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Extended School Year

ESY: ESY stands for Extended School Year

Often I hear parents say their child was turned down for more schooling during the summer Extended School Year (ESY) because their child did not have significant enough regression-recruitment to qualify for the summer program.

Because ESY services are uniquely designed to provide FAPE to students with disabilities, it is necessary to emphasize that these services are NOT:

  • based on the category of student’s disability – services must be based on the student’s unique educational needs;
  • limited to summer months;
  • mandated twelve-month services for all students with disabilities;
  • a child care service;
  • required to be provided each day and/or all hours of the school day;
  • an automatic program provision from year to year;
  • regular education summer school, compensatory services, or enrichment programs;
  • required to be provided in a traditional classroom setting;
  • a predetermined program design; and
  • a service to be provided to maximize each student’s potential.

Procedures used by local school districts to assist the IEP team in determining the need for Extended School Year services must do the following:

  • Prohibit the postponement of the decision by the IEP team regarding ESY services until after the summer in order to gather data or to determine what would happen if ESY services were not provided;
  • Should allow the decision by the IEP team regarding ESY services to be made early enough to ensure that the parents can exercise their due process rights;
  • Not pre-limit the ESY services to a set number of days, hours of service;
  • Not restrict the provision of ESY services for administrative convenience;
  • Not allow the availability of ESY services to be limited by the financial resources of the local school district; and
  • Not limit ESY services to predetermined disability categories nor categorically exclude certain students with disabilities.
Listed below are factors to be considered by the IEP team to assess the need for ESY services.
  • Critical Skills: A critical skill includes any skill determined by the IEP team to be critical to the student’s overall educational progress, including academic, social and behavior, independent living, communication, fine and large motor skills, as well as other identified skills pertinent to receiving FAPE.
  • Degree of Progress: The IEP team must review the expected degree of progress on IEP goals targeting critical skills and determine whether the student’s slow rate or lack of progress is likely to prevent the student from educational benefit during the school year without ESY services.
  • Emerging Skills/Breakthrough Opportunities: The IEP team determines whether IEP goals targeting critical skills are at a breakthrough point. At this point, the IEP team determines whether the interruption of instruction caused by a school break is likely to prevent the student from educational benefit without ESY services.
  • Regression: The IEP team can consider regression which is a substantial loss of any critical skill and reverting back to a performance level than what was previously obtained after a school break without ESY services.
  • Recoupment (Recovery): The IEP team can consider lack of recoupment which is the inability to recover a loss of critical skills in a reasonable time following a school break without ESY services. Most students without disabilities recoup skills within a few days after short breaks or a few weeks after longer breaks such as over the summer.
  • Nature and/or Severity of the Disability: The IEP team can consider if the nature and/or severity of the student’s disability is likely to prevent the student from educational benefit during the school year without ESY services.

Special Circumstances or Other Factors: The IEP team can consider special circumstances that will prevent the student from educational benefit during the school year without ESY services such as the ability of the student to interact with students without disabilities and transition needs. In determining the need for ESY services, the following discussion questions may help the IEP team:

  • Does the student need an extensive review to demonstrate previously learned skills?
  • What inconsistencies does the student demonstrate in mastered or partially acquired skills after a break in services?
  • Has the student reached a critical point of instruction or behavior management where a break in services would have serious, detrimental effects?
  • Does the student demonstrate behaviors or critical skill deficits that would cause regression if breaks in programming occur?
  • Is there a degenerative medical condition that might cause regression?
  • Will a break in programming jeopardize the student’s placement in the least restrictive environment?
If Extended School Year services are determined necessary for the student to receive FAPE and educational benefit during the regular school year, then they must be provided. To demonstrate evidence for the need for ESY services, the following types of information can be reviewed:
  • historical data;
  • review of progress or previously demonstrated mastery of IEP goals over time;
  • data on the rates and inconsistencies of both learning and relearning information and skills using standardized tests, samples of student work, and curriculum-based assessments including pre and post-tests before and after school breaks;
  • documented clinical evidence;
  • multiple observations from teachers, therapists, parents, and others having direct contact with the student who can interpret instructional implications;
  • behavior or skill-based logs;
  • attendance information;
  • expert opinions; and
  • other objective evidence.

To summarize, Extended School Year decisions are driven by student need based upon data to substantiate that FAPE would not be provided without the services. Regression and recoupment are not the only factors to determine the need for ESY. When proposing ESY, school districts must consider how to meet the individual needs of the student which may not be met in an existing special education program. The requirements relevant to the provision of special education services such as written prior notice to parents and consideration for the least restrictive environment must be followed when IEP teams consider ESY. Though every state can have slightly different rules this outlines the basics for ESY. For more information about Extended School year and other Special Education Terms to know, check out our other blog posts:

Special Education Terms to Know Part I

Special Education Terms to Know Part II

Special Education Terms to Know Part III

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