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

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OSEP Update

A Newsletter for OSEP Grantees and Interested Stakeholders

June 2021

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In This Issue:

From the Director

David Cantrell (960px)

Message from Acting OSEP Director, Dr. David Cantrell

Dear Stakeholders!

Summer is quickly approaching, and the 2020-21 school year will soon be behind us. Our Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) team, in collaboration with offices across the U.S. Department of Education (ED), has been working on COVID-19 Resources for Schools, and Families. Topics include the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, creating safe and healthy learning environments, addressing lost instructional time, and supporting educator and staff well-being, to name a few. Additionally, we have been working hard to identify key areas of priority based on what we are learning from you. As I listen to your comments and feedback, there are common needs, questions and topics that we are preparing to address in the coming months.

I am excited to announce that today, June 1st, the Department is kicking off the 8th annual ED Games Expo! On Wednesday, June 2nd, OSEP is participating along with the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services in a joint Showcase on Early Childhood and Special Education Technology. This showcase will highlight technology tools designed to address the needs of families and students from early childhood through adolescence, with considerations for children with disabilities. Presenters will include federal leadership, technology developers, educators, researchers, families, and students. We hope you can join us!

We have recently received a call to action in support of the Department’s Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practice Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse provides resources for communities, schools, educators, and families as we work together to continue to reopen our schools for in-person learning and support the needs of all students, particularly historically underserved students and those who have been impacted greatest by the pandemic. The Department is seeking additional resources and exemplars on returning to school for children with disabilities. If you have resources or exemplars to share, please send your resource or exemplar to the Bestpracticesclearinghouse@ed.gov.

Thank you for all that you do to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families. As Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” We know you are doing the best you can every day!

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


Other ED Updates

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Policy Letter

OSEP recently released the Letter to Tymeson (May 12, 2021) which addresses requirements related to the provision of physical education, including adapted physical education, to children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including personnel qualifications and licensure to provide specially designed physical education.

Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative: Save the Dates!

The Department, with support of the Comprehensive Center Network, launched the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative, a partnership between ED, the National Governors Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The purpose of the upcoming meetings is to support state and local teams, their community partners, and other education stakeholders as they plan and implement learning and enrichment activities during the summer and beyond. Each session will have a short opening plenary along with concurrent discussions offering practical tools, strategies, and opportunities for peer-sharing in the following areas: building school-community partnerships, effective use of fiscal resources, attracting/supporting staff for summer programs, evidence-based learning, and enrichment strategies, addressing a full range of student needs, and tailoring supports to specific populations.

Please save the dates for the following upcoming meetings held on
Thursdays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (EDT):
June 10th, June 24th, July 8th, July 22nd, and August 12th.


Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Programs and Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Programs

On May 26, 2021, the Department released a document to answer Frequently Asked Questions about how funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, including the American Rescue Plan ESSER (ARP ESSER) program, and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund may be used in response to the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on students in pre-K–12 education


Questions and Answers on Civil Rights and School Reopening in the COVID-19 Environment

The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued a Question and Answer document that provides answers to common questions about schools’ responsibilities under the civil rights laws that OCR enforces.


Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools

A new resource is available from OCR and the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division: Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools. In OCR’s Reading Room in the Race and National Origin Discrimination section, you’ll find this resource in English, Chinese-simplified, Chinese-traditional, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese, with additional translations expected later this month.


Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we also continue to recognize the increase in harassment and violence directed at Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals. We want to be sure students and families are aware of their rights in school settings and of how to access help if needed, including from OCR.


Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States

President Bident issued a memorandum early in his presidency on Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. In it, President Bident wrote: “The Federal Government should combat racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and should work to ensure that all members of AAPI communities — no matter their background, the language they speak, or their religious beliefs — are treated with dignity and equity.”


Upcoming CIID Webinar “What’s a Data Standard?

Join the Center for the Integration of IDEA Data (CIID) on June 29, 2021 at 3:00 pm eastern for a webinar entitled "What's a Data Standard?" Experts will provide a walk-through that will help SEAs understand how to use Common Education Data Standards to standardize the reporting and analytic capabilities of special education data, enhancing both collaboration and comparability. Presenters will specifically address IDEA, Part B data managers' and special education program staff's needs and identify fundamental changes that can transform states' capacity for data use.


Dose of Data

Dose of Data graphic

Did You Know?

Since 2012, the number of children ages 5 (in kindergarten) through 21 served under IDEA, Part B, has increased by more than half a million students (738,154) or more than 12%.

Source: OSEP Fast Facts: School aged children 5 (in kindergarten) through 21 Served under Part B, of the IDEA

OSEP Releases New Fast Facts on School Aged Children with Disabilities and a Hand In Hand Supplemental Tool to Accompany Fast Facts

OSEP is excited to release a new Fast Fact on School aged children 5 (in kindergarten) through 21 Served under Part B, Section 618 of the IDEA along with a new supplemental tool, Hand In Hand, which is intended to be used alongside the new OSEP Fast Fact.

The Hand In Hand supplemental tool presents critical questions for each display in the Fast Fact on School aged children 5 (in kindergarten) through 21 Served under Part B, Section 618 of the IDEA to allow parents and other stakeholders to engage with the materials. Throughout the Hand In Hand resource, look for hands highlighting further reading on the topics.



State Performance Plans / Annual Performance Reports

OSEP continues to busily review both the State Systemic Improvement Plan and clarifications to prepare for the Annual Performance Report (APR) Determinations. OSEP will conduct a OSEP Monthly Technical Assistance call on Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm EDT regarding APR Determinations.

Additionally, the GRADS 360o web-link will transition to https://osep.communities.ed.gov/#program starting on June 30th. The current URL will automatically redirect to the new web-link until the transition occurs, but please establish your new bookmarks now.


IDEA Part B/C Grants

OSEP appreciates states’ timely submissions of their 2021 IDEA Part B and C grant applications. OSEP is busily reviewing States’ grant application to prepare to issue grant awards on July 1, 2021.

Special Note: While applications were 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.

On the May 27, 2021 OSEP National TA Call, important updates were provided about the American Rescue Plan supplemental funds and how OSEP will disseminate revised allocation tables to Part B and Part C programs in the next few days. Please view the recording of the call to learn more information. OSEP will send an email to all States with additional guidance when the allocation tables become available.

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Differentiated Monitoring and Support

OSEP held a technical assistance call on May 27, 2021, as a part of the Differentiated Monitoring and Support (DMS) 2.0 Pivot activities. OSEP’s Monthly Technical Assistance call in May highlighted the format and organization for the DMS 2.0 protocol templates and the new Engage OSEP website.

OSEP has also been conducting monthly COVID-19 calls with states. The intent of these calls is to ensure states have the support they need during these uncertain times, to answer any questions they may have related to the pandemic, and to help us better understand the issues that are occurring as a result of COVID-19 at the state and local level. These discussions will inform the pandemic-related technical assistance (TA) and guidance we provide moving forward and share best practices.

OSEP plans to continue conducting DMS Technical Assistance Calls on the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:00 pm 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 Featured Resource


Key Points to Share about ED’s Handbooks for Reopening Schools

The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) developed infographic summaries of the Department’s two handbooks to help schools reopen safely. The infographics give OSEP-funded parent centers, families, educators, and others quick access to the valuable information within those volumes. While there is no substitute for reading the actual volumes in their entirety, these infographics provide a taste of the kind of detailed guidance found in the full publications.


Featured Resources

NDC Postsecondary Outcomes

Speech-to-Text Services

A new, redesigned speech-to-text services resource page from the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) will help you understand different types of Speech to Text Services (STTS), learn when and why certain STTS should be used, and where to find qualified service providers. https://www.nationaldeafcenter.org/STTS

You will find:

PROGRESS Center logo

The State of the States: National Trends in State Education Agency Guidance on Special Education

This state policy scan from the PROGRESS Center outlines findings from a national scan of 57 state education agency websites around key topics related to special education. The scan focuses on high priority topics related to special education including the Endrew F. decision, specially designed instruction, individualized education program (IEP) development, and IEP implementation efforts.

This website scan provided a clear picture of what is, and is not, currently communicated by state education agency websites around these key topics and also identified example resources provided by states on these topics.     


Increasing Cultural Competency Resource

For the past two years, the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) has partnered with a group of state deaf-blind projects to explore ways to identify and engage families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. As part of this work, the group has created a resource on the NCDB website called Increasing Cultural Competency to help all state projects explore, define, and implement a set of practices to improve services for these families.

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IRIS Center logo

Parent Tip Sheets: Distance Learning

After a year spent learning virtually, many students are feeling frustrated and resistant to distance learning. Created by the IRIS Center, these handy tip sheets for parents offer practical ideas and strategies to support their children and reduce some of these challenges and frustrations.

ECfam resources logo

Early Childhood Social Media Campaign

A new early childhood social media campaign kicks off this month. The campaign is a collaboration between OSEP-funded early childhood technical assistance centers and the Parent Technical Assistance Centers and is designed to highlight useful resources for families of young children. Look for information on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at #ECFamResources.


Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE): Lessons Learned to Support Transition Services and Programs

The PROMISE projects continue to research and disseminate how they improved education and employment outcomes of youth receiving SSI and their families. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, Volume 44 Issue 2, May 2021 is an open resource issue of articles written by the OSEP project office and their funded PROMISE projects. It includes 7 articles.


In Case You Missed It

U.S. Department of Education Releases "COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs"

On Friday, April 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs. The handbook provides additional strategies for safely reopening all of America's schools and promotes educational equity by addressing opportunity gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

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Project SALUTE

The National Center on Deaf-Blindness website is now home to numerous resources from Project SALUTE on tactile learning strategies. Project SALUTE (Successful Adaptations for Learning to Use Touch Effectively) was a project funded by the Department to the California State University, Northridge between 1999 and 2004. This collection of resources and practical information is still highly relevant today.

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NIMAC Seeks Skilled Braille Transcribers to Offer Training

The National Instructional Materials and Accessibility Center (NIMAC) has posted a Request for Services (RFS) to identify skilled transcriber-trainers interested in contracting with the NIMAC to provide modular training in the use of NIMAS files to produce braille textbooks. We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to support transcribers. The NIMAC seeks to contract with one or more trainers to develop and offer the training later this year. The training itself will be made available free of charge.

IConnect Logo


The I-Connect website has recently been restructured to highlight four different implementation models. The I-Connect mobile app has been available to the masses on the App Store and Google Play Store, this has given our team the opportunity to identify additional audiences within our userbase beyond those looking to scale I-Connect up at a district level. The four user-driven implementation models include District Wide Implementation, 1:1 Teacher-to-Student Classroom Implementation, using I-Connect at Home or Work, and using I-Connect Autonomously. The updated structure of the website is user friendly and provides each userbase with the resources they need to get started and continue using the I-Connect intervention, Portal, and Apps. Resources include downloadable PDF’s, training videos, and step-by-step instructions that direct each user through the I-Connect tech-based system and intervention.


COVID-19 Resources

Department of Education COVID-19 Resources

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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If you have questions or comments, please send them to josiah.willey@ed.gov.

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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