Topical Issues

Teacher with mom and student signing

This section of the website houses a collection of materials that provide considerations on national topics in education, from the lens of children with disabilities and their families.

This page will be updated regularly with additional topics and resources, so check back frequently!

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

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. On this page you will be able to register for the kickoff event and discover resources related to this important topic.

Topical issues includes:

  • Assistive Technology Devices and Services for Children with Disabilities Under the IDEA
    • On January 22, 2024, the Office of Educational Technology and the Office of Special Education Programs published guidance in support of children with disabilities who need assistive technology (AT) devices and services for meaningful access and engagement in education. This page will provide additional information and resources..
  • 2022 OSEP Discipline-Behavior Guidance
    • This page contains resources to help teachers, administrators, local education agencies (LEAs), and State education agencies (SEAs) implement this guidance into their practice as part of their ongoing pandemic recovery efforts. It includes a seminal resource document from the US Department of Education that provided guidance to States on policies related to the use of seclusion and restraint practices in schools. It also links to the more recent Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), guide Positive, Proactive Approaches to Addressing the Needs of Children with Disabilities: A Guide for Stakeholders, which provides actions stakeholders can take to implement positive, proactive, and preventative practices that address children’s behavioral needs while decreasing the use of exclusionary discipline.
  • Attract, Prepare, Retain
    • The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is focusing on strategies to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel—general and special education teachers, early childhood personnel, and related services providers—who have the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective instruction, interventions, supports, and services to children with disabilities. This topic disproportionately affects children with disabilities and their families due to the many unfilled positions and high attrition rates among special education teachers, early childhood personnel, and related services providers. Here you will find research and resources focusing on this important topic.
  • Continuity of Learning During COVID-19
    • With the extended school closures happening throughout the United States, many States, districts, schools, parents, families, and students are having to learn in entirely new ways and facing challenges when it comes to learning during these unprecedented times. It is important to provide continuity of learning and growth for all children and youth, particularly those with disabilities. You will find information, tools, and resources to help educators, parents and families, and related service providers meet the educational, behavioral, and emotional needs of children and youth with disabilities through remote, virtual and hybrid learning.
  • Disproportionality and Equity
    • IDEA section 618(d) requires States to collect and examine data to determine if significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring with respect to identification of children as children with disabilities and the placement in particular educational settings of such children, in addition to the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions of students. IDEA does not, however, define “significant disproportionality.” Here you will find resources focused on supporting your work related to identifying significant disproportionality.
  • English Learners
    • Here you will find resources for educators, students, families and LEAs to support your work with students who are English Learners (EL) and parents who are Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
  • Family Engagement
    • When families, communities and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits. For schools and districts across the U.S., family continues to be an integral part of education reform efforts. Resources found here include briefs developed by the SWIFT Center, a video series focusing on best practices for family engagement and numerous presentations to support your work building family partnerships.
  • Part C Resources page
    • This page provides resources including the Working Together to Support All Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities webinar and a series of Implementation Technical Assistance Guides shared during the December 14, 2022 webinar, that identify strategies and highlight resources and best practices for ensuring that families have equitable access to IDEA Part C services. The guides are intended for IDEA Part C coordinators, State and local early childhood program administrators, early childhood and health providers, families, policymakers and any individuals or organizations committed to improving outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities. 
  • Smart Beginnings 2022 - Webinar Series and Resources
    • The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will showcase presentations from 2021 and 2022 on a range of topics designed to promote educational excellence for infants, toddlers, youth, and families of children with disabilities.  These presentations are targeted to OSEP stakeholder audiences that include K-12 personnel, providers, teachers, administrators, families.
  • Social, Emotional, Behavior, and Mental Health Supports
    • Many children and youth struggle with mental health challenges that impact their full access to and participation in learning, leading to behaviors that are often misunderstood and can be interpreted as inconsistent with school or program expectations. The COVID-19 global pandemic intensified these challenges, accelerating the need to provide school-based mental health support and leverage our accumulated knowledge about how to offer nurturing educational environments to meet the needs of our nation’s youth. You will find resources and links to Federally-Funded Centers that offer tools to support this important topic.