Extended School Year (ESY) special education services extend beyond the regular school year. These services are individualized special education services for students with disabilities that are determined by the IEP team. ESY services are mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order for your child to receive a free appropriate public education. IDEA defines extended school year services as special education and related services for children with disabilities that are:
- beyond the normal school year of the public agency or school district
- are in accordance with a child’s IEP
- meet the standards of the state education regulation
- are at no cost to the parent.
However, parents should remember that Extended School Year is NOT
- summer school
- an enrichment program
- compensatory service
- a continuation of your child’s entire IEP
One important thing to also to keep in mind is that ESY services do not necessarily have to occur only through the summer. ESY services may be needed beyond your child’s normal school day, ie. special tutoring program, or over holiday school breaks, in order for your child to receive free appropriate public education (FAPE).
How is my child eligible for Extended School Year (ESY) services?
Eligibility for ESY services is determined at an IEP meeting by the IEP team. Any student who is eligible to receive special education and/or related services can receive ESY services. However, this is based on the individual needs of the student. Some parents think that ESY services are automatic. This is not the case, as in some students do not need a continuation of services in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). ESY services are commonly determined by the IEP team if it is likely that the child:
- will show regression, over the break, towards previously learned skills
- is not making progress on current IEP goals and objectives
- the time required to regain previous lost skills is excessive compared to their nondisabled peers.
The IEP team considers all classroom data, teacher and parent input, and progress of goals and objectives to make a decision for ESY services. Even though these are the most commonly used criteria, every state is different since the US Department of Education has given states options on what criteria to use. So remember to check with your state’s laws and regulations. Other criteria used to determine ESY services are:
- behavior (i.e. the student exhibits behaviors that are interfering with their academic progress)
- the nature and severity of the disability (i.e. is the severity of the child’s disability hindering them from making progress?)
- special circumstances or other factors (i.e. parent input, classroom data, jeopardization of emerging skills, attendance, access to school’s curriculum)
What does ESY services look like?
Remember ESY is NOT a continuation of your child’s IEP. Only certain goals and objectives and related services are determined by the IEP team to create an instructional program for your child. As a result, every child’s ESY instructional program may look different. For example, each child’s instructional program will differ in the number hours, location, services, and skills learned during ESY. After everything is determined during the IEP meeting, all information about the services, location, hours, and goal and objectives should be listed in the IEP.
Important Points to Remember
- Again, ESY is not a continuation of your child’s IEP.
- Discuss ESY with your child’s teacher early in the year. Do not wait until late in the school year, since school districts begin planning for ESY services earlier in the year.
- Take a list with you to your child’s IEP meeting about factors and concerns that you have for ESY.
- Find out your state’s guidelines for ESY services.
- Eligibility for ESY services for a previous year, do not guarantee ESY services for a current school year. ESY is discussed each year.
- Transportation is provided for students determined by the IEP team.