All About Extended School Year Services in Special Education
Some students in special education are eligible for what’s known as Extended School Year (ESY) services, which are provided beyond the school year (e.g., in the summer) to students in keeping with their IEPs.
What is Extended School Year (ESY)?
Extended School Year Services (ESY) are educational services that are extended outside of a traditional school year and are offered to children who are receiving special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These services are part of the specialized instruction or related services a student would normally receive as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP). These services are provided at no cost to the parent. Services are determined and provided based on the child’s needs. Often services are provided during the summer and may differ in duration and schedule depending on the needs of your child and your district or charter school’s schedule.
Who Qualifies for these Services?
Extended School Year Services are offered to children who qualify for an IEP. However, not all children with an IEP will need ESY. The decision to offer your child ESY services is an IEP team decision and can be determined by the state, district or charter school standards for eligibility. The primary goal of ESY services is to maintain the current level of the student’s academic, functional skills and behavior in areas identified by the student’s IEP. These services are available to preschool, elementary, secondary students (middle school, junior high or high school) and may include post-high students (Utah law defines this as any student who has not graduated with a regular high school diploma or Utah Adult Secondary Diploma and continues with educational services and programs available to them through their IEP until the end of the school year the student turns 22 years old.)
How Can Your Child Qualify for ESY Services?
Your child’s eligibility is based on many factors, including:
- Regression of skills, based on data collected during school breaks
- How long does it take to recoup the skills lost over the breaks
- Degree of impairment
- Ability of parents to provide educational structure at home
- Rate of progress
- Physical or behavioral problems
- Availability of alternate resources
- Ability to interact with typical children
- Areas of the curriculum that need continuous attention
- Vocational needs
- Whether the requested service is extraordinary to the condition
What ESY Services Are NOT?
- Not a childcare service
- Not a continuation of IEP services provided during the regular school year
- Not intended to teach new skills; intended to help the child keep the skills they’ve already acquired
- Not an automatic program for your child to participate in year after year
- Not mandated for all children with an IEP
Please keep in mind that eligibility for ESY is an IEP team decision. The above factors are things for the IEP team to consider and discuss when determining whether or not your child is eligible for extended school year services.
What if My Child is Not Eligible for ESY?
Not all students with an IEP are eligible for ESY. Your child’s eligibility and prior written notice of ESY services will be provided to you with enough time to allow you to access dispute resolution options outlined in the Procedural Safeguards. If your child is not eligible for ESY services, your child can still participate in summer school programs available through your school district. A parent may opt to enroll their child in these summer school programs and activities. However, these programs, described below, may require a cost to the parent. A parent can also work on IEP goals at home during the summer.
Action Tips for Parents and Caregivers:
- Obtain a copy of any ESY determination guidelines. Rule R277-751 for Utah is provided by USBE at this link here.
- It may be necessary to ask in writing for your team to meet specifically to discuss the eligibility and the potential need for these services for your child. Make your request in writing and be sure to invite key members of your IEP team to your request.
- List factors that you feel should be considered so you can be prepared to share them with your IEP team.
More resources on this topic can be found below:
- A great short Youtube clip on ESY explained
- Understood.org and ESY
- Center for Parent Information and Resources