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

D. Office of Special Education Programs

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts. OSEP administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which authorizes formula grants to state agencies and discretionary grants to institutions of higher education and other nonprofit organizations to support technical assistance and dissemination, technology, personnel development and parent-training and information centers.

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 under IDEA;
  • 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:

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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 planning, support and analysis.

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Research to Practice Division

The Research to Practice Division (RTP) 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 personnel preparation, technology development, technical assistance, and support of parent information centers.

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Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Division

The Monitoring and State Improvement Planning (MSIP) Division, administers formula grant programs pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The MSIP Division is responsible for monitoring grantee performance and compliance with the legal requirements of those programs. MSIP evaluates the formula grant monitoring procedures on a regular basis to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the monitoring process. Over the past five years, MSIP has progressed from a system using Continuous Improvement Visits (CIV) and Focused Monitoring (FM) visits to its current monitoring framework, Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) system. In the past, MSIP's primary focus was on ensuring that States were meeting IDEA program procedural requirements. RDA is a systemic approach designed to ensure that all components of an accountability system will be aligned in a manner that best supports States in improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. The monitoring process is documented through manuals, and training tools that are revised on a regular basis and help guide the design of a monitoring plan for the programs funded under IDEA in accordance with the following monitoring principals and associated activities.

  • MSIP engages grantees to assist them in meeting performance standards and IDEA grant requirements. MSIP accomplishes this through a review of the IDEA formula grant applications for Parts B and C, the State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) process. MSIP conducts differentiated monitoring, which may include desk audits and/or onsite visits and provides differentiated technical assistance and support to states on non-fiscal IDEA requirements throughout the process.

  • MSIP uses SPP/APR analyses, state profiles, desk audits, data analysis, customer service data and a risk rubric to identify potential areas of concern in the grantees administration of the IDEA grant (e.g. the RDA Data Implementation Team looks at trends within the state and across states and then develops analysis-based recommendations for the other RDA Implementation Teams).

  • Grantees' noncompliance is identified primarily through data submitted by the grantee in the SPP/APR annually and the Section 618 data tables. In addition, MSIP conducts desk audits in a focused area and provides TA and support to the state on potential areas of non-compliance. As a result of a risk assessment further inquiry may lead to a finding of noncompliance. In FFY 2012, a Fiscal Workgroup was created to conduct ongoing fiscal monitoring to increase the focus and ensure consistency of findings across states related to fiscal accountability.

  • A state is provided official notification of findings through: audit findings; fiscal reports; grant notification letters; SPP/APR response in GRADS; determination letters, monitoring letters or separate letters or memos related to these processes. Each of these methods includes required actions and timelines and specifies the process through which findings will be resolved.

  • States submit data through the SPP/APR compliance and results indicators as a part of the SPP/APR process. After a careful review of the indicators, noncompliance may be identified through GRADS in the OSEP response and required action boxes, which include required actions. States may also be required to attach documentation of corrective actions to their IDEA grant application.

  • MSIP maintains information that documents and tracks States compliance with the IDEA grant requirements and progress in meeting performance standards. MSIP provides a written response to close-out finding(s). This response is provided in an SPP/APR through GRADS in the OSEP response box and/or determination letter, a separate memo, or the grant notification letter.

  • MSIP evaluates, on a regular basis, the efficiency and effectiveness of its monitoring practices, procedures, and controls and revising those practices, procedures, and controls as needed.

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Last Modified: 02/12/2016