center on Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) has issued a compressive guide that provides information to support implementation at the state, district, school, and classroom levels. To access the four recently published PBIS resources, visit here.

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Activities at Home During the Pandemic

National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) has created a web page for families called Ideas for Activities at Home During COVID-19 Pandemic. It provides resources to help children who are deaf-blind continue to learn and have fun while schools are closed.

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Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) at Home

The National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) released a new resource designed to help families use curriculum-based measurement (CBM) at home. The webpage, CBM at Home teaches families how to use a CBM to assess their child in grades K-3 to get an overall picture of his or her reading skills and risk for reading disabilities. The page also includes home based activities that are based on research and can fit into families’ daily routines.

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Center for Parent Information and Resources Coronavirus-Related Resources

The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) has developed a landing page on coronavirus-related resources most relevant to families. The resources are curated and divided into a suite of stand-alone pages that are organized by topics such as COVID-19 information in other languages, schooling at home, and coping with COVID-19 for children and adults. The topic-specific pages help visitors more easily find resources relevant to their questions and concerns. CPIR is updating the pages and posting selective new info via their Facebook and Twitter feeds. The resources can be useful and timely to share with families and professionals alike.

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Questions for Proactive and Equitable Educational Implementation

The COVID-19 Education Coalition Centering Equity workgroup with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has released a set of questions that addresses accessibility, educator capacity, quality of learning opportunities, and educational outcomes.

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In Pursuit of an Equitable Start:
Leveraging and Expanding Public Funding to Support a More Equitable Recovery for Young Children, Families, and Child Care Workers

This brief developed by PolicyLink in conjunction with ZERO TO THREE's Think Babies initiative describes how COVID-19 is widening existing racial and economic gaps in opportunities for infants and toddlers.

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Considerations for Building Post-COVID Early Care and Education Systems that Serve Children with Disabilities

This fact sheet, developed by Child Trends, examines three critical implications for families with young children with disabilities during the pandemic. Topics covered include the intersectionality of disability, race, and ethnicity, and how it plays out across the country; the specific impact of the pandemic on families; and issues for states to consider as early childhood education programs begin to reopen.


Research You Can Use

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Can Texting Parents Improve Attendance in Elementary School?

Can Texting Parents Improve Attendance in Elementary School? presents findings from a study that tested four versions of an adaptive text messaging strategy. In the fall parents were randomly assigned to receive “basic” messaging—texts about the importance of attendance and same day absence notifications—or just usual school communications.

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Teacher Preparation and Employment Outcomes of Beginning Teachers

REL Northeast & Islands examined employment outcomes for beginning teachers in Rhode Island who completed a teacher preparation program in the state between 2012/13 and 2016/17 and went on to teach for at least one year in the state public school system.

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Teacher Turnover and Access to Effective Teachers

Teacher turnover can be expensive and disruptive to schools and students and can reduce access to effective teachers. A new REL Mid-Atlantic report examines access to effective teachers, factors related to teacher turnover, and the role of turnover in the equitable distribution of effective teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. The study examined teachers who taught kindergarten through grade 12 in school years 2010/11 through 2016/17.

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No Tech to High Tech

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) is glad to share its "No Tech to High Tech" guidance and resource for transition service delivery.

Interagency Collaboration

The Transition Coalition — in partnership with NTACT — has released a new module, Interagency Collaboration.

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Effective Practice Implementation Packages

Find resources for implementing an evidence-based practice, such as video modeling to teach a transition skill or the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction to teach goal setting, with accompanying video supports to assist practitioners in preparing to implement.

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Wisconsin Promise’s Promising Practices

Wisconsin Promise has completed the Promising Practices website, a website for professionals working to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The website was developed based on the practices, strategies, and tools they used, developed, and found useful during the implementation of Wisconsin PROMISE.

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TIES Center

Providing Meaningful General Education Curriculum Access to Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

TIES Center recently published two briefs on access to the general education curriculum by students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The brief, Providing Meaningful General Education Curriculum Access to Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities (Brief #4), addresses the question of what access to and progress in the general education curriculum means for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

The General Education Curriculum – Not an Alternate Curriculum

The brief, The General Education Curriculum - Not an Alternate Curriculum! (Brief #5), was developed to help parents determine whether their child with significant cognitive disabilities is provided meaningful access to the general education curriculum.

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Optimizing Distance Learning Begins with Selection

The State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP) Center guidance on the critical factors to consider when selecting online learning resources for use within online and blended learning contexts can be found here.

Changing Contexts: Are we Purposefully Thinking Through Adaptation and Implementation Fidelity?

Key questions to consider when planning purposeful adaptations to evidence based practices for new contexts such as online learning or blended learning environments.

Virtual Administrations for Capacity and Implementation Assessments

Guidance on how to administer and collect implementation capacity assessments and other implementation assessments virtually.

State Performance Plans (SPP) Letters and Annual Performance Report (APR) Letters

The final version of state’s federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018 SPP/APR submissions is now publicly available on OSEP’s ED.gov website. From that page, please click on the link for your state to access all available documents. Posted files only include those documents that are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Other documents that states submitted with the FFY 2018 APR, which were not compliant with Section 508, must be posted on states’ websites.

APR documents from FFY 2017–2016 will continue to be available on GRADS360°. If you need access to older APR documents, please contact the Partner Support Center.

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IDEAs That Work

MSIP has new content on the IDEA website and the IDEAs That Work website. OSEP presented on the content that is on each website during the August 13, 2020 OSEP Monthly Technical Assistance (TA) call. Registration links for future TA calls and recording from previous TA calls will be posted on the same page.

Differentiated Monitoring and Support

OSEP rolled out its DMS 2.0 process on the August 26, 2020 OSEP Monthly Technical Assistance Call. The call recording and handout can be accessed on the MSIP program area page on the IDEAs That Work website. More information on the DMS 2.0 process will be posted the IDEA website.

Period of Availability for FFY 2018 IDEA Part B Funds Waivers

Many States have submitted waiver requests of the Period of Availability for FFY 2018 funds. For more information specific to Part B and Part C please access our website.



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!

20 OSEP Tweets for 2020

August 17 – September 14, 2020

  • Tweet # 1: Facial expressions can tell us so much. @PyramidModel provides tips for how you can help children understand emotions when wearing masks.
  • Tweet # 2: @CenterOnPBIS offers a guide to returning to school during and after a global pandemic. The guide supports states, districts, schools, educators and students through a multi-tiered systems of support framework.
  • Tweet # 3: Some states are providing remote service delivery as an alternative way to serve young children with developmental delays and disabilities at home with their families.
  • Tweet # 4: Distance learning can be a challenge for all involved. @NCEOinfo has an educator brief on five formative assessment strategies to improve distance learning outcomes for students with disabilities.
  • Tweet # 5: Group learning platforms have played a prominent role in education since March. A TIES Center module promotes engagement for students with significant cognitive disabilities on group learning platforms.
  • Tweet # 6: Some IEP teams are now meeting virtually. Tip sheets from @parentcenter can help hosts and participants of virtual IEP meetings.
  • Tweet # 7: In this high leverage practice video, learn about cognitive and metacognitive strategies in a distance environment. These strategies help students to become self-directed, independent learners.
  • Tweet # 8: @NCILiteracy’s remote literacy learning toolkit has briefs, infographics and more to help schools and families jointly support children’s literacy growth in remote or blended learning environments.
  • Tweet # 9: In collaboration with educators, @TheNCII developed new reading and math sample lessons to support continuity of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons include videos and tip sheets for educators and parents.
  • Tweet # 10: Early childhood programs and providers can reference @PyramidModel’s tips for connecting and guiding conversations with families as programs reopen.
  • Tweet # 11: Find loads of resources compiled by @ECTACenter to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include toolkits, handouts, videos and more!
  • Tweet # 12: Educators and service providers have had to find ways to deliver services remotely even when students and communities have unequal access to internet and technology. @TransitionTA has alternative suggestions to help.
  • Tweet # 13: Attention parents and teachers! @IRISCenter has an interactive tool to help parents prepare for back-to-school 2020. Content covers reading, math, social and emotional well-being, and more.
  • Tweet # 14: Need key strategies on educational and transition planning for #DeafStudents? A flexible, positive approach along with @nationaldeafctr resources, tip sheets, and toolkits can support #DeafSuccess.
  • Tweet # 15: What are the four essential elements of data literacy and how can they guide teams in using data to make accurate and feasible decisions? This webinar from @TheNCSI @K12Progress and @AIRinforms MTSS Center can help.
  • Tweet # 16: The @nationaldb_ncdb developed a page for families that has educational activities and routines to do at home. Find ideas and resources to help children who are deaf-blind continue to learn and have fun.
  • Tweet # 17: Meet Anna Cordas and Erin Erjavec, preschool education interventionists from @bwlsd Elementary School. Anna and Erin discuss how they delivered remote learning services for their inclusive classrooms during the pandemic.
  • Tweet # 18: Families and early childhood special education practitioners can use @STEMIIEE’s storybook conversations to engage young children in STEM discussions. Find helpful storybook conversations tip sheets and blog posts: stemie.fpg.unc/storybook.conv.
  • Tweet # 19: @Bookshare’s Learn Anywhere initiative explains how ebooks help struggling readers to learn on their own. Bookshare enables teachers and parents to safely and remotely assign books to students.
  • Tweet # 20: The final “20 OSEP Tweets for 2020” resource comes from OSEP IDEAS That Work. Find webinars, briefs and other resources to assist teachers, providers, leaders and families with continuity of learning during COVID-19.

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!


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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 rebecca.walawender@ed.gov.


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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.