A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

February 1, 2022
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DESE Special Education Updates
Key updates and announcements for special education leaders
  1. Upcoming Special Education Leaders' Meeting
  2. Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility Determination Guidance
  3. New ED1 Form
  4. Annual LEA Determinations under IDEA
  5. Reporting Physical Restraints
  6. PreK Temporary Waivers No Longer Issued
  7. 2022-23 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year
Upcoming Special Education Leaders’ Meeting 
The next Special Education Leaders’ Meeting will be held on Friday, February 11, 2022, from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM.  

The Zoom link for these meetings will be sent to Special Education Leaders in a separate email.
Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility Determination Guidance
DESE is pleased to announce the new, interactive Massachusetts Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility Determination Guidance reusable learning object (RLO). This online resource replaces Is Special Education the Right Service? (ISERS). DESE gratefully acknowledges the assistance and contributions of numerous stakeholders in developing this resource, especially the Massachusetts Association of School Psychologists.
New ED1 Form
In response to the development of the Massachusetts Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility Determination GuidanceDESE has made a few minor changes to the Special Education Eligibility/Initial and Reevaluation Determination form (ED1), which many know as the “eligibility flowchart.” You can find it on the IEP forms page,

The new ED1 has been updated with a larger font size and consolidated to one page. In response to stakeholder feedback, the questions were updated as follows:

Table showing changes to questions 2a and 2c in the new ED1
Annual LEA Determinations under IDEA
Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), DESE must make annual determinations regarding Local Education Agencies’ (LEA) specific needs for technical assistance or intervention in special education. Massachusetts does so based on four categories:
  • Meets Requirements (MR)
  • Needs Assistance (NA)
  • Needs Intervention (NI)
  • Needs Substantial Intervention (NSI)
In February, DESE will notify each LEA of its determination. DESE continues to prioritize improving the quality of coordinated technical assistance and intervention provided to schools and districts in special education. For LEAs determined to be NA or NI, DESE will follow up directly with LEAs regarding next steps for this year’s coordinated approach to providing your district with technical assistance and intervention.
Reporting Physical Restraints
All restraint-related injuries must be reported to DESE no later than three school-working days of the administration of the restraint. The report must be submitted through the Security Portal. You can find a sample of the report form and the additional report form for prone restraints at Note that 603 CMR 46.03 prohibits the administration of the prone restraint except under specific circumstances on an individual student basis. Districts may be asked to provide additional information for submitted reports indicating the administration of floor prone restraints.
PreK Temporary Waivers No Longer Issued
DESE no longer issues emergency 3-month PreK waivers. In COVID-19 Special Education Administrative Advisory 2021-1, Procedures for Temporary Waiver of Classroom Ratios in Preschool Inclusionary Programs, issued on October 23, 2020, districts were informed that they could request a temporary compliance waiver from the classroom ratio requirements described in 603 CMR 28.06(7)(e)(2). This waiver could be sought to provide temporary relief in exceptional circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the state emergency has ended, DESE no longer issues these waivers.
2022-2023 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2022-2023 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

Every year, but particularly over the past two years, our schools have needed teachers who are constantly learning, growing, and innovating. The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year program is a way for incredible teachers to be celebrated, share their voice and their learning journey, and broaden their impact.

This year, preference will be given to teachers who have consistently showcased their ability to:
  • Build deep, meaningful relationships with students.
  • Empower students through evidence-based instruction.
  • Reflect on their own practice.
  • Successfully innovate and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Affirm students’ identities and work toward removing inequities.
  • Embed and prioritize culturally responsive and sustaining practices in their classrooms. 
Visit DESE’s website for more information about the application process and eligibility criteria, and consider nominating a teacher or applying today!
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Copyright © 2022 Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, All rights reserved.

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