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US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Functional Statements > Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

D. Office of Special Education Programs

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provides leadership and fiscal resources to assist State and local efforts to educate children with disabilities in order to improve results for those children and to ensure equal protection of the law. Its programs assist public agencies to provide all infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities early intervention services and a free appropriate public education which emphasizes challenging standards and access to the general curriculum to the extent appropriate. These programs are intended to assure that the rights of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their parents are protected. OSEP accomplishes this mission by:

  • developing, communicating and disseminating Federal policy and information on early intervention and the education of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities;
  • administering formula grants and discretionary programs authorized by Congress;
  • fostering and supporting research and the development of knowledge and innovations to improve results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities;
  • promoting and supporting the training of educational, related services, and leadership personnel, and parents and volunteers;
  • evaluating, monitoring, and reporting on the implementation of Federal policy and programs and the effectiveness of early intervention and educational efforts for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities; and,
  • coordinating with other Federal agencies, State agencies, and the private sector including parent and professional organizations, private schools, and organizations of persons with disabilities for the review of policy, program planning, and implementation issues.

OSEP is under the supervision of a Director who reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The Director of the Office of Special Education Programs provides overall direction, coordination, and leadership to two divisions:

Among the strategies used to connect the Research to Practice Division and the Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Division are joint participation of staff from both Divisions on OSEP's cross-cutting teams on such topics as technical assistance, improving services for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance, and other topics critical to the implementation of IDEA.

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Office of the Director

The Office of the Director assures the effective implementation of OSEP's legislative mission, advises the Assistant Secretary on Federal educational policy related to individuals with disabilities, and provides leadership in addressing problems of American education for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through the activities of OSEP and within the context of the policies of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Education, and the Congress.

The Office of the Director is responsible for providing leadership to the management and resource allocation activities of OSEP. The Office of the Director assures coordination between the formula and discretionary grant programs administered by OSEP. The Office of the Director serves as the primary communication link between OSEP and constituencies such as parents, professional groups, and organizations of individuals with disabilities. As such, it is responsible for communicating the Administration's priorities and initiatives in early intervention and the education of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, responding to constituency concerns and needs, and providing leadership for development of national consensus on the issues facing special education.

The Program Support Services Group reports directly to the Office of the Director and is responsible for providing cross-divisional program analysis including data collection and analysis, planning for initiatives, developing coordinated budgeting to support cross-divisional efforts, providing tracking and coordination/review for compliance with fiscal and program plans, and assisting with OSEP priority development. The Group provides coordination and liaison within OSEP and, working through the Office of the Assistant Secretary, with the Department and other organizations. In performing its responsibilities, the Group:

  • recommends and executes the OSEP budget;
  • coordinates OSEP program management information development, analysis, andreporting;
  • supports OSEP-wide program planning, analysis and evaluation;
  • provides OSERS-wide coordination and competition management for the SmallBusiness Innovation Research (SBIR) Program;
  • provides and coordinates OSEP-wide administrative management activities;
  • provides OSEP-wide Control Mail Management, Mail and Messenger Services; and,
  • provides Executive Secretarial Support to OSEP Leadership Council.

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Research to Practice Division

The Research to Practice Division provides leadership and oversees the implementation of knowledge development, transfer, and use to improve educational results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Division, together with parents of children with disabilities, individuals with disabilities, researchers, developers, trainers and service providers, formulates an agenda to improve the quality of early intervention and education for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Division is responsible for implementing this agenda through a systematic approach to program improvement through research, demonstration, outreach, technology development, technical assistance, training, evaluation and service delivery. The Division administers the research to practice programs of IDEA to improve programs and enhance the impact on infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Division provides leadership to four Teams:

Early Childhood Team;
Elementary and Middle School Team;
Secondary, Transition, and Post-Secondary Team; and,
National Initiatives Team.

The Early Childhood Team administers discretionary grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for projects that directly support Federally established priorities and initiatives designed to initiate, expand, and improve current practice or advance the state-of-the-art related to the provision of services for infants, toddlers, and pre-school-aged children with disabilities. The Team is responsible for programs designed to improve the quality and increase the supply of personnel to serve these children. The Team also manages a program of training and information services for parents of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.

The Elementary and Middle School Team administers discretionary grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for projects that directly support Federally established priorities and initiatives designed to initiate, expand, and improve current practice or advance the state-of-the-art related to the provision of services for elementary and middle school children with disabilities. The Team is responsible for programs designed to improve the quality and increase the supply of personnel to serve these children.

The Secondary, Transition, and Post-Secondary Team administers discretionary grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for projects that directly support Federally established priorities and initiatives designed to initiate, expand, and improve current practice or advance the state-of-the-art related to the provision of secondary school services, transition services, and post-secondary school services to youth with disabilities. The Team is responsible for programs designed to improve the quality and increase the supply of personnel to serve these students.

The National Initiatives Team administers discretionary grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for projects that directly support Federally established priorities and initiatives designed to initiate, expand, and improve current practice or advance the state-of-the-art related to the provision of services for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Team is responsible for activities designed to assess the national progress being made to implement the goals and requirements of IDEA as well as evaluating the impact and effectiveness of State and local efforts to provide early intervention services and a free appropriate public education to all infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Team is responsible for administering special projects designed to develop model training programs that advance the state-of-the-art in professional development. The Team also supports activities to improve the quality and increase the supply of leadership personnel. The Team is also responsible for the advancement of captioning and video description technology and administration of programs to bring captioning technology and video description advances to the benefit of people with disabilities.

In performing their responsibilities, Research to Practice Division Teams:

  • analyze current practice and integrate findings on specific topics in order to more effectively and efficiently assist researchers, trainers, service providers, and Federal program managers to enhance current efforts and plan future directions;
  • assess, plan, and implement strategies for programmatically addressing Federally-established priorities and initiatives;
  • develop priorities, review applications, and monitor grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts that individually and/or collectively are designed tosupport Federally-established priorities and initiatives;
  • work collaboratively with other Division staff in conducting competitions and monitoring projects;
  • manage information clearinghouses designed to provide information to improve programs and services for students with disabilities;
  • provide technical assistance to agencies and groups awarded contracts or grants and those that have responsibilities for providing or administering programs; and,
  • develop and administer new marketing and dissemination strategies.

In addition to the above, the National Initiatives Team:

  • analyzes and reports statistical information on the progress being made in early intervention and to provide all children with disabilities a free appropriate public education; and,
  • prepares an annual report to Congress on the national progress to implement the IDEA.

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Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Division

The Monitoring and State Improvement Planning (MSIP) Division carries out major activities related to the Part B, Part H, and 619 formula grant programs. The Division is responsible for State Plan review and approval, and for monitoring OSEP's formula grant programs to ensure consistency with Federal requirements and to ensure that States and other public agencies continue to implement programs designed to improve results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. Additionally, the Division provides leadership to OSEP's technical assistance provided to the States through the Regional Resource Centers. The State Improvement Planning activities are also managed by the MSIP Division through a cross-cutting team made up of staff from throughout OSEP.

The MSIP Division is divided into several Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Teams, each Team having expertise in the Part B and Part H programs and the capability to carry out functions related to those programs in assigned States and entities. The Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Teams have primary responsibility for reviewing and recommending approval of State plans. Additionally, the Teams monitor and provide/coordinate technical assistance to State Education Agencies to ensure effective implementation of early intervention and special education services to infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. These Teams work with customers to assist them in accessing a free appropriate public education.

In performing their responsibilities, Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Teams:

  • develop policies and procedures for review and approval of State Improvement Plans, provide technical assistance to State Education Agencies, and issue grant awards;
  • manage the award process, including development of priorities, review, evaluation, and documentation of all applications for funding;
  • participate in the development and dissemination of policy guidance, regulations, and program guidance in all areas or responsibility;
  • manage the resolution of audit findings (single audits, Inspector General audits, Government Accounting Office reports) including grantbacks, primary and collateral determinations;
  • develop and implement an annual program of monitoring, including pre-site, on-site and post-site activities, to identify areas of commendation and areas of noncompliance that require corrective action by the States;
  • provide or coordinate with other OSEP programs the provision of technical assistance to the States as needed in the development and implementation of the corrective action activities;
  • coordinate with the Department in implementation of the Department's integrated monitoring activities;
  • develop and implement systems for the review of State plan submissions, for coordinating with other offices as necessary, for preparing State plan approval and grant award letters, and for providing appropriate technical assistance to States to ensure consistency with Federal requirements and a timely release of Federal funds;
  • provide information to customers concerning the complaint process, analyze States' resolution of complaints, review and draft responses to requests for Secretarial review, and provide technical assistance to States to improve their procedures; and,
  • disseminate information by phone and in writing and coordinate with the Regional Resource Centers, clearinghouses, and others to provide technical assistance to customers and partners in response to general and policy interpretation requests in general and controlled correspondence, including Freedom of Information requests for OSEP.

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Last Modified: 06/28/2004