OSEP's January 2023 Update: Director's Message | ED Updates | Announcements | Featured Resources

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OSEP Update

    A Newsletter for OSEP Grantees and Interested Stakeholders

January 2023

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In This Issue:

From the Director

Valerie C. Williams

Message from OSEP Director,
Ms. Valerie C. Williams

Dear Friends!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, were able to get some rest and feel excited and ready for 2023. OSEP is working on a series of exciting activities for the new year. We have grant competitions posted, we’re examining how we can improve our State Performance Plans/Annual Performance Reports (SPPs/APRs) work and we’re planning an in-person OSEP Leadership Conference for this summer. This is a small snapshot of what’s to come. Look for updates on these and all other activities throughout the year.

For 2023, I resolve to continue listening, and learning more about you, our early interventionists, teachers, related service providers, parents and the seven million children with Individualized Family Services Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Program (IEPs). Moreover, your input will assist in making substantive systemic change, in service to our students and their families. Last month, I read an interesting op-ed article in Time Magazine’s website by Joshua Miele titled: I'm a Blind Scientist and Inventor. More Disabled Kids Should Have the Opportunities I Had. Dr. Miele has a Ph.D. in Psychoacoustics from UC Berkeley (shoutout to another Golden Bear) and has worked on some amazing projects including developing tactile maps, and creating youdescribe.org, a website that allows anyone to insert auditory descriptions into YouTube videos. Dr. Miele was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2021. MacArthur Fellowship program recipients receive “genius grants” where fellows receive funds to work on any projects of their choosing. Dr. Miele currently works at Amazon where he designs accessibility features for Amazon products, including Kindle and Fire.

Going back to Dr. Miele’s op-ed article in Time. Dr. Miele clearly shows how the lack of accessible materials created major obstacles for his education in the sciences, but he also notes the soft bigotry of low expectations as he states:

"Certainly, teachers need training, education, and additional resources to support accessible STEM education, but usually the main thing missing is their ability to see students with disabilities as successful future scientists and engineers. In short, the STEM education of most students with disabilities is a low priority because of ableism—biases and preconceptions that assume disabled students can’t succeed."

This year I encourage you to join me in my ongoing commitment to examine and change how infants, toddlers and children with disabilities receive the services entitled to them under IDEA. Whether it is making material more accessible or taking research-based practices from the IDEAs That Work Website, please take some time this year to address policies, procedures or practices that can be improved to increase outcomes for our nation’s children. To that end, in 2023 we will be working with States in ensuring that their definition of visual impairments is consistent with IDEA. We raised concerns with State definitions of visual impairments when we issued OSEP Memo 17-05 in May 2017 and it is time to ensure that students with visual impairment as defined by IDEA who require special education receive the services they need.

In solidarity,



ED Updates

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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: All OSEP grantees and anyone who is interested in this important topic is invited to attend. That means you!

Additional information will be shared in the upcoming weeks

Additional ED Updates   

Guidance for Common Prior Approval Requests under IDEA Parts B and C

We are pleased to release a new guidance document entitled Guidance for Common Prior Approval Requests under IDEA Parts B and C. This guidance provides a summary of the approval process and requirements for three common categories of direct costs for which State agencies must obtain prior approval before using Federal funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): 1) equipment expenditures; 2) participant support costs; and 3) revision of cost items within budget and program plans. This guidance updates prior guidance using the Uniform Guidance and brings together guidance on all three prior approval cost categories in one document. 

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Webinar Series

Join the “Building Stronger Connections” webinar series supporting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) Stronger Connections Grant Program. The first webinar was entitled “Building Stronger Connections: Engaging Families and Communities” and was held on November 30, 2022. Learn more about the session and view the webinar recording here. Learn more on the BSCA web page.

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Building Stronger Connections: Selecting High-Quality Evidenced-based Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools, Part II

This webinar, on Wednesday, January 18th, at 1:00pm EST, will continue to focus on the importance of selecting evidence-based strategies and supports to ensure safe, healthy, and supportive schools. This webinar will focus on the importance of strong implementation of multi-tiered systems of support and selecting trauma-informed and restorative strategies. It will also highlight how community violence affects school climate and student health and the importance of addressing trauma from community violence. To register, click here.

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Building Stronger Connections: Professional Development and Training for All School Staff on Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools

This webinar, on Thursday, January 26, at 1:00pm EST, will highlight the importance of preparing educators to meet the diverse needs of students. Many strategies to promote safe, supportive, and healthy schools require pre-service training and ongoing coaching. This panel will include strategies to consider in professional development opportunities, such as training all educators in emergency planning, restorative practices, inclusive and inviting classrooms, and asset-based alternatives to exclusionary discipline. To register, click here.

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Interactive map of the U.S.

Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse

The Safer Schools and Campuses Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) has recently updated with a new compendium of highlights and resources! Access the Interactive Map presents a state-by-state view of Clearinghouse resources in the Resource Library. This new feature allows users to see resources submitted by stakeholders in each state and national organization and partner. You can also find archived and upcoming events on the Clearinghouse’s Events Page. The Department welcomes lessons learned and best practices from the field for consideration for the Clearinghouse, including those with an educational equity focus. Send submissions via email to: Bestpracticesclearinghouse@ed.gov. Please find additional submission information in the Federal Register notice.

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Specialist conversing with a mother with her infant daughter

Working Together to Support All Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities

OSEP released Technical Assistance Implementation Guides that highlight a vision for serving all infants and toddlers with delays and disabilities and provide strategies and resources on implementing an equitable and comprehensive system that identifies, locates, and evaluates these infants and toddlers. These three new documents were introduced on a webinar, “Working Together to Support All Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities,” where speakers highlighted how federal and state agencies, local programs, and families can work together to support the growth and development of infants and toddlers with disabilities.


Technical Assistance (TA) Calls

OSEP’s Monthly Technical Assistance (TA) Calls are intended for OSEP grantees. The registration links and recorded content are available on the MSIP Program Page of the IDEAs That Works website.

The next Monthly TA Call will be on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 4:00pm EST on the 2023 Grant Application process.

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State Performance Plans / Annual Performance Reports (APRs)

We successfully opened the FY 2023 SPP/APR submission period through the APR Reporting Tool on the EDFacts Metadata and Process System (EMAPS). All SPP/APRs are due in the system by February 1, 2023. If you need any assistance with EMAPS, please contact EDFacts@ed.gov or your OSEP State Lead for support. Additional resources on the FY 2023 submission are located at:

We also posted the 2020 Indicator Analysis documents on the IDEA website.

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IDEA Part B/C Grants

We will present on the 2023 Grant Application process during the Thursday, January 26, 2023, OSEP Monthly TA Call.

The second portion of FFY 2022 IDEA Part B funds was disbursed on October 1, 2022. Grant Award Notifications (GANs) were sent to Part B programs receiving funds. GANs were reissued in November 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. Cohorts 1, 2, and 3 are now posted!

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.

News from Our Centers

IES LogoResearch 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 a report below on research and findings related to special education.

How Enhanced Core Reading Instruction (ECRI) Has Improved Reading Outcomes for Students with Reading Difficulties Through Tiered Supports summarizes multiple NCSER-supported studies on ECRI, including completed and ongoing work evaluating its efficacy and further developments to support special education teachers and students who need the most intensive supports.

NCSER is proud to announce a new grantee spotlight blog series. The series highlights the dedicated researchers funded by the Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education grant program. Readers will find informative conversations with researchers about the most significant challenges in special education research, the anticipated impact of their projects, and much more. Check out our blog in January for the full series

Screening for Reading — Explore the Elements

In this Explore the Elements video, the Lead for Literacy Center describes the purpose and features of effective literacy universal screening processes.

Lead for Literacy screening assessment
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New Materials on Deaf-Blindness Now Available

Looking for a quick way to explain what deaf-blindness is, how many children are affected, and how children who are deaf-blind learn and communicate? See the National Center on Deaf-Blindness's (NCDB) “An Overview of Deafblindness,” available now as a printable factsheet and online infographic.

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National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: The Collaborative (NTACT:C) — Technical Assistance Activities and Events

The NTACT:C is planning for its in-person 2023 Capacity Building Institute (CBI): Back Together to Build Together, May 16–18, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 2023 CBI will provide participants from state interagency transition teams access to content and panel discussions; engagement with colleagues and content resources; facilitated strategic planning time and much more. The Institute will feature youth voices and leadership throughout and reflect the Center's name, focusing on the necessary collaborations at each level of the system — from student-to-state — that are critical to support young people and their families through successful transitions into adult life. More information and registration.

On January 19, 2023, 2:00 pm EST / 1:00 pm CST / 12:00 pm MST / 11:00 am PST the NTACT:C will host a webinar, Transition Services & Contemporary Mental Health Related Issues and Approaches, sharing suggested practices and resources for transition professionals regarding contemporary mental health-related issues for individuals who have reached the developmental period associated with transition services. Tips and strategies for partnering with families, assisting students/clients to provide support for friends, and to care for themselves will be highlighted. Register.

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The Hexagon Tool

Concerned About the Fit of a New Initiative or Program and Your Team’s Capacity to Implement? The State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP) Center’s Hexagon Tool can help your team determine: (a) if the program is a good fit with the context, (b) the resources you will need to both implement and sustain, and (c) readiness of participants to implement.

The Hexagon Tool was downloaded 26,436 times in 2022, making it SISEP’s #1 resource on the Active Implementation Hub. It’s part of a larger process during the exploration stage.

Hexagon Tool

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.

Personnel Development Resources

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Free PD Certificates From IRIS in 2023

The IRIS Center’s PD Certificates for Educators will remain free throughout 2023. These certificates of completion are available for 38 of the center’s most popular online modules and cover topics like high-quality IEPs, culturally and linguistically diverse students, universal design for learning (UDL) and more. Educators nationwide accessed nearly 113,000 certificates last year and these were some of the most popular:

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Professions in Early Intervention

Early intervention supports families of infant and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities so that their infants and toddlers reach their full potential. ED's Early Childhood Personnel Center, in collaboration with the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, has created a video that explores professions in early intervention. A website with additional information on what it means to be an early interventionist is also available. Encourage those you know to consider a career in early intervention!

In Case You Missed It

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Newest IRIS Modules

The IRIS Center has released three self-paced, online modules for use in educator preparation courses and school or district PD activities.

  1. Inclusion of Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities: Supports in the General Education Classroom, developed in collaboration with the TIES Center, is designed for general educators. This module explains fundamental concepts like core values and principles of inclusion, access to the general education curriculum, alternate achievement standards, educational goals, services, and supports, and more.
  2. Addressing Challenging Behaviors (Part 1, Elementary): Understanding the Acting-Out Cycle discusses challenging behavior in terms of the seven phases of the acting-out cycle and offers strategies and tips for responding to students in each phase.
  3. Addressing Challenging Behaviors (Part 2, Elementary): Behavioral Strategies describes low-intensity strategies that can increase initial compliance to teacher requests as well as others that can be implemented to prevent or decrease challenging behaviors. Key strategies include: behavior-specific praise, pre-correction, active supervision, high-probability requests, and opportunities to respond.

And for those of you in middle- and high school settings? Not to worry—secondary versions of these modules are coming soon!

All three modules include classroom video examples, free PD Certificates of Completion, Kahoot games, and more.

IRIS Professional Development
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NTACT:C Webinars and Resources

The NTACT:C hosted a discussion around the importance of building state and local collaboration among Career and Technical Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Special Education partners, Creating Partnerships for Access and Equity for Students with Disabilities in CTE. To access the recording of the webinar, please visit: Creating Partnerships for Access and Equity for Students with Disabilities in CTE.

Additionally, the NTACT:C recently hosted a webinar, Opportunities for Collaboration: Vocational Rehabilitation and WIOA Youth Programs, developed and presented by RSA and ETA, in partnership with NTACT:C, on the ways the public Vocational Rehabilitation and the WIOA Youth Programs can work together to support students and youth with disabilities as they transition to postsecondary education and/or employment. To access the recording of the webinar, please visit: Opportunities for Collaboration: Vocational Rehabilitation and WIOA Youth Programs.

NTACT:C hosts Presenter Guides* to support local practitioners in their own learning or as they support the learning of others in their school or district. Each presenter guide includes a video presentation, as well as a slide deck and handouts to be used locally.

For most NTACT:C resources, you’ll need to quickly create a free account on the website to view or download the resource. This feature allows the Center to customize the user’s experience with www.transitionta.org.

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.

Get to Know Us Better

Connect with OSEP Online

Want to connect with OSEP? We have many opportunities for you!

Newsletters: Subscribe to the OSEP Update, OSERS Newsletters, Early learning Newsletter and other ED newsletters, journals and updates

Social Media: Find information on the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ social media accounts, including Twitter, the OSERS Blog, and YouTube

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Learn More about OSEP

The mission of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is to lead the nation's efforts to improve outcomes for children with disabilities, birth through 21, and their families, ensuring access to fair, equitable, and high-quality education and services. Our vision is for a world in which individuals with disabilities have unlimited opportunities to learn and to lead purposeful and fulfilling lives.

Visit these sites to learn more about OSEP, State Educational Agencies, and OSEP funded Technical Assistance Centers.

OSEP Home Page: Find the OSEP landing page on the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) website

Federal and State Contacts: Find general overview information about federal and state contacts, including links to state special education departments and state early intervention and early childhood special education programs

IDEA by State: Find your state education agency’s contact information that’s on file with ED and OSEP’s contacts for your state

Resource Centers: Learn about the types of centers funded by ED and OSEP that are relevant to the IDEA

OSEP IDEAs That Work: Find federal resources for stakeholders and grantees

If you have questions or comments, please send them to Dr. Josiah Willey at 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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