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

Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

October 2020: In This Issue of the OSEP Update

Inside OSEP: Laurie's Letter

Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Laurie VanderPloeg official portrait

Hello, Stakeholders.


There is no question that effective personnel are a key to improved outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. There is also no question that attracting, preparing, and retaining effective personnel is a concern for many lead agencies for Part C, early intervention services providers, State education agencies, and local education agencies. Lack of effective personnel disproportionately affects children with disabilities and their families due to the many unfilled positions and high attrition rates among early childhood personnel, special education teachers, and related services providers. Throughout my tenure, OSEP has been out-front on this issue. OSEP’s latest offering facilitated an opportunity to learn how other industries address attracting, preparing, and retaining effective personnel. On Oct. 27–29, OSEP hosted a virtual summit on improving effective personnel. The event drew over 5,000 participants who listened and learned from key organizational leaders who shared their perspectives, experiences, and effective strategies that we could apply to attract, prepare and retain special education personnel within our educational profession. They explored innovative and creative possibilities which challenged us to think differently about how best to address this critical issue. As we move toward improving results for our children with disabilities, we must ensure that each child has a positive relationship with an effective provider or teacher who has the knowledge and skills needed to deliver effective instruction, interventions, and supports and services.


We collectively need to support the practices and systems that ensure that every child, and especially children with disabilities, receive services from effective personnel. OSEP is committed to continuing the discussions and the work being done by organizations, training institutions, schools, and individuals all over this county. To that end, OSEP will be facilitating focus groups with identified key stakeholders to develop action plans on topics such as certification pathways, preservice experiences, media campaigns, grow your own programs, organizational memberships, coaching, mentoring and induction programs, administrative support, and equity.


The virtual summit referenced above was the culminating event in the Attract, Prepare, Retain symposia series. All events are posted on OSEP Ideas That Work. OSEP also maintains an Effective Personnel for All webpage to provide resources. Our OSEP TA Center resources are also available to support your efforts.


OSEP is committed to engaging with you and supporting you in your individual and collective efforts and I would challenge us all to engage in broader collective efforts to ensure that we Find One, Grow One, and Thank One. We must elevate our profession by disseminating promising practices and celebrating the great results we are collectively achieving. Best wishes as you continue to move into the 2020-21 school year. Stay safe and stay healthy!


Federal COVID-19 Resources

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IDEA Topics in the Current COVID-19 Environment

You can find the following COVID-19 documents and other related resources on the IDEA.gov COVID-19 page.

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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.

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)

OSEP would like to share resources from OESE that are readily applicable to children with disabilities. OESE’s Resources for Education Providers and Families page now includes Social Emotional and Behavioral Support Resources, which can be utilized by state and district leaders, schools and educators, and parents and families to support the well-being of students and educators as they confront the challenges of learning following natural disasters and during the national health crisis.


Additionally, the National Center published a new collection of resources to support Regional Centers, SEAs, LEAs, educators, and parents as they collectively navigate schooling during times of disruption. These resources meet the needs of students and educators by supporting access to the general education curriculum and environment for children with disabilities.


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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 school year 2018–19, 6.75% of the population, ages 3 through 5, were served under IDEA, Part B, for the United States and Outlying Areas.


New OSEP Fast Fact Released!

OSEP is pleased to introduce our newly released Fast Fact featuring children with disabilities aged 3 through 5 served under section 619 of the IDEA, Part B. For the OSEP Fast Facts: Children 3 through 5 Served Under IDEA Part B Section 619, we present data from the data collections authorized under IDEA Section 618 including those collected through child count and educational environments.

New Grants Awarded under the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection Grant Program:

The Center for the Integration of IDEA Data (CIID) supports integration of special education data with statewide longitudinal data systems for improved accuracy and efficiency for data collection, reporting, and use. CIID provides relevant and useful tools and products, technical assistance services for state education agencies (SEAs), increase in SEA knowledge of high-quality data systems architecture, SEA cohort of peers, improved SEA data coordination and governance, and coordination and collaboration among technical assistance centers and ED-funded supports in order to provide higher quality data for analysis in order to improve outcomes of children with disabilities. CIID was awarded to AEM Corporation. Please route all technical assistance requests to CIIDTA@aemcorp.com.


The Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting (CIFR) will focus on providing States with technical assistance to assist them in meeting their Part B and Part C fiscal data collection and reporting obligations under IDEA. Under Part B of IDEA, CIFR will support State educational agencies (SEAs) in their submission of fiscal data to the Department in

  • the IDEA Part B local educational agency (LEA) Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Reduction and Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) (LEA MOE/CEIS) Data Collection; and
  • Section V of the IDEA Part B Annual Application.

Under IDEA Part C, CIFR will support state lead agencies (LAs) in reporting fiscal data to the Department through

  • Section III of the IDEA Part C Annual Application (use of funds); and
  • Section IV of the IDEA Part C Annual Application (indirect costs). CIFR was awarded to WestEd.
  • Dave Phillips, Project Director for CIFR, dphilli2@wested.org
  • Jenifer Harr-Robins, Deputy Director for CIFR, jharr-robins@air.org

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

This interactive infographic will help families navigate the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) website for COVID-19 resources and information that help support their children's learning and development. The resource, developed by ECTA and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy), also received extensive contributions from several parent training and resource centers from across the country.

Supporting Students with Intensive Needs During COVID-19

NCII in partnership with educators participating in a community of practice during spring 2020 have developed a range of sample lessons and strategies for implementing intensive intervention during COVID-19 restrictions. Resource collections including math and reading lessons, behavior strategies, data collection and teaming materials, implementation support and collaborating with families. Visit the Supporting Students with Intensive Needs during COVID-19 webpage to find resources and check back as new resources are added.

NCII and Project STAIR Webinar Series Focused on Implementing DBI in Mathematics During COVID-19

In partnership with Project STAIR (Supporting Teaching of Algebra: Individual Readiness), NCII is hosting a series of webinars on assisting educators on how to intensify and individualize mathematics instruction and assess learner progress. The first webinar occurred on October 8 focused on introducing DBI and considerations for implementation in the virtual setting. The second webinar focused on assessment and occurred on October 22. The third webinar, focusing on intensification, will occur November 4 from 12–1 pm Eastern. View recordings and register for the upcoming webinars on the NCII website.

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. This guide was developed by the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII), Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS Center), and National Integrated Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Research Network as a companion to Returning to School During and After a Crisis with a recognition that our most vulnerable students often have greater needs across academics and behavior and also have the most difficulty with disruptions and generalizing across settings and contexts or learning content.

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National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB)

NCDB has a new web page for families called Activities at Home to Promote Transition Skills. It provides activities that are relevant during the pandemic or any time to help a child or youth prepare for employment, future education, and living as independently as possible.

Download "Removing Barriers to Effective Distance Learning by Applying the High-Leverage Practices" (PDF)

Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR Center) and the National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI)

Distance learning offers a unique opportunity to individualize and personalize instruction and establish inclusive learning environments for the range of diverse learners in every district, school, and virtual classroom. Applying high-leverage practices (HLPs) to lesson design and delivery, both in-person and virtually, empowers educators to provide the enabling conditions that ensure diverse learners are provided equitable access to high quality instruction, across all grade levels and in all content areas. In Removing Barriers to Effective Distance Learning by Applying the High-Leverage Practices, this special issues brief from the CEEDAR Center and NCSI outlines how HLPs can be employed to strengthen distance learning instruction for a diverse range of students by providing strategies to address common challenges students experience.


This brief is designed to support all teachers who are striving to ensure students of all backgrounds and abilities are provided equitable access to high-quality instruction in distance learning environments by:

  • Identifying several common barriers that impede effective distance learning;
  • Strengthening educators’ understanding and use of HLPs to address common barriers;
  • Identifying potential strategies that teachers can apply to improve equitable access to content and learning; and
  • Providing resources for teachers to further develop their knowledge and skill in implementing HLPs.


Other OSEP-funded TA Center Resources

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National Center on Inclusive Practices and Policies (TIES)

TIES Center has a new lesson planning tool for general and special educators called Lessons for All: The 5 -15-45 Tool. There are three options — one for teachers who have 5 minutes to plan a lesson, another for teachers who have 15 minutes, and the third for teachers with 45 minutes. Many teachers plan their instruction by using existing lesson plans. This tool will help teachers go from borrowed, bought, or mandated lessons to a more inclusive lesson for all. Starting with a lesson that comes from a curriculum package, online site, or colleague may save time, but also requires adjustment to meet the needs of students, Especially those with significant cognitive disabilities.

AEM logo

Joint Webinar Series from the AEM Center and Bookshare

Would you like to make reading more available to all readers, regardless of their learning preferences? Bookshare and the AEM Center have put together a three-part webinar series to help you get started. In part one of this three-part webinar series, you will get to know EPUB (aka "electronic publication"), a format for creating accessible, customizable, and adaptable publications and documents (from textbooks to student-created stories) that is quickly becoming the industry standard for digital publishing. This webinar addressed the basic questions related to EPUB: what it is, how it benefits learners, and where you can find high-quality EPUB titles so you can begin exploring the personalized reading experience they provide. With this information as a foundation, you and your team will be ready to delve into the use and creation of EPUB in more detail in the remaining two webinars of the series. The recordings for the first two webinars are available here and you can register for the third webinar here. If you have a chance, please review the introduction to Getting Started with EPUB on the AEM Center website for helpful background information.

National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI)

NCSI has released the 2020 version of the leadership turnover infographic that tracks turnover and tenure over time. Each change in leadership brings with it new priorities and these priorities can cause a significant shift in resources and opportunities. This document includes the data and implications for SEAs and TA providers. Visit the NCSI website to download this infographic and other helpful resources.

Pursuing Equity for Black Students in K-12 Education: Exploring the Intersection of Disability and Race

The National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI) is partnering with nationally respected Thought Leaders to offer a series on Pursuing Equity for Black Students in K-12 Education: Exploring the Intersection of Disability and Race. The series is aimed at state education agency staff, and all interested stakeholders are also welcome, including from other state agencies, parent and family organizations, school districts, TA and professional development, higher education, and others. A Foundational Session on How Systems Got Here will be held November 10, from 3:30–5:00 ET with free registration required to access the session.

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Guiding Questions for Youth Exiting from High School

This 15-page resource, jointly developed by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) and the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), is designed to help youth with disabilities take steps to transition from high school to adult life. It speaks directly to youth, moving through secondary transition considerations step by step.



Research You Can Use

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New Report Examines the 2016 Education, Employment, and Earnings Expectations of 2009 Ninth-Graders

A new Statistics in Brief, Education, Employment, and Earnings: Expectations of 2009 Ninth-Graders in 2016, examines the responses of cohort members in 2016 when most were typically 21 or 22 years old. They were asked about the highest level of education they expect to complete, the job they expect to have at age 30, the average earnings they expect to make at age 30, and the relative importance of various job characteristics when compared to salary.

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New Report Shows Revenues and Expenditures Per Pupil for Public School Districts Increased Between 2016–17 and 2017–18  

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: FY 18, provides information about revenues and expenditures in the nation’s public school districts for school year 2017–18. The report uses provisional data from the School District Finance Survey (F-33), which state education agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia submit each year.

Race and Ethnicity of Public School Teachers and Their Students

The National Center for Education Statistics released a new Data Point report today, entitled Race and Ethnicity of Public School Teachers and Their Students.


State Performance Plans/Annual Performance Reports (SPP/APR)

The Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019 and 2020–2025 SPP/APR packages are available on the IDEA website. Please check back frequently for additional resources related to SPP/APR reporting. Additional information on the SPP/APR information collection packages were presented on the October 15, 2020 OSEP Monthly TA Call (please access the website for the recording and presentation materials).


The FFY 2019 SPP/APR Part B Template and Part C Template are also available on the GRADS360o website.


IDEAs That Work

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MSIP has updated content on the IDEA website and the IDEAs That Work websites. 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 recordings and presentation materials from previous TA calls will be posted on the same page.


On August 31, 2020 RSA Commissioner Mark Schultz and OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg issued a letter on the importance of collaboration between special education and vocational rehabilitation related to secondary transition.


Differentiated Monitoring and Support

The first DMS Universal TA Call on Fiscal was conducted [depending on when you issue the newsletter, you may have to change these words to “will be presented”] on October 22, 2020. Please check the OSEP Monthly TA Call page for the recording and presentation materials.


OSEP plans to conduct DMS Universal TA Calls on the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:00pm (EDT). The DMS Universal TA Call may get rescheduled when there are conflicting holidays or other events. Please check the OSEP Monthly TA Call page for additional information on registration links and the schedule.



Many States submitted waiver requests of the Period of Availability for FFY 2018 funds. Approved Part B and Part C letters have been posted on our website.



The IDEA Part C Grant Application package was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on October 5, 2020 for approval. The package needed to be renewed since the current package expires on November 30, 2020. There were no substantive changes made to the application documents. Currently, the package is posted in the Federal Register where it is in the middle of the 30 day comment period. This comment period ends on November 4, 2020.


OSEP issued the second portion of the FFY 2020 IDEA Part B 611 grant awards on October 1, 2020


The FFY 2019 and FFY 2020 IDEA grant award letters for Part B and Part C have been posted on our website.


The OSEP 2020 New Discretionary Grant Awards can be found here.


Back-to-School Success Stories

During these unprecedented times of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has turned to virtual visits to inform, collaborate with, and support our constituents across the nation. Mark Schultz, Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) delegated the duties and responsibilities of Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Director of the Office of Special Education (OSEP), Laurie VanderPloeg, have been hosting virtual webinars discussing best practices to meet the needs of America’s schools.


Similarly, the U.S Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Frank Brogan, have also discussed the importance of returning to school. OESE has also hosted a series of webinars discussing best practices and successful strategies employed by schools all over the country to return America’s students to learning. You can find testimonials written and submitted by parents, teachers, school officials, and community members sharing their positive experience bringing students back to school here. Of particular interest to special education stakeholders is the teacher testimonial from Lori Yurkovich of the Spectrum Charter School in Monroeville, Pennsylvania that recently hosted OSERS’ senior officials for a virtual visit as well as the school official testimonial from Jody Miller of the Esther Clark Schools of Palo Alto and San Jose, California.


OSERS Wants to Hear from You!

COVID-19 is turning life as we know it upside down. The realities of this can be seen throughout the nation as we face many challenges while serving infants, toddlers, and students with disabilities and their families during the pandemic. Therefore, OSEP is eager to hear from you!


Whether you are a State or district employee, a school administrator, a teacher, or parent, OSERS wants to hear directly from you about your successes or those that you have witnessed during this challenging time. Let us take a moment to reflect on all the good that is happening right now.


If you have a story or note that you would like to share across the country, you can email them to josiah.willey@ed.gov. Please feel free to send photos that we may include in the publication. Please do not forget to describe what the photo(s) represent.


These success stories will be published in the November 2020 monthly publication so please do not delay if you have something to share. While we will not be able to respond to every message, we promise to carefully read and consider each one.



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 josiah.willey@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.