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Grant Opportunity: Enhancing Social and Emotional Skills in Students with IEPs (ES3) Three Year Grant

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Special Education team will begin accepting applications for the Enhancing Social and Emotional Skills in Students with IEPs (ES3) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) discretionary grant on February 26, 2024.

The goal of the ES3 Three Year grant is to provide public school districts with the structures and processes to identify and support the beliefs, skills, and systems needed to improve academic and functional outcomes for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This is done through direct, ongoing support and a prescribed action plan. The focus population for this grant is students with IEPs that present with significantly divergent social and emotional learning needs. This may include students identified for special education as having autism, an emotional behavioral disability, an other health impairment, or other students with IEPs with social and emotional disability-related needs. This goal is achieved by enhancing existing district-level initiatives with the support of embedded coaching to improve outcomes for students with IEPs. Districts receiving this grant are directly supported by a statewide coordinator and dedicated district coordinator who will guide district and school based teams through coaching, training, and resources to implement evidence-based improvement strategies to support the growth of both students and educators. Selected districts will be awarded three years of grant funding based on meeting grant activity requirements. Four grant awards are available.

The deadline to apply for this grant is midnight on April 26, 2024.

Application Instructions:

Questions regarding the ES3 Three Year Grant may be directed to Eva Shaw at


Definition in State Rule: Autism

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting a child's social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects learning and educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance. PI 11.36 (8)(a), Wis. Admin. Code

Incidence and Disproportionality


For the 2022-2023 school year, 15,207 students (1.8%) of total public school enrollment (822,804 students) were identified as having autism. The 15,207 students with autism made up 12.4% of all students with IEPs (122,187). In Wisconsin, IEP teams are not required to identify secondary or tertiary impairment areas and are only required to submit a “reporting” disability and may also report an “other” disability category. Thus the number of students identified as having an “other” disability category of autism is not reflected in this data. Approximately 82% of all students identified with autism were male and 18% were female.

To view additional data including district level information, go to the WI DPI public WISEdash portal.


In Wisconsin, like many other states, we see district data demonstrating race-based patterns of identification for some impairment areas compared to others. Although districts rarely demonstrate these patterns in the area of autism, as an equity issue, we strongly encourage all districts to disaggregate their special education data to ensure evaluation practices and procedures are culturally responsive and address bias when conducting and analyzing assessments used to make eligibility decisions. Go to the DPI Culturally Responsive Problem Solving web page for more information.

Autism Criteria

Autism Criteria

§300.304 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines two purpose of special education evaluations (i) Whether the child is a child with a disability; and (ii) The content of the child’s IEP, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or for a preschool child, to participate in appropriate activities). The disability category criteria IEP forms only assist IEP teams with (i) and are not sufficient in completing an evaluation and developing a student’s IEP. To ensure compliance with implementing a full, individual, and comprehensive evaluation, go to the Wisconsin DPI Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation web page.

Worksheets and Guidelines

Other Special Education Resources

We encourage you to sign up for our email list. Directions on how to sign up can be found on the DPI email lists web page. Scroll down to Special Education and click on “collabsupportlist."