OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Current Section  News
What's New in OSERS

New Dear Colleague Letter on IDEA Dispute Resolution Procedures
This "Dear Colleague" letter provides guidance that states, hearing officers, school districts, school staff, parents and other stakeholders may find helpful in determining how to follow the IDEA dispute resolution procedures.



New WIOA NPRMs Available for Public Comment
The departments of Education and Labor today announced that they are seeking public comment on five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs)—proposing rules that would implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—through June 15, 2015.



WIOA NPRMs Available for Public Inspection
Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), were made available for public inspection on the Federal Register Public Inspection Web site on April 2, 2015. See the OSERS Blog for all the details. You can also access Word and PDF versions of the OSERS-related WIOA NPRM documents.



Early Literacy Tools and Resources
The end of third grade is the point at which children transition from learning to read to utilizing reading skills to understand the content of all subject areas. To strengthen third-grade reading proficiency for all students, including students of color and students with disabilities, the My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce has established a dedicated early literacy Web site to provide educators with tools, resources, and a learning community to help them improve reading instruction in their K-3 classrooms.



Ebola Q&A
OSERS is issuing a Question and Answer (Q&A) document to respond questions concerning extended absence of a child, school dismissal, or early intervention service (EIS) provider closure, due to public health actions related to Ebola virus exposure.

 OSERS Ebola Q&A (PDF, 278KB)



Correctional Education Guidance Package, Including an OSERS Dear Colleague Letter on IDEA for Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced the release of a Correctional Education Guidance Package to help states and local agencies aimed at helping states and local agencies strengthen the quality of education services provided to America’s estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day.



Check Out the First Post on Results Driven Accountability

The NEW OSERS Blog is here! Check out our first Blog post and give your feedback on Results Driven Accountability: IDEA Part C Results Data in Determinations. Also, please also visit the RDA Home page for all the latest RDA information and resources.



New FY14 OSERS Grants
OSERS has announced more than $121 million in grants to help improve the outcomes of children and adults with disabilities—from cradle through career. The investments are aimed at promoting inclusion, equity and opportunity for all children and adults with disabilities to help ensure their economic self-sufficiency, independent living and full community participation.

"These investments are significant in assisting individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We want all individuals with disabilities to succeed and these investments symbolize our values and commitment as a nation toward achieving excellence for all."



Invitation to Comment on Implementation of Title II and Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
In a joint blog post, OSERS and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) invite you to submit comments and recommendations to help us implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014.

Please submit comments by Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Submitting comments is voluntary and subject to ED blog comment policies.



President Obama Signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
The signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) creates a blueprint for job growth and makes key improvements to the nation’s workforce development system. For the unemployed, the new law offers hope; for the young, it offers encouragement; and for people with disabilities, it brings opportunity. This law helps workers attain the foundation skills necessary for 21st century jobs and fosters a modern workforce that can compete in a global economy. It emphasizes the creation of career pathway programs, improved training, and streamlined service delivery to individuals—especially for underserved youth and adults.

To find out more about OSERS and WIOA:



Questions and Answers Regarding Inclusion of English Learners with Disabilities in English Language Proficiency Assessments.
This guidance document is on the inclusion of English Learners (ELs) with disabilities in English language proficiency (ELP) assessments under Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). These are assessments designed to measure the progress of ELs in attaining English language proficiency. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) administers the ESEA and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) administers Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). OESE and OSERS are issuing the guidance to help states and LEAs understand how Part B of the IDEA and Titles I and III of the ESEA address the inclusion of ELs with disabilities in annual state ELP assessments.

  • Cover Letter:
    Word (203KB) | PDF (216KB)  
  • Q&A:
    Word (250KB) | PDF (94KB)



The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services is Excited to Announce a New Competition:
The National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities

On Wednesday, July 2, 2014, the U.S Department of Education published a notice in the Federal Register inviting applications for a new award to establish and operate a National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities (Center). The notice can be accessed at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-07-02/pdf/2014-15437.pdf. The center will assist State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and other VR service providers to implement evidence-based and promising practices and strategies to ensure that students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills, and supports needed for success in postsecondary education and employment.

The application package is available beginning on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 and the deadline for submitting completed applications is Monday, August 18, 2014.

For further information about the proposed center, please contact:



New Accountability Framework Raises the Bar for State Special Education Programs
To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.
Until now, the Department’s primary focus was to determine whether states were meeting procedural requirements such as timelines for evaluations, due process hearings and transitioning children into preschool services. While these compliance indicators remain important to children and families, under the new framework known as Results-Driven Accountability (RDA), the Department will also include educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities in making each state’s annual determination under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
“Every child, regardless of income, race, background, or disability can succeed if provided the opportunity to learn,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to the general curriculum in the regular classroom, they excel. We must be honest about student performance, so that we can give all students the supports and services they need to succeed.”
For more information about today’s announcement, including graphs, state fact sheets and letters, click here.



blue flag bullet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the definition of “reservation.”
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) published an NPRM in the June 23, 2014 Federal Register requesting public comment on the actions that the Department should take to amend the definition of “reservation” under the regulations governing the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) program in one of two ways. The Department is requesting comment from the public on two proposed amendments:

  1. Alternative A: would conform the definition to the Department’s current interpretation and practices.
  2. Alternative B: would limit the areas of land the Department considers to be reservations to those that are listed in the statutory definition of “reservation.”

The NPRM includes information about how to submit public comments. Responses must be received on or before Aug. 22, 2014.



blue flag bullet Request for Information (RFI) on Significant Disproportionality
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) published an RFI in the June 19, 2014 Federal Register requesting public comment on the actions that the Department should take to address significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity in special education. The Department is requesting input from the public on actions the Department should take related to:

  1. significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity in the:
    1. identification of children as children with disabilities, including identification by disability category;
    2. placement of children with disabilities in particular educational settings; and
    3. the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary action taken with respect to children with disabilities; and
  2. ensuring that funds reserved for comprehensive, coordinated early intervening services under Part B of the IDEA are used to effectively address significant disproportionality.

The RFI includes information about how to submit public comments. Responses must be received by July 28, 2014.

Download the RFI: PDF (222KB)



blue flag bullet Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! promotes early developmental and behavioral screening for kids
 Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! Celebrate your child's milestones.The U.S. Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services have launched Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! to encourage developmental and behavioral screening for children to support the families and providers who care for them. Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! will help families look for and celebrate milestones; promote universal screenings; identify delays as early as possible; and improve the support available to help children succeed in school and thrive alongside their peers.



blue flag bullet John Tschida is New NIDRR Director, Effective March 3, 2014.
John Tschida comes to NIDRR from the Courage Center, which recently merged with Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute to form the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (CKRI) in Minneapolis, Minn., where he served as vice president for public affairs and research. As a person with a spinal cord injury, he has personal as well as professional experience in issues of disability and access, and his work was deeply rooted in raising public awareness and aligning state law to support people living as independently as possible. Tschida also has served on a number of public and private boards designing policy or governance solutions to further the independence of people with disabilities, and worked closely with the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. He has written numerous articles on disability, healthcare and public policy for national and local news outlets and magazines.

Mr. Tschida returns to the D.C. area, where he was a Health Policy Research Fellow under the auspices of the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s (NRH) Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability and Managed Care funded by NIDRR (1997-2001). Tschida’s fellowship included acquiring his Master in Public Policy (MPP) degree in health policy at Georgetown University Graduate Program in Public Policy and doing his practicum at the NRH Research Center.

Mr. Tschida follows K. Charlie Lakin, Ph.D., as director of NIDRR. Dr. Lakin served as director from 2011 to February 2014.



blue flag bullet PROMISE FAQ for Applicants
This FAQ provides an explanation of various provisions included in the Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) program's notice inviting applications (NIA) in order to assist potential applicants in designing their proposed projects. PROMISE was proposed by the Obama Administration to improve the education and career outcomes of low income children with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).



blue flag bullet OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Braille
The purpose of this letter is to provide guidance to states and public agencies to reaffirm the importance of Braille instruction as a literacy tool for blind and visually impaired students, to clarify the circumstances in which Braille instruction should be provided, and to reiterate the scope of an evaluation required to guide decisions of IEP Teams in this area. This letter also identifies resources that are designed to help strengthen the capacity of state and local personnel to meet the needs of students who are blind or visually impaired.



blue flag bullet OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Suggested Model for Written Notification of Parental Rights regarding Use of Public Benefits or Insurance
On February 14, 2013, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published the final regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to amend rules governing the use of public benefits or insurance. These amendments include a new requirement for public agencies to provide written notification to a child’s parents before accessing a child’s or parent’s public benefits or insurance (e.g., Medicaid) for the first time and annually thereafter. To assist states and public agencies in implementing this new requirement, we are providing a model written notification, which you may wish to provide to school districts in your state to use to meet the new requirements.



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Last Modified: 04/17/2015