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

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OSEP Update

    A Newsletter for OSEP Grantees and Interested Stakeholders

March 2023

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In This Issue:

From the Director

Valerie C. Williams

Message from OSEP Director,
Ms. Valerie C. Williams

Dear Friends!

Our newsletter this month is starting with a somber note. Late last week we learned about the passing of Judy Heumann, our former Assistant Secretary and champion for disability rights.  We saw Judy last August as she was our keynote speaker for our employee awards recognition ceremony. Both President Biden and Secretary Cardona have publicly acknowledged her passing.  I’m dedicating my monthly message to Judy’s amazing life—I think you’ll see why.  

I have been reflecting on some of the terms we use regularly and realized how often we take for granted that we share a common definition for them. We know these words and use them daily, yet when we have a dialogue to really examine what we mean by these terms, it’s clear that some of our absolutes become less certain. Let me provide some examples. 

Inclusion and Inclusive. Last month, I heard it said that inclusion was defined by IDEA. Yet, if you go to our website and search the text of IDEA for the terms “inclusion” and “inclusive,” you’ll find that IDEA does not use these terms to talk about practices to educate students with disabilities alongside their nondisabled peers. Instead, IDEA consistently uses the terms when talking about age ranges of children. For example, in relation to general eligibility for FAPE, IDEA says: “A free appropriate public education is available to all children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21, inclusive, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school.”

Yet, most of us probably use the definition of inclusion that you might find in a dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the action, practice, or fact of enabling all students, especially those with disabilities or learning difficulties, to participate in mainstream education while having their special needs supported”. This definition has been used for children with disabilities for at least 50 years and can be found in the 1973 book “The Disabled Schoolchild: A Study of Integration in Primary Schools” by Elizabeth Anderson.

Regular Education, Regular Classroom. These terms appear regularly in IDEA but have not been defined at any point from the passage of Public Law 94-142 through today. We know that specially designed instruction and supplementary aids and services are meant to support children in regular education and the regular classroom, but what are the parameters or limits of “regular” education and a “regular” classroom? Is an in-school suspension room a “regular” class because it’s also used by children without disabilities? Is a classroom that is mostly comprised of children who have IEPs and services under Section 504 “regular?” Does “reverse mainstreaming” (another undefined term) create a “regular” education environment? There is a great deal to consider here.

Fortunately, IDEA is very clear about one thing: the requirement that “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” 34 C.F.R. § 300.114. This is a guiding principle of IDEA and we’re never going back to the separate and unequal treatment of children with disabilities. 

I do, however, want to ensure that students have meaningful educational experiences. I am interested in discussing and sharing what makes an inclusive setting meaningful for all. I am interested in increasing the success of students with disabilities in these settings. I want the field to think carefully about how we provide more than just physical access to a classroom, but meaningful access to the general education curriculum. This requires that we also discuss how we can support our general education colleagues and bring the necessary expertise to every school and classroom. Over the past several months, OSEP staff has begun having these discussions with stakeholders and I’m so appreciative for the stakeholder input and comments we’ve received. We’ll continue reflecting on this input and engaging in discussions to determine how best to support the field so that we can all better support our children. 

As always, your thoughts and ideas are appreciated, and you can share any ideas that you have on this topic by emailing idea@ed.gov.

In solidarity,


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

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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 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.


OSEP Participates in White House Roundtable Event

As part of the White House celebrations for Black History Month, OSEP Director Valerie C. Williams participated in a White House Roundtable with Young Black Leaders with Disabilities. Read her blog post about the event and watch the video of the event. 

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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 OSEP Monthly TA call in March will be on Thursdays, March 2 and 9, 2023, at 4:00pm (EST). Please note that the first call on March 2, 2023, is the rescheduled call on the 2023 Grant Application process.

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State Performance Plans / Annual Performance Reports (APRs)

We are busily reviewing the FFY 2021 SPP/APR submissions in preparation for the clarification period in April. We will hold an OSEP Monthly TA call on the SPP/APR Clarification process on Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 4:00pm (EDT).

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IDEA Part B/C Grants

OSEP’s rescheduled OSEP Monthly TA call on the FFY 2023 IDEA Grant Application packages was held on March 2, 2023. Please access the posted recording and materials if you missed the call. Additionally, the 2023 IDEA Grant Application package materials are available on our IDEA Website.

The 2023 IDEA Grant Applications for both Part B and C programs are due on May 24, 2023. As a result, the public participation deadline for both Part B and C programs is March 24, 2023.

DMS 2.0

Differentiated Monitoring and Support (DMS)

The next OSEP Monthly TA Call on DMS will be on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 4:00pm (EDT).

#ICYMI OSEP’s February National TA Call on DMS (February 9, 2023) highlighted content from the first three Monitoring Report’s, covering common findings, themes and trends.

Those States in Cohorts 1, 2, and 3 are 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.

Dose of Data: Did You Know

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Did you know?

In 2020-21, approximately 66% of students with disabilities, ages 5 (in Kindergarten) through 21, are being educated inside the regular class 80% or more of the day.

OSEP Fast Facts: Percentage of Students with Disabilities, Ages 5 through 21, By Educational Environment and Disability Category: SY 2020-21

Data Source:

U.S. Department of Education, EDFacts Data Warehouse (EDW): “IDEA Part B Child Count and Educational Environments Collection,” 2020-21. https://data.ed.gov/dataset/71ca7d0c-a161-4abe-9e2b-4e68ffb1061a/resource/c515f168-be9c-4505-a6d7-d52a47b9b2b7/download/bchildcountandedenvironment2020-21.csv.


“Other disabilities combined” includes deaf-blindness (less than 0.03 percent), developmental delay (3.8 percent), hearing impairment (1.0 percent), multiple disabilities (1.8 percent), orthopedic impairment (0.5 percent), traumatic brain injury (0.4 percent), and visual impairment (0.4 percent). All SY 2020 data for students ages 5 through 21 represents students ages 5 (in kindergarten) through 21.

To explore this visualization further, please go to: OSEP Fast Facts: Educational Environments of School Aged Children with Disabilities

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Session 4 of IDIO Encore Virtual Series Data Equity: How to Align Your Data with Your Mission

On Friday, March 17th, DaSy will host Session 4 of the IDIO Encore Virtual Series. This session will repeat the recording of We All Count’s Heather Krause’s Opening Plenary Data Equity: How to Align Your Data with Your Mission. This recording from the IDIO in-person Conference in August 2022, will include live, interactive activities and the opportunity to interact with other states. 

This talk is designed as introduction to the practice of aligning your data work with your mission through the choices you make. Rather than a laundry list of problems, this talk leaves audiences feeling refreshed and hopeful, coming away with sharp, concise explanations of issues they knew they were facing but could not describe; empowered and excited to regain control over how their choices to collect, report, and analyze data and the stories they tell affect young children with disabilities and their families.

For more information and to register, click here!

Intended Audience: The IDIO Encore is designed for IDEA Part C and Part B Section 619 Coordinators, IDEA Part C and B Data Managers, parent leaders, and others working to improve outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families.

Heather Krause Event Announcement

ED Updates

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Young Dual Language Learners: Strategies for Caregivers and Early Childhood Educators

On Tuesday, March 14th, from 3:00 – 4:30 pm EDT, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, in collaboration with the Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Educational Laboratories West, is hosting a webinar on the topic of early learning of children who are dual language learners. The webinar will identify strategies and resources for caregivers and early childhood educators to support developing and optimizing the experiences of young dual language learners in early childhood education programs and settings. The presentation will include discussions of social and emotional learning; oral language development; family engagement; and inclusion and student engagement.

To register, click here.

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From Vision to Action: Transforming Kindergarten into a Sturdy Bridge from Early Learning to K–12 Education

On Wednesday, March 22, 2023, from 12:00pm – 1:30pm PDT, join the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning to learn from state education agency leaders as they discuss their work to provide young children with equitable and developmentally appropriate conditions for learning as they transition into kindergarten.

To register, click here.

News from Our Centers

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Research Highlights from the National Center for Special Education Research

The Institute for Education Science’s National Center for Special Education Research (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.

Family Access to Knowledge of their Rights in Transition and Guardianship for Students with Disabilities features a conversation with Dr. Allison Hall about her research on the role of special educators in informing youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families about transfer-of-rights and guardianship issues when students transition to postsecondary living.

Spotlighting Doug and Lynn Fuchs: Two Decades of Innovative Special Education Research celebrates the Fuchs’s as recipients of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education and highlights the impressive portfolio of their IES-funded research on students who struggle with reading and math, including those with disabilities.

Empowering the Families of Black Autistic Children through Culturally Responsive, Community-Based Interventions features an interview with Dr. Jamie Pearson on her research to build the capacity of Black parents of autistic children to access and utilize special education services, the need to focus on the intersection of disability and race/ethnicity, and her advice to emerging scholars from under-represented groups.

Intervention Strategies on Dropout Prevention and College and Career Readiness for Students with Disabilities: An Interview with Dr. Kern celebrates CTE Month by highlighting her work developing an intervention for the diversity of students with emotional and behavioral disorders to reduce dropout rates and better prepare them for postsecondary life.

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New Resource on Identification of Usher Syndrome

A new National Center on Deaf-Blindness(NCDB) product on Usher syndrome, a leading genetic cause of deaf-blindness, is now available on the NCDB website. Authored by Nancy O’Donnell, Outreach Director at the Usher Syndrome Coalition, Identification of Usher Syndrome: Information and Resources offers a wealth of information on the types and characteristics of Usher, how it is diagnosed, and the importance of timely referral. It also includes fact sheets with information specifically designed for educators, healthcare professionals, and families.

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Guidance for Engaging Critical Perspectives

The State Implementation and Scaling up of Evidence-based Practices TA Center describes why engaging critical perspectives is important and how to do so in this recently recorded webinar. An accompanying brief, resource, and tool walk the reader through creating a plan to engage important perspectives and an equitable process for participation.


Additional Resources

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A Guide to Noticing STEM learning

All children can develop the foundations for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning from infancy, and noticing is an important foundational skill. In this document, we operationally define noticing and provide examples of different ways young children, including children with disabilities, may show us how they have noticed something/someone in their environment.

Personnel Development Resources

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IRIS Fundamental Skills Sheets

IRIS Fundamental Skill Sheets provide quick primers or reminders about discrete skills that are indispensable to any classroom educators’ toolbox. Each concise resource defines a skill, summarizes the evidence-base, provides steps and tips for implementation, and—best of all—contains brief demonstration videos with both examples and non-examples. There are currently seven skills featured in the collection:

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Showcasing Implementation in Action


EdTech for All: Video Series

The U.S. Department of Education invites you to join the first educational technology (edtech) webinar to learn about WEGO-RIITE in this live online webinar. 

What: WEGO-RIITE is an online tool aimed to improve essay writing for writers with and without disabilities and to support teachers in data-driven decision-making during writing instruction. 

Who: Learn from the WEGO-RIITE developer, an educator who uses WEGO-RIITE with their students, and a parent whose child uses WEGO-RIITE. 

When: Thursday, March 30, 2023 @4–5:00pm EDT. 

How: You can compete this registration form to sign up to join the live webinar. If you cannot watch live, the recorded webinar will be posted on the Office of Educational Technology YouTube and Office of Special Education Programs IDEAsthatWork website. 

Accommodations: Auto-closed captioning and ASL interpreters will be available. Please email ED.Tech@ed.gov for any other accommodations or needs with subject: “Edtech for all video series” 

This tool was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, #H327S180004. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned here is intended or should be inferred.

In Case You Missed It

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“We Can All Be Teachers of Literacy”: Coaching Teachers Schoolwide to Help Adolescents Read

On February 22, Jade Wexler, the inaugural recipient of the University of Maryland College of Education’s Dean’s Impact Professorship, and panel of 12 educators and administrators from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) discussed an innovative coaching model that supports teachers as they work to improve adolescents’ reading outcomes.

Adaptive Intervention Model (AIM) Coaching provides ongoing, individualized support for middle school teachers implementing literacy practices in content-area classes like social studies, science and English language arts, as well as in supplemental intervention courses, such as special education. Because 60% of secondary school students with disabilities spend 80% or more of their day in general education classes, it’s critical for all teachers–not just reading specialists or special education teachers–to teach literacy practices. Although the pilot studies, one of which is an OSEP Model Demonstration Project, currently focus mainly on sixth grade, the ultimate goal is to create sustainable, schoolwide models that improve student reading achievement.

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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