OSEP's December 2022 Update: Director's Message | ED Updates | Announcements | Featured Resources

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OSEP Update

    A Newsletter for OSEP Grantees and Interested Stakeholders

Wishing you a joyous Holiday Season and a most
prosperous and healthy New Year!

Happy Holidays

December 2022

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In This Issue:

From the Director

Valerie C. Williams

Message from OSEP Director,
Ms. Valerie C. Williams

Dear Friends!

I am so grateful to have spent the past year getting to know you— either through OSEP’s newsletter, Microsoft Team meetings, or in person. You have shared individual success stories and challenges that remain in ensuring that our nation’s seven million children with disabilities receive the free appropriate public education and early intervention services they deserve and are entitled to under IDEA. 

As we have just celebrated the 47th anniversary of IDEA, I was thinking about the 15 states/territories I visited between April and November. The innovation, creativity, passion, and dedication to our students is readily apparent. Many issues still exist, but they are not insurmountable, nor are they bigger than our desire and mandate to educate and provide FAPE to students with disabilities. We can do hard things, but only if we collaborate with our stakeholders and general education partners; and most importantly if we engage families in a meaningful way.

Every day, each of us are making hard decisions that are deeply impactful on our lives and those of the children and families we serve. For those of you who provide early intervention and special education services, I’m thankful for the work you do. I also recognize that over the past three years there have been more hard days than easy ones. But we will continue to take the lessons learned during the pandemic and move forward; we can’t make progress if we’re looking in the rearview mirror.

Speaking of doing hard things, I read an interesting Washington Post Article last month that highlighted how Alabama and West Virginia have become national leaders in graduating students from high school. It highlights a great blueprint for success including:

  • Making graduation a statewide priority,
  • Striving for small gradual increases over time,
  • Creating an early warning system in earlier grades, and Using data to drive decisions

Some of the quotes from the article were from Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University where he notes that the activities were “Just lots of problem-solving and small efforts that help students stay on track.” What fantastic words to live by in challenging times. These interventions have also helped students with disabilities Nationally, graduation data for children with disabilities is also going in the right direction, and perhaps we can increase graduation rates even more by applying targeted interventions. Most importantly, let’s start using data to dig deeper. As graduation rates for students with disabilities trend upward, is that the case for all our students? If not, how can we have higher expectations and drive greater improvements for all? That is the question I leave you to ponder as the year comes to a close. 

Please have a safe and restful holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you in 2023.

In solidarity,


ED Updates

Expect Engage Empower Graphic

Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All!

In support of Secretary Cardona’s mission to improve equity across our nation’s schools, Director Williams is pleased to announce a new initiative to improve postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities — Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All

This initiative will challenge the field to join OSEP to raise expectations, engage families earlier, and empower all who support transition services to measurably and significantly improve postsecondary outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and their families. Every family that has an infant, child, or youth identified with a disability must be exposed to high expectations from day one. In order for improvement to occur three things must happen:

  1. the education and vocational rehabilitation systems must work together,
  2. critical discussions about the future and transition planning process must start sooner, and
  3. ALL students with disabilities should have the opportunity to learn about all post-secondary opportunities and make the best choice for themselves.

Our systems should be prepared to make their vision a reality by providing information about any needed support services, and proactively address needs.

Save the Date Event Details

  • When: TBD, Winter 2023
  • Where: Virtual
  • Who: While the initiative is grounded in secondary transition, the planning can begin at a very young age. Therefore, all OSEP grantees from the IDEA Part B and C communities are invited and encouraged to attend.

Additional information will be shared in the upcoming weeks

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Policy Updates

OSEP’s Nov. 16, 2022 Letter to Flanigan clarifies that any student found eligible under IDEA who is enrolled by their parent in a private elementary or secondary school, whether or not they have a current or prior individualized education program or services plan, must be counted when calculating the proportionate share of IDEA Part B funds that a LEA is required to spend on the provision of equitable services to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities enrolled in private schools in the LEA. In addition, the letter addresses whether it is consistent with IDEA for the LEA to require a private school to enter a memorandum of understanding as a condition of the LEA providing equitable services to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities attending the private school.

OSEP’s Nov. 10, 2022 Letter to State Directors of Special Education provides guidance and resources and describes several important principles that States, school districts, school staff, parents, families, and others may find helpful in ensuring that highly mobile children with disabilities receive required special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs in a timely manner.

OSEP’s Nov. 1, 2022 Letter to Sharpless clarifies that IDEA does not provide specific requirements regarding the manner in which a request for an initial evaluation of a child suspected of having a disability must be made. In the absence of specific provisions, States may develop their own procedures, provided they are not inconsistent with, and do not substantially limit, a parent’s right to request an initial evaluation under IDEA. OSEP emphasized that because the responsibility for meeting IDEA’s child find requirements rests with States and LEAs — not with parents — the evaluation referral process must support, and not undermine, the effectiveness of the child find process.

Updates from Our Partners 

Office of Head Start (OHS) Webcast: Improving Health Coverage for the ECE Workforce

Join OHS on Dec. 7 at 3 p.m., EST for a Workface Wednesday webinar exploring a range of innovative strategies, tools, and resources to improve health insurance coverage for the early care and education (ECE) workforce. Federal staff show how to sign up for health insurance via a train-the-trainer demonstration. Also, learn how to engage partners in joining the CMS Week of Action for Early Childhood Educators. For more information about registration, access, or alternate phone lines, contact webcasts@hsicc.org. Register here.

Discussion with EIR Grantees Addressing Learning Gaps and Social and Emotional Needs After COVID Webinar

During this webinar, on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 1:00 p.m., EST, the Department’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grantee panelists will describe how implementing their programs post-COVID is different from pre-COVID, how COVID has affected high-needs students academically and developmentally, and how the projects hope to impact equity. In FY 2021, the Department’s EIR program issued competitive preference priorities to address the impact of Covid and promote equity in Pre-K–12 education. Nearly a dozen projects were funded, with each using a different approach and serving different populations and ages. Join us for a conversation, facilitated by Jenni Liveoak, about how a few of these grantees are responding to the needs of teachers and students post-Covid. Participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences, share resources, and ask questions. Register here.

Making a Difference for American Indian and Alaska Native Students: Innovations and Wise Practices: Indigenous Educator Pathways

Indigenous Educator Pathways is the first installment of a three-part series, Making a Difference for American Indian and Alaska Native Students: Innovations and Wise Practices. On Dec. 14, 2022, 09:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., PST / 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., EST, we’ll explore systemic efforts and innovations that prepare, recruit, and sustain American Indian and Alaska Native educators. The series is jointly programmed by multiple federally funded centers, including:

  • The Region 11, Region 13, Region 15, Region 16, and Region 17 Comprehensive Centers
  • Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) West, Southwest, Northwest, and Central
  • Western Educational Equity Assistance Center (WEEAC)


Technical Assistance (TA) Calls

December 8, 2022 at 4:00–5:00 p.m., EST

Please join us for OSEP’s December National TA Call on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, at 4:00 p.m., EST.

During the December National TA call will OSEP staff will discuss the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2021 State Performance Plan (SPP) / Annual Performance Report (APR), including:

  1. Provide an overview of the changes within the FFY 2021 SPP/APR package;
  2. Provide updates/reminders on the SPP/APR reporting platform; and
  3. Offer general SPP/APR related reminders.

We look forward to you joining us on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

When: Dec. 8, 2022 04:00 p.m., EST (US and Canada)

Topic: OSEP December National TA Call.

Register in advance for this webinar: https://air-org.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_YChn6z0RQFOHMJM2MFHxDQ. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

(All National TA calls are recorded and typically posted within a week on the OSEP National TA Calls and Related Resources webpage) 

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Notice for Public Comment

We have posted the two notices in the Federal Register for the following collections:

  1. 1820-0030: Annual State Application Under Part B of the IDEA
    (closes for comments on 12/12/2022)
  2. 1820-0600: State & LEA Record & Reporting Requirements Under IDEA Part B
    (closes for comments on 12/18/2022)

There are no substantive changes to either package. For the Part B grant application package, the  edit made was to remove duplicative content. Please use the respective links to post comments for consideration on either collection. We appreciate your feedback on this process.

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State Performance Plans / Annual Performance Reports (APRs)

We have posted the new FY 2023 SPP/APR submission documents (e.g., memo, instructions, etc.) on the IDEA website. We will also be posting the 2020 Indicator Analysis documents prior to the next OSEP Monthly TA Call on the IDEA website. The next OSEP Monthly TA Call on the SPP/APR submission will be on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

FFY 2020 Indicator Analyses

In collaboration with OSEP-funded TA Centers, OSEP annually publishes an analysis consisting of an explanation of the reported federal fiscal year indicator measures, data sources for reporting, any variations in State approaches to the reported federal fiscal year’s (FFY) data collection or measurement, review of six-year trends (reported federal fiscal year and 5 years prior data) in means and ranges, patterns and trends from prior year’s data in comparison to the reported federal fiscal year’s data (including progress and slippage), other relevant indicator data comparisons, and a brief conclusions/summary of the indicator report. The Indicator Analysis chapters are available via the following links:

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IDEA Part B/C Grants

The second portion of FFY 2022 IDEA Part B funds was disbursed on Oct. 1, 2022. Grant Award Notifications (GANs) were sent to Part B programs receiving funds. GANs were reissued in Nov. 2023 with language referencing the Build America, Buy America Act (Pub. L. 117-58). This program requires that grantees and their subrecipients (subgrantees) and contractors use materials manufactured in the United States when using their grant funds for infrastructure projects or activities (e.g., construction, remodeling, and broadband infrastructure). 

Grantees may request waivers to these requirements by submitting a Build America, Buy America Act Waiver Request Form. For more information, including a link to the Waiver Request Form, see the Department’s Build America Buy America Waiver website.

DMS 2.0

Differentiated Monitoring and Support (DMS)

The next OSEP Technical Assistance (TA) Calls on DMS will be in February 2023.   

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

Dose of Data: Did You Know

Dose of Data Graphic

Percent of the Students with Disabilities, Ages 14–21, Who Exited School by Graduating with a Regular High School Diploma in the U.S., Outlying Areas, and Freely Associated States: 2011–12 vs 2019–20.

Data Sources:

U.S. Department of Education, EDFacts Data Warehouse (EDW): “IDEA Part B Exiting Collection," 2011–12 & 2019–20. Data retrieved from: https://data.ed.gov/dataset/idea-section-618-state-part-b-exiting/resources.

To explore this visualization further, please go to: https://infogram.com/1pg3myv5jlrxydi9pvyxp71nwrtwjre9qnx?live

News from Our Centers

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New Accessible IDEA Data Center

The Office of Special Education Programs is proud to announce the award of the Rhonda Weiss Center for Accessible IDEA Data (Weiss Center) to AEM Corp. This center commemorates Rhonda Weiss, a long-time U.S. Department of Education attorney and disability advocate with a visual impairment of her own, who passed in October 2021.

The Weiss Center, through a tiered technical assistance (TA) approach, will improve state capacity under Part B and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to collect, report, analyze, and use accurate IDEA data in formats that provide equitable access and visualizations to persons with disabilities, including, but not limited to, individuals with blindness, visual impairments, motor impairments, and intellectual disabilities. This improved capacity within and across states will further be supported by the Weiss Center’s design and development of an open-source, software solution to allow states to report and publish data products which increase equitable access and transparency to IDEA data.


Integrating Intensive Intervention into Personnel Preparation for Teachers or Providers 

To support higher education faculty integrate the principles of intensive intervention within undergraduate and graduate-level programs for aspiring and current teachers or providers, the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) has developed course content focused on explicit instruction, intensive intervention in mathematics, intensive intervention in reading, and behavior support intensive intervention that includes video lessons, presentation materials, and workbooks with activities as well as online modules that can be used in a flipped classroom model or to supplement learning about intensive intervention.

NCII also has developed resources spotlighting how faculty can integrate the wealth of resources on the NCII website into their courses through a faculty guide on strengthening intensive intervention preparation, a recent webinar highlighting how three faculty members have embedded NCII content into their courses, and a number of “voices from the field” pieces on embedding the course content, NCII Tools Charts, and intensive intervention principles within preparation programs for teachers or providers (e.g., school psychologists, speech-language therapists, early intervention).

To learn more, explore curated resources by visiting the Higher Education Faculty page on the NCII website.

NCII Resource Image
IES Logo

Research Highlights from the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)

The Institute for Education Science’s NCSER funds research designed to expand knowledge and understanding of learners with and at risk for disabilities, from infancy through postsecondary settings. We share reports below on issues, findings, and events related to special education.

Comparing College-Based to Conventional Transition Approaches for Improving Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October) through an interview with Drs. Grigal and Papay on their research exploring the college-based approach for supporting students with disabilities in successful post-secondary outcomes.

From the NCSER Commissioner: Letter to the Field announces Commissioner Joan McLaughlin’s upcoming retirement, discusses NCSER’s accomplishments, and praises the work of early intervention and special education researchers.

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Progress Center Logo

New PROGRESS Center Training Materials to Support the Planning, Delivery, and Intensification of Instruction

The PROGRESS Center has released three courses that highlight high-leverage, evidence-based practices shown to support implementation of high-quality instructional programming for students with and at risk for disabilities, regardless of their identified disability category or grade span. The courses follow a three-phase cycle of planning for instruction, delivery of instruction and, intensification of instruction that can be used when planning, implementing, and reviewing individual, small group, and whole-group instruction, including specially designed instruction. The courses include a self-paced module, related resources, and a certificate of completion. Additional courses aligned with the instructional practice briefs will be released over the next year.

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Registration Now Open: STEMIEFest 2022 on Dec. 8, from 12–4 p.m., EST

Don’t forget to join us at STEMIEFest! Organized by ED-funded STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE), STEMIEFest is a gathering of families, early childhood and early childhood special education professionals, faculty, and many more, to engage in innovative STEM learning experiences as well as explore and develop a model to support young children with and without disabilities in early STEM learning. The program this year includes an opening keynote by Dr. Renee Horton, NASA Quality Engineer, a closing keynote by Carmen Bogan, author of an award-winning children’s book, “Where’s Rodney?”, and targeted concurrent sessions by STEMIE staff, museum, and family partners.

Learn more and register.

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Fidelity and Capacity, Two Great Measures that Go Great Together

Fidelity and capacity are two great measures that go great together and must be understood and evaluated collectively over time if implementation teams want to support, drive, and celebrate sustained impact.

Read Blog Post

Things that go together - Nutella and peanut butter

In Case You Missed It


Implementing Data-Based Individualization for English Learners

NCII released its latest brief in December: Implementing Data-Based Individualization (DBI) for English Learners (ELs)To support ELs with intensive intervention needs, it is important to

  1. deliver instruction that represents culturally and linguistically sustaining best practices, and
  2. distinguish the needs and assets of learners to improve progress.

This brief illustrates considerations for implementing data-based individualization with ELs that accounts for their unique academic, social, behavioral, linguistic, and cultural experiences, assets, and needs.

NCII Resource 2

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 TA 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 Department Education, nor should their inclusion be considered an endorsement of any private organization.


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