OSEP's April 2021 Update: Director's Message| ED Updates | Dose of Data | Featured Resources

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OSEP Update

A Newsletter for OSEP Grantees and Interested Stakeholders

April 2021

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In This Issue:

From the Director

David Cantrell (960px)

Message from Acting OSEP Director, Dr. David Cantrell

Hello Stakeholders! As the Acting OSEP Director I continue to lead our team as we work to support children with disabilities (CWD) safely returning to school as quickly as possible. On March 2, 2021, Dr. Cardona was sworn in as Secretary of Education and he quickly began leading the effort to get children back in classrooms.

We are actively responding to President Biden’s Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Programs. On February 12, the Department released the “U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools”. Development of Volume 2 is currently underway with OSEP leading development of content supporting students behavioral, social/emotional, and mental health needs.

We are collaborating with other Departments to include, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Institute for Educational Sciences, and the Office of Educational Technology, to ensure that infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families are included and considered as guidance is developed. In addition, we continue to meet with External Stakeholders and coordinate with our Technical Assistance Centers, and actively seek feedback to respond to the most pressing needs in the field.

On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, The Department hosted a Summit on the National Safe School Reopening. Participants in the summit included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady of the United States, Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, and students, educators, and representatives from school districts across the country. The summit was designed to convene district leaders, educators, and students, to share best practices and provide technical assistance to those navigating the return to in-person learning across the country.

This month we’re looking forward to a few exciting events from our TA Centers and Stakeholders.

  • On April 12, 2021, The PROGRESS Center will host a webinar: Promoting Progress for Students with Disabilities.
  • Lead for Literacy will present the sixth and seventh sessions in the NAESP-Lead for Literacy Center series.
  • The National Center on Intensive Intervention and the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions will host a joint webinar on Intensive Intervention: Supporting Secondary Students with Intensive Behavior Needs.
  • The NDC will continue to host quarterly regional meetings for state leaders in vocational rehabilitation and education.

Keep reading below for additional information!! Thank you for all that you do to support our infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families! It’s your dedication and resiliency that makes our work possible.

David Cantrell, Ph.D.
Acting Director
Office of Special Education Programs


Updates From OSEP

AEM Center Logo

Statutory Changes Ease Provision of Accessible Materials for Students with Disabilities

As of February 12, 2021, a student with a reading or perceptual disability, "who is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability," can now be certified as an eligible person by the same range of professionals as students who are blind, low vision, or have physical impairments. The revised list of certifiers includes several new school-based titles, including educators, school psychologists, and librarians. Read NIMAS Terms Clarified Post Marrakesh.


Other ED Updates

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EquiLearn Virtual Roundtable: Antiracism, Universal Design for Learning, and the Woope Sakowin (Seven Laws)

On Thursday, April 8th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm ET, join the Region III Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP Center) as they highlight how the Woope Sakowin (Seven Laws), universal virtues of the Lakota people and the goals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be used to honor and engage every learner in a safe, adaptable, and creative learning environment. This webinar meets the needs of students and educators increasing awareness of the varying needs and supports for children with disabilities from diverse backgrounds. To register for this webinar click here.

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Addressing Trauma in Educational Settings, Module 3: School Systems, Policies, and Procedures to Support Students Experiencing Trauma

On Tuesday, March 30th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm ET Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia will host a webinar for school leaders to discuss how they can implement schoolwide changes in systems, policies, and procedures to support students experiencing trauma. To register for this webinar, click here.

English Learners in Secondary Schools: Trajectories, Transition Points, and Promising Practices

On Wednesday, April 21st at 3:30pm ET the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) will host a webinar in which they will discuss what research has shown about the academic trajectories of English Learners (EL) at the secondary level, including the trajectories of newcomers, students who have been labeled long-term ELs, ELs with disabilities, and former ELs. To register for this webinar, click here.


OELA logo

Dose of Data

Dose of Data graphic

Did You Know?

Based on four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) data, 68.2% of students with disabilities graduated with a regular high school diploma in the US in SY 2018–19 as compared to 67.1% of students with disabilities in SY 2017–18.


  • National Center for Education Statistics. Common Core of Data. Data Tables. Table 1. Public high school 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR), by race/ethnicity and selected demographic characteristics for the United States, the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico: School year 2017–18.
  • National Center for Education Statistics. Common Core of Data. Data Tables. Table 1. Public high school 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR), by race/ethnicity and selected demographic characteristics for the United States, the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico: School year 2018–19.

SY 2018-19 Adjust Cohort Graduation Rate Data Files Are Now Available

The SY 2018–19 Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate data files are now publicly available and accessible from the EDFacts Initiative Site or the NCES Website. These releases include graduation rates for students with disabilities at the national, state education agency, local education agency and school levels.



State Performance Plans / Annual Performance Reports

OSEP appreciates States’ timely submission of their State Systemic Improvement Plans on April 1, 2021. The SPP/APR clarification period for Part C will be from April 13–27, 2021, and for Part B will be from April 15–29, 2021.


IDEA Part B/C Grants

The public participation period has commenced for both IDEA Part B and C programs and OSEP is reviewing State’s websites to verify that information.

We appreciate your patience as you wait for our release of the FFY 2021 allocation tables. The release of these documents has been impacted by the appropriation of additional funds for IDEA Part B, Section 619, and Part C programs from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021. Given the timing of the legislation and the amounts appropriated under the ARP, the Department is working to ensure that we have guidance materials available to minimize confusion in the field about these funds and how they relate to the FFY 2021 allocation. As soon as we are ready to release the funding information, we will notify you. Guidance documents for the ARP funds will be housed on the new American Rescue Plan page on our website.

If any State cannot respond “yes” and plans to insert a “no” response to any item in Section II B and II C of their IDEA grant application, they should contact their OSEP State Lead immediately.

OSEP presented on the FFY 2021 IDEA Part B and Part C Grant Application Packages on the January OSEP Monthly TA Call. The FFY 2021 IDEA Grant Application documents are available on the IDEA Website.

As a reminder, the application submission due dates are:

  • Part C on May 7, 2021
  • Part B on May 21, 2021

Special Note: Applications must be submitted electronically by the May due dates. Hard copy applications are due by August 2, 2021. Review the “Procedures for Receiving a FFY 2021 Grant Award” within the FFY 2021 IDEA Part B and Part C Grant Application Packages for submission instructions.

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Differentiated Monitoring and Support

OSEP held a technical assistance call on March 11, 2021, as a part of the DMS 2.0 Pivot activities. The call focused on answering questions about service provision under Part B and Part C of IDEA during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please access the recording and webinar materials for more information on this announcement.

OSEP plans to continue conducting DMS Technical Assistance (TA) Calls on the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:00 p.m. ET. Please check the OSEP Monthly TA Call page for additional information to register and access the schedule.

To access resources related to monitoring activities (e.g., DMS 2.0, DMS Reports, and older monitoring reports, etc.), please refer to the DMS section on our IDEA website.


This Month’s Recommended Resource

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Locating and Reengaging Specific Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative (NTACT:C) staff hosted a "huddle" with state education agency representatives on March 24th for states to share ongoing challenges and effective and promising strategies implemented over the past 12 months for locating “lost” students; engaging students in virtual spaces, and reducing potential school dropout (among vulnerable populations).

Additionally, NTACT:C, is engaging with State interagency partners in a series of upcoming activities, including an April 27 “Watch Party”, Unpacking Assumptions: Equitable Approaches to Re-engaging Students and Youth in Education and Vocational Rehabilitation Services (recorded content, followed by interactive discussion) focused on engaging and reengaging students with disabilities, addressing the underlying assumptions and implicit biases in our practices and systems which may have negative implications for specific groups of students. Register here.

This work will focus on the intersection of disability and poverty and specific marginalized populations.

For more information, please visit the new landing page for the NTACT:C. As this website continues to be developed, you may also visit the WINTAC and NTACT sites for any additional information.


Featured Resources

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State Leaders Share Ways to Increase Access to Services for Deaf Youth

As part of their increased focus on virtual engagement, the National Deaf Center (NDC) hosts quarterly regional meetings for state leaders in vocational rehabilitation and education. The first two quarterly meetings of winter 2021 occurred in February, with 27 leaders representing the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions. These meetings built on resources shared during the national meeting in January that focused on ways to increase access to services using data-driven strategies. In these regional meetings, state leaders shared updates about programs and strategies they are using to support the success of deaf people.

Best Practices in Access: Hiring Qualified Interpreters

Interpreters play an important role in facilitating effective communication for deaf and hard of hearing people. Interpreters are frequently used in education, from kindergarten through college, graduate or trade school, and the workplace. A qualified interpreter with the right combination of qualifications and professional experience is better able to provide effective communication.

Best Practices in Access: Video Remote Interpreting

Video remote interpreting (VRI) is a fee-based service that delivers interpreting services, often on demand, through a web-based platform on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

VRI can be used effectively to:

  • fulfill last-minute, urgent requests for an interpreter;
  • offer interpreting in the absence of in-person interpreters, especially in rural areas;
  • provide interpreters with specific skill sets (e.g., deaf interpreters, trilingual    interpreters); or
  • meet a deaf person’s communication preferences
PROGRESS Center logo

PROGRESS Webinar: Promoting Progress for Students with Disabilities: Using the PLAAFP as the Foundation

On April 12, 2021 at 3:00 pm ET, Shaylyn Quinn and Dr. David Bateman from the Promoting Progress for Students With Disabilities Center (PROGRESS Center) and Dr. Shannon Harmon, a school psychologist at Chambersburg Area School District will host a webinar that will review the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s definition of present level of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP) statements and share tips for developing effective PLAAFP statements that provide a foundation for the IEP and promote progress for students with disabilities. This webinar is intended for educators and educational leaders who are new to developing PLAAFP statements or as a review for veteran educators.

Lead for Literacy Logo

Leading for Literacy:

Promoting Meaning-Level Literacy Skills In Early Elementary School

Join the Lead for Literacy Center’s Jess Surles, M.Ed., Ursula Hill, Ed.D., Jennifer Pierce, Ph.D., and Lauren Artzi, Ph.D. as they present the sixth and seventh sessions in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) NAESP-Lead for Literacy Center series. These sessions will respectively focus on evidence-based reading instruction in traditional and virtual learning environments, and professional development for effective schoolwide reading models. Presenters will discuss key considerations for using evidence-based practices to support students with or at risk for reading disabilities.

Leading for Literacy Framework Navigator

The Lead for Literacy Center’s Framework Navigator is a new tool that can be used formatively with school teams to shed light on areas that are strongly implemented and growth areas that school teams might work toward. This tool may be particularly helpful for implementing evidence-based practices for students with disabilities.

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Webinar: Intensive Intervention: Supporting Secondary Students with Intensive Behavior Needs

The National Center on Intensive Intervention and the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports have partnered to present a webinar series focused on providing educators with tools to support secondary students during virtual learning and the return to in-person learning. This series is intended for educators at the state and local level who work with students with intensive behavioral needs in secondary school settings. Register for the next webinar.

National Center on Improving Literacy Logo

New Resources from the National Center on Improving Literacy

The National Center on Improving Literacy released two new resources this month.

The first is a video, Avoid a Lemon: Looking Under the Hood. It provides information that parents and schools can use to spot questionable or ineffective practices.

The second, Student Language and Literacy Profile, was co-developed by NCIL and PEATC. The profile can be used by parents to introduce their child to teachers, related services providers, administrators and others.


In Case You Missed It

National Center on Deaf-Blindness icon

Teachers of Children with Deaf Blindness

The National Center on Deaf-Blindness is highlighting teachers who work with children who are deaf-blind on its website. Visit the NCDB Teacher Profiles page to learn how teachers from a variety of backgrounds became interested in deaf-blindness, the type of training they have received, and their thoughts about and hopes for deaf-blind education.

Grading My Child with Significant Cognitive Disabilities in an Inclusive Classroom

Videos for Parents of Children with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Two OSEP funded centers, TIES Center and the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO), recently published four videos for parents of children with significant cognitive disabilities on supporting the learning of reading and math at home:

Educators and other audiences will also find the videos useful as they work with parents and families. These videos help families learn ways to support the learning of their children with significant cognitive disabilities at home and have conversations with teachers to link home-schools supports.

Outside Jobs among US Public School Teachers

New Data Point: U.S. Public School Teacher Income from Outside Jobs

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics released a new Data Point, Outside Jobs Among U.S. Public School Teachers, which describes U.S. public school teacher income from jobs outside the school system for the 2017–18 school year, by main teaching assignment.

Common Core of Data Image

Data Release: 2018-19 National and State-level High School Graduation Rates

National and state-level high school Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates (ACGR) for the 2018-19 school year were recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The national ACGR for all students was 85.8 percent, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from 2017–18.

NTACT Webinar

The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative (NTACT:C) provided a Webinar: Toward a Conception of Culturally Responsive Practices in Transition Planning on November 23, 2020, which was presented by Bettie Ray Butler (NTACT:C) and Edwin Achola (California State University Long Beach).


NTACT webinar announcement

COVID-19 Resources

Department of Education

Check the Department's COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel web page for information and resources, including information and resources from other federal agencies.

OSEP’s IDEA Covid-19 Questions and Answers and Resources.


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.



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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.


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