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

October 2022
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DESE Special Education Updates
Key updates and announcements for special education leaders
  1. Upcoming Special Education Leaders' Meeting
  2. IEP Improvement Project
  3. Amendment to Special Education Regulations on Early Literacy Screening
  4. Educational Stability Office Hours and Resources
  5. In Case You Missed It
Upcoming Special Education Leaders’ Meeting 
Please note that the next Special Education Leaders’ Meeting will be held tomorrow Friday, October 21st, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

The Zoom link for this meeting has already been sent to Special Education Leaders in a separate email. 

(Updated Time: In an earlier version of this Update the incorrect time was listed for the Special Education Leaders' Meeting. The meeting will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Improvement Project
The Department continues to move forward with collecting stakeholder feedback regarding the draft IEP form (IEP1 through IEP8). On September 16, the Early Adopters had their first convening of the school year and were introduced to updated portions of the draft IEP. The Early Adopters will be using the sections of the forms in the IEP Team process, gathering feedback, and reporting back to the Department this November. This feedback will assist the Department in further refining and updating the form, with an anticipated re-release this winter. We will provide an overview of the updated sections at our meeting on October 21.
Amendment to Special Education Regulations on Early Literacy Screening
Early Literacy screening creates the opportunity to assess the most predictive early literacy skills and identify and effectively educate students with reading difficulties, including dyslexia (Massachusetts Dyslexia Guidelines). Screening students to identify potential reading difficulties, paired with an evidence-based and culturally responsive approach to literacy instruction (Mass Literacy), will allow all students to thrive as readers.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education recently amended the special education regulations to add an early literacy screening requirement. This regulation goes into effect July 1, 2023. The amendment reflects feedback from parents, educators, experts, advocates, and reading specialists and aligns to MA Dyslexia Guidelines and Mass Literacy, which are linked above. According to the new regulation:
  • Each school district shall at least twice per year assess each student’s reading ability and progress in literacy skills, from kindergarten through at least third grade, using a valid, developmentally appropriate screening instrument approved by the Department;
  • If such screenings determine that a student is significantly below relevant benchmarks for age-typical development in specific literacy skills, the school shall determine which actions within the general education program will meet the student’s needs, including differentiated or supplementary evidence-based reading instruction and ongoing monitoring of progress;
  • Within 30 school days of a screening result that is significantly below the relevant benchmarks, the school shall inform the student’s parent or guardian of the screening results and the school’s response and shall offer them the opportunity for a follow-up discussion.
Read the new regulation here.
Information on the approved Early Literacy Universal Screening Assessments can be found here. The assessments are designed to be brief and easy to administer. The Department will offer grants during the current school year to help schools and districts implement an approved screener.
Further guidance on administering approved early screeners and family communication will be coming in Spring 2023.
Educational Stability Office Hours and Resources
The Office of Student and Family Support (SFS) has announced this year's Office Hours forum, hosted by the Educational Stability Team, for homeless liaisons, foster care points of contact, and Department of Children and Families (DCF), district, and provider staff to ask questions, discuss current issues, and share best practices for supporting highly mobile students and their access to a public education. Office Hours start in October and will include a 45–60 minute webinar and an additional half hour to allow for follow-up Q&As. The forum will occur the first Wednesday of each month from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the third Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. For more information on topics at each forum, please click here

Additionally, Training Modules have been developed in-house by the Team. These modules are each 30 to 60 minutes long, topic-focused and Massachusetts-specific. Module topics include: Awareness, Identification and Educational Rights, Enrollment, and Transportation. Feel free to use them for your own reference or as part of staff training. The Team will be adding modules on an ongoing basis, so please stay tuned to the Educational Stability Office Hours and Training Resources website.
We Are Hiring - Auditor Position
The Office of Special Education Planning and Policy (SEPP) is seeking an Auditor IV to join our team. SEPP is integral to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) development of policy, oversight of programming, and administration of federal funding for students with disabilities in the Commonwealth.
The SEPP office is looking for someone with the passion and experience to provide fiscal oversite and ensure compliance to all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) as they relate to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provide general assistance with all financial and grant program oversight activities.
We seek a teammate who is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive work environment, where everyone is valued and engaged. We encourage you to apply and identify your strengths in these areas.

Learn More or Apply Today:
MassCareers Job Opportunities: Auditor IV-Special Education
In Case You Missed It
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