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OSEP's May 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

May 2021

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In This Issue:

From the Director

David Cantrell (960px)

Message from Acting OSEP Director, Dr. David Cantrell

Greetings Stakeholders!

As I write this month’s message, I find myself reflecting on the many activities and events that have occurred across our nation this spring in support of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. These are certainly challenging times, but I am humbled to see the extensive collaboration and partnerships between the many national disability organizations which I have had the pleasure of speaking with since January. Additionally, I have been impressed with the collaboration across our Department as well as with other agencies, such as the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services. This collaboration is resulting in the development of short and long-term activities which will have a positive impact to improve the outcomes of children and youth with disabilities!

On April 30th, the Biden-Harris Administration reached its first 100-days mark. Our office continues to work closely with the new administration, particularly in the areas of equity and the health and safety for all students. Specifically, the OSEP team is working hard to support the administration’s goals which include:

  • Promoting equity in student access to educational resources, opportunities, and welcoming environments;
  • Supporting a diverse education workforce, and educators’ professional growth, to strengthen student learning;
  • Meeting students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs;
  • Improving student postsecondary education pathways, college affordability and completion; and
  • Strengthening cross-agency coordination and community engagement to advance systemic change.

These are indeed challenging times. However, it is reassuring to see that educators across the nation meet those challenges head on. Thank you for all you do to support our infants, toddlers, youth and young adults with disabilities and their families!

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


ED Updates

Turnover in the Early Childhood Workforce: Research and Practitioner Perspectives

On Thursday, May 6th from 2:00pm to 3:00pm ET join the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northeast & Islands for a webinar that will examine turnover rates in the early childhood educator workforce across different center types and discuss strategies for improving educator retention. Turnover in the early childhood educator workforce is a critical issue because it affects the quality of early childhood education environments. In this interactive webinar, Dr. Meg Caven, co-author of the new REL study Center- and Program-Level Factors Associated with Turnover in the Early Childhood Workforce, will share an overview of the study. Dr. Clare Waterman Irwin, REL Northeast & Islands research scientist, will explore the study’s findings. The presenters will then lead a discussion about the challenges and strategies related to educator retention—as well as policy efforts to reduce turnover—with a panel of early childhood practitioners from early childhood centers and state agencies. To register for this webinar, click here.

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Institute of Education Science/Small Business Innovation Research (IES/SBIR)

The IES/SBIR program is hosting the 8th Annual ED Games Expo (All-Virtual) from June 1 to 6, 2021. The ED Games Expo is an annual showcase of game-changing innovations in education technology that were developed through more than 30 programs at the US Department of Education and across the federal government. (NOTE: The new Expo YouTube Channel will be launched on June 1, 2021).

Showcase Events focus on a range of important topics in education with timely and relevant resources. Event topics include special education, early learning, social studies, eSports, learning games, student STEM challenges, and many more.

Registration for the Early Childhood and Special Education Showcase event (Game Changing Technology, Tools, and Supports that Grow with Children and Families), scheduled for June 2, 2021 at 1:00pm ET, is available here.


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Dose of Data

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Did You Know?

The number of students with disabilities, ages 14–21, who graduated with a regular high school diploma has increased by over 20% between SY 2008–09 to SY 2018–2019.

Source: 201819/2019 IDEA Section 618 Data Fast Facts


OSEP Releases Fast Facts on Part C and B New Data Files and Part B Personnel

OSEP is excited to release two new Fast Facts that take a closer look at our newly released 2018–19/2019 state level data files on the IDEA Section 618 Data Products website.

The new 2018–19/2019 IDEA Section 618 Data Fast Facts provides information on this release and includes displays related to Part B Child Count and Educational Environments, Part C Child Count and Settings, Discipline and Part B and Part C Exiting data collections. Our Part B Personnel Fast Facts provides visualizations on special education teachers, related services personnel, and paraprofessionals employed or contracted to work with children with disabilities who are ages 3 through 21.



State Performance Plans / Annual Performance Reports

OSEP appreciated the opportunity to conduct clarification calls with States during the month of April. We are busily reviewing both the SSIP and clarifications  to prepare for Determinations.

Additionally, the GRADS 360º web-link will transition to starting in June. 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

The FFY 2021 IDEA Part B and Part C grant allocation tables (including the interactive spreadsheet for Part B) were released on April 22, 2021. They are available on our IDEA website. Specific details on the distribution of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) supplemental allocations will be provided soon. However, estimated ARP allocations were posted on our IDEA American Rescue Plan page. Updated information on the FFY 2021 IDEA grant awards was presented at the beginning of the OSEP Monthly Technical Assistance call on DMS on Thursday, 4/22/21. The recording and materials are posted on the IDEAs That Work 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. 

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 State Leads have begun monthly COVID-19 calls with all States. The purpose of these calls is to ensure that 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 TA and guidance we provide moving forward.

OSEP will continue convening monthly DMS Technical Assistance (TA) Calls on the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:00 p.m. ET. The next scheduled call is May 27th, 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.


Featured Resources

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Leading for Literacy: Taking a Deep Dive into Professional Development Structures

Join the Lead for Literacy Center’s Ursula Hill and Jennifer Pierce on June 3, 2021 at 2:00pm ET as they present the seventh session in the NAESP-Lead for Literacy Center series. Learn about the critical components of high-quality professional development for effective school-wide reading programs, key considerations for job-embedded learning and coaching, and effective collaboration structures for professional learning. Participants will have the opportunity to develop a well-articulated professional development plan that will help teachers support students with or at risk for reading disabilities.

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National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

Join the NLS in celebrating its 90th anniversary! The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) at the Library of Congress, has made it easier for people with perceptual and reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, to use its services.

“We are pleased to increase access to NLS services for people with dyslexia and similar perceptual reading disabilities,” NLS Director Karen Keninger said. “This change aligns NLS with educational specialists who are the most likely to identify a reading disability, and we hope that NLS can provide tools that can help.”

NLS administers service through a national network of libraries, providing books and magazines in audio and braille. Materials can be conveniently downloaded to a patron’s personal device and are also available through the mail, along with playback equipment, on digital cartridges or in hard-copy braille. Music instructional and accessible scores are also available. For more information, visit or contact Click here to find the NLS library in your state.         

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.

U.S. Department of Education Launches Best Practices Clearinghouse to Highlight Innovative Practices for Reopening Schools and Campuses

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse (the Clearinghouse), a website that highlights the innovative work underway nationwide in continuing to reopen K-12 schools, early childhood centers and postsecondary institutions. Through the Clearinghouse, the Department is providing examples of how schools and other educational institutions can safely reopen as communities continue recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Request for Information on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools, Colleges and Universities, and Early Childhood Education Providers

The Department welcomes lessons learned and best practices from the field for consideration for the Safer Schools and Campuses Clearinghouse, including those with an educational equity focus. Submissions should be sent via email to: Please find additional submission information in the Federal Register notice.


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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About the Author

David J. Cantrell, Ph.D., a member of the U.S. Government Senior Executive Service, serves as the acting director in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, at the U.S. Department of Education (Department). In this role, he is responsible for overseeing administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which authorizes formula grants to States under IDEA Part B and to lead agencies for the infants and families program under IDEA Part C. IDEA also authorizes discretionary grants under IDEA Part D to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations to support grants for state personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, and parent training and information centers.