From the Director

February 2020

Special Education Heroes

Congratulations to the following individuals who have been named our February Special Education Superheroes!

Abby Ebinger- Abby was nominated by Amanda Sullivan. Amanda had the following to say about Abby, “Abby has dedicated her professional life to inspiring and empowering her students in Jennings County. Abby has worked in a self-contained classroom for students with Emotional Disabilities for over thirteen years. During this time she helped her students develop social skills, coping skills, and executive functioning skills that allowed them to transition back into the general education classroom with success. Abby embodied what Trauma-Informed Care was before it was a well-known term. The compassion and sensitivity that she expressed daily when working with students was a joy to witness. This year, the school cooperation had a staff member resign after just 3 weeks in a challenging positon. Abby was asked by the school administration if she could step in and take the position until a qualified replacement could be found. Without hesitation, Abby responded, “how can I help?” Abby is a true Special Education Hero.”

Joni Bassett Joni was nominated by Annie Alcorn for her dedication to students. Joni travels among schools to work with our students on the Autism Spectrum. She is a pro at teaching students in the moment and helping students script for the future. She is a tireless advocate for these students. Her ability to help adults re-frame when their frustration levels are high is widely admired. She has a positive approach to all she encounters, and looks at life in terms of how she can benefit others. Her smile lights a room; her laugh is contagious. She can always see the humor in something and most often brings others around to her perspective.

Danielle Dubash- Cyrus Dubash nominated Danielle for the Special Education Hero Award. For decades, Danielle has worked tirelessly to provide students with special needs with top quality services in mathematics and more. Danielle specializes in providing math instruction at all levels. For well over 20 years, Danielle’s passion has been working with adolescents with special needs earn their high school Core 40 diploma. As we in the field realize, earning this diploma can be a tough assignment, and math is often a stumbling block for many of our students. Regardless of the student’s position in life or academic goals and abilities, Danielle has shown she cares a lot about her students. She works with families to find creative solutions to complex issues that could prevent the students from giving up. Danielle has been the hero of countless students over the years.

Gail Morgan- Janice Oakley nominated Gail for the Special Education Hero Award. Gail teaches students with severe and moderate intellectual disabilities at the elementary level. She is a patient and an understanding educator. Gail is dedicated to giving students the tools and guidance to achieve their potential and to strive to progress beyond their limitations. Her daily communication with parents has a powerful impact on student success. She has encouraged her students to be actively involved in Unified Champions which promotes play and learning for a more inclusive environment. Janice shares, “Gail is a very deserving candidate for Special Hero of the Month because she possesses all the qualities needed to teach students with exceptional needs.”

Shelby Dalton - Shelby was nominated by Julie Copeland. She is a Behavior Instructional Assistant in the Behavior Support Program for students with Emotional Disabilities at Delaware Trail Elementary in Brownsburg. Shelby came into this job a few years ago with little experience; however, she asked questions, took feedback, and has developed into a confident and essential component of this program. Her positive attitude and hardworking demeanor is contagious. The students and staff of our school love being around Shelby. Shelby is a true hero because she is a hero every day. Ask any student in this program, Mrs. Dalton is always there for them. Julie shares, “Indiana schools need more people like Shelby who do whatever is needed for kids every day.”

Do you know a Special Education staff member who should be recognized as a Special Education Hero? Nominate them here.

Indiana Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Announces their 2020 Award Recipients!

Each year the CEC honors individuals in the field who have contributed to the mission of the Indiana Council of Exceptional Children (INCEC).

This year, Office of Special Education's former Assistant Director, Nancy Zemaitis was honored for her years of service to individuals with disabilities through her work with Vocational Rehabilitation and Indiana Department of Education. It is the Office of Special Education's pleasure to share INCEC awarded Nancy the "2020 Distinctive Service Award".

Additionally, the following individuals were also recognized for their contributions:

Jenny Snyder, AWS Foundation -"2020 Outstanding Advocate of the Year"

Dr. Cheryl Bremer - "2020 Outstanding Professor of the Year"

Hannah Rose - "2020 Outstanding Student Member of the Year"

Jennifer Nichols, MSD Wayne Township - "2020 Outstanding Administrator of the Year"

Emily Alaimo, MSD Washington Township, "2020 Outstanding Teacher of the Year"

Kyndal Gary - "2020 Yes I Can!" Award

Census 2020 Resources

The upcoming U.S. Census will determine the federal funding Indiana schools receive. The Indiana Department of Education has created a resource for superintendents, teachers, and families. Learn more here:

FEDERAL GUIDANCE: Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) POLICY LETTER

The United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), makes available policy letters related to special education matters. The OSEP policy letter dated November 22, 2019, Letter to Breeskin, addresses the role of parents in determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, including how far from home the child will be educated.

Upcoming transition professional development opportunities survey.

The Office of Special Education is looking for input on what professional development opportunities the field would like to participate in relation to the area of transition from school to post school. To provide feedback, please fill out a Google form by clicking here.

Charting the LifeCourse Framework: Building a foundation for individuals with disabilities and their families to achieve their vision of a good life.

Charting the LifeCourse Framework was developed to help individuals with disabilities, and their families develop a vision for a good life while exploring opportunities, experiences, and supports necessary to achieve that vision. The core belief is that all people have the right to live, love, learn, work, play, and pursue their life aspirations just as others do in their community. This core belief along with the guiding principles and values challenge all systems and services who support individuals with disabilities, and their families to think differently about what it means to provide support and how services are delivered.

The educational service system can have a significant impact in the trajectory of a person’s life. The experiences we have as a child and young adult influence the decisions we make, and our ability to achieve positive outcomes. The conversations that parents have with their child’s teachers, related service professionals, and school administrators shape their expectations for their child’s future. The child or young adult with a disability hear those messages of expectations which then become part of their social and emotional development. The LifeCourse Framework gives individuals, families, and professionals a groundwork to having strength based conversations that result in meaningful positive outcomes.

The guiding principles state that:

· The good life for ALL envisions that the individual with a disability will achieve self-determination, interdependence, productivity, integration, and inclusion in all facets of life. To achieve this we must support families in ways that maximize their capacity, strengths, and unique abilities.

· People exist and have give-and-take roles with a family system. These roles can change with age and circumstance. Every family and their experiences are unique to them. Understanding and recognizing a family’s culture and values allow for considerations that will enhance the conversation and provide opportunities that will propel them towards their vision of a good life.

· Planning for present and future life outcomes should take into account all facets of life and include experiences that build self-determination, social capital, economic sufficiency and community inclusion.

· People lead whole lives made up of specific, connected and integrated life domains that are important to a good quality life. Those domains include: daily life and employment; community living; safety and security; healthy living; social and spirituality; and citizenship and advocacy.

· It is important to help people have positive, healthy experiences, adequate support, and ample opportunities to learn and make mistakes so that they can have better outcomes later in life.

· Everyone accesses a variety of supports to make it through their day. This can include personal strengths and assets, technology, relationships, community supports and eligibility specific supports. By moving our thinking beyond just eligibility specific supports we allow for greater success and a more fulfilled life.

The LifeCourse Framework has a number of resources and tools available for free download. These resources and tools support families, individuals, and professionals in developing their vision for a good life, explore integrated support options, and think about specific areas of life during all life stages. These tools and resources can be used to guide the conversation, planning for the future, problem solving and aide to resolve conflicts. For more information visit

To speak with the Indiana State Facilitator of LifeCourse contact Heather Dane at

Disproportionality Update for Discipline

Informal early notices of Significant Disproportionality for DISCIPLINE ONLY were emailed to twelve Special Education Directors the week of February 10. One district received a notice of Reasonable Progress. If your LEA did not receive a notice, then you are not out of compliance for Significant Disproportionality for DISCIPLINE ONLY and do not have to use 15 percent of your Part B 611 and 619 funds for Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS).

A formal notice of Significant Disproportionality for Discipline, Identification, and/or LRE will be sent the first week of May.

Indicators 4a and/or 4b

Data on Indicator 4a and/or 4b (significant discrepancy in discipline) was emailed to three directors the week of February 10th. In May, these districts will participate in file and policy/procedure reviews which will inform their status of compliance. If your LEA did not receive a notice, then you will not participate in the reviews and will not be out of compliance for indicators 4a and/or 4b for next November’s RDA designations. Please note this informal notice of disproportionality is not the same as the notice of significant disproportionality that mandates reserving 15% of Part B funds for Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS).

A formal notice of Significant Discrepancy (Indicator 4a and/or 4b) for Discipline, Identification, and/or LRE will be sent the first week of May.

Please email Kristan Sievers-Coffer at if you have any questions or concerns.

Updates from the Office of Assessment

Confirm Student Accommodations in the Indiana IEP - Share with Educators!

The Office of Special Education alongside PCG (the vendor for Indiana IEP (IIEP) recently reviewed IEPs and Service Plans. In the review, a large number of errors were found that require updates prior to testing. Special Education directors received direct notification from PCG about these errors. It is imperative that accommodations are verified now to ensure that all accommodations are correctly selected and saved in Indiana IEP (and therefore reflected in TIDE) before administering tests, including ILEARN Biology, ISTEP+ Retest, I AM, IREAD-3 and ILEARN. Review the directions provided. Any questions should be directed to the general line at


ILEARN Language Setting: Stacked Spanish Translation Systems Update - Share with Educators!

A dependency between the Text-to-Speech (Accommodation) and Language (Designated Feature) within AIR’s online Test Delivery System (TDS) Test Administrator (TA) Interface was recently identified which requires a change to be made before the ILEARN Winter Biology ECA test window opens. The change will make the Language setting viewable in the TA Interface, but no longer editable. Test Coordinators and TAs can continue to verify and modify the Language setting within the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE), but will no longer be able to edit the setting within the TA Interface prior to a student testing. TAs will need to ensure that students have the appropriate Language set in TIDE prior to testing. Contact AIR’s Indiana Assessment Help Desk at 866-298-4256 or with questions on verifying and modifying the Language setting within TIDE.

Winter 2020 ILEARN Biology End-of-Course Assessment (ECA) Test Window Continues

Students completing the high school Biology course at second trimester should participate in the Winter 2020 Biology ECA test window (February 10-27). CTCs must report any formal accommodations via the Indiana IEP (IIEP), DOE-TA, and/or the Indiana ILP (IILP) before students begin testing. CTCs must place requests for any accommodated paper tests in AIR’s Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE) via the Additional Order window, now open through Thursday, February 13. Contact the AIR Indiana Assessment Help Desk ( if you have questions.


Share with Educators! Confirm Student Accommodations in Indiana IEP (IIEP) to Ensure Successful Test Administration

IIEP allows schools to select multiple options for read aloud accommodations. Therefore, schools should confirm only one is marked to ensure the proper administration of I AM. Please see this memo for additional details about these accommodations and how they are routed in TIDE. For questions regarding I AM accommodations, please contact Karen Davies at or 317-232-2079.

Share with Educators! Registration for I AM Question and Answer Sessions Now Available on I AM Portal

IDOE and AIR will be hosting two I AM Question and Answer sessions. These sessions will take place on March 26 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. ET and March 30 from 4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET. They are available to educators and administrators with questions regarding I AM. Questions will be submitted via the registration process. Registration is now available on the I AM Portal. Questions about these sessions can be communicated to Stephanie Thompson at

High School

ISTEP+ Spring 2020 Retest Window Opens Monday, February 3

Students may participate in the online ISTEP+ Spring 2020 Retest beginning February 3 through February 28. Paper testing may occur today through February 21. Both Mathematics and English/Language Arts retest flags in TIDE have been removed for students who passed the Winter 2019 ISTEP+ assessment.

ISTEP+ Spring 2020 FTA: Adjusted Mathematics Test Times

IDOE adjusted published ISTEP+ Spring 2020 FTA test times for three online Mathematics test sections in an effort to provide maximum time for student responses. Review this memo for more information.

Online Reporting System (ORS) Tip

There are four ISTEP+ test administrations available in the ORS for this school year. When viewing scores in the ORS for ISTEP+ assessments, be sure to check which test administration is selected from the drop-down menu and update the selection if needed. See the screenshot for an example.

ISTEP+ Spring 2020 First Time Administration Part 1 Paper Materials

ISTEP+ Spring 2020 First Time Administration (FTA) Part 1 paper materials arrived in corporations Monday, February 10. Please inventory these materials and request any additional materials needed through a TIDE additional order beginning February 11. See the TIDE User Guide page 20 for directions for placing additional orders.


WIDA ACCESS Test Window Is Open through February 28!

The WIDA ACCESS test window is open through February 28. Per ESSA, all identified English learners (ELs) are required to participate in the annual English language proficiency assessment. Please utilize the following contact information if assistance is needed during the test window:




Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Student Assessment

State assessment policy and procedures questions, participation requirements, accommodations guidance, testing irregularities, test security concerns

(317) 232-9050

(888) 544-7837

WIDA Client Services Center

WIDA Secure Portal, certification and training courses, test administration procedures, WIDA Standards

(866) 276-7735

DRC Customer Support

WIDA AMS functionality (student and test management); technology setup; technical issues and troubleshooting; test materials (receipt/inventory/return of materials, additional orders, labels, damaged materials, transcription)

(855) 787-9615

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2020 Special Education Fiscal Road Show Save the Date!

This spring the Office of Special Education Fiscal Road Show is coming to a school district near you! Mark your calendars now and watch for OSE Moodle community announcements with full details and registration information. Please plan to bring your local special ed fiscal team – Special Ed Director, Assistant Director(s), Business Officer or Treasurer, Part B Grant Coordinator, Medicaid and/or Special Education Excess Cost (SEEC) Coordinator(s) – to one of these targeted professional development opportunities regarding special education fiscal requirements, recent program changes, updates, and technical assistance. These full-day trainings will include sessions on:

→ Part B Grants, including 611 and 619 grant application completion, submission, approval, and audit documentation; calculating local and state Maintenance of Effort (“MOE”); budgeting allowable expenditures per scope for Non-Public Proportionate Share, Special Education, and Voluntary “CEIS”/Coordinated Early Intervening Services;

→ School Medicaid Claiming, including Medicaid Administrative Claiming (“Indiana MAC”) sign up and quarterly claiming requirements, as well as Medicaid provider enrollment and fee-for-service billing for direct medical services (STAY TUNED… by spring 2020, medical claiming may expand to include more than IEP-required services!); and

→ Special Education Excess Cost (SEEC) Fund, including SEEC application and reimbursement processes and timelines.

Please save the date for one of these Special Education Fiscal RoadShow locations near you!

Thursday, April 9 – MSD Lawrence Township, Indianapolis

Friday, April 17 – New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools, New Albany

Wednesday, April 22 – Whitko Community School Corporation, Larwill

Tuesday, April 28 – Lebanon Community School Corporation, Lebanon

Indiana Resource Network (IRN) Updates

Practical Tools for Educating the Whole Child: Promoting Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health

Date: June 22-25

Bloomington High School North – Bloomington, IN

While the Whole Child Summit focuses on systemic and district level work, the Summer Institute will give educators tools they can utilize immediately in the educational setting. Using MTSS as the overarching framework, attendees will gain knowledge and information on topics related to mental health and social emotional learning. The Summer Institute will be a time for attendees to gather information, and reflect and collaborate with others on developing a plan for their educational settings.

For additional information, contact Cathy Pratt at, or visit: or

Sponsored by the The Indiana School Mental Health Initiative (ISMHI) and The Center on Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL) at Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University – Bloomington

Project SUCCESS Updates

  • The Model Site Summit will be on March 11 with a Primary Session: 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. and Secondary Session: 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Greenwood Middle School, 1584 Averitt Road, Greenwood, IN 46143.

Register here:

Questions? Contact Mary Baker-Boudissa,

Sign up for "PS: Did You Know?" Newsletter

Upcoming Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Roundtables:

March 3 - Central DHH Roundtable, New Palestine

April 8 - North Central DHH Roundtable, Lafayette

May 1 -Northeast DHH Roundtable, Fort Wayne


Save the date for Tech Expo 2020!

The PATINS Project is teaming up with IN*SOURCE for Tech Expo 2020!

When: Thursday, April 9 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Where: 502 East Event Centre, Carmel, IN

For more information see the PDF flyer!

Register for a no-cost ticket before March 19!

Other Updates from The PATINS Project:

The PATINS Project shares its newest addition for your school’s Accessible Educational Materials Resources (AEM) to adopt as you provide AEM regarding Closed captioning. Closed captioning and transcripts should be integrated seamlessly into the school district’s curated and purchased media materials to make the curriculum accessible for all students. Please share this sample policy language with your school administrators to amend your AEM policy. Contact Katie Taylor at regarding any questions you may have about captioning/transcripts. If you have additional questions about AEM or would like to request training, please complete this - Accessible Educational Materials Consultation Form.

Learn more about the Indiana Resource Network!

Several participants in the Indiana Resource Network (IRNs) have created overview videos to share what resources and trainings they offer to Indiana public schools. To view the videos, click here. Be sure to check back on the IRN page of the Office of Special Education website as more overview videos will be added!

Upcoming Events with the Office of Special Education and the Indiana Resource Networks (IRNs)

Each week the IRNs host free and/or low cost professional development opportunities across the state (or virtually). Please take a minute to view the various sessions and locations.