Extended School Year (ESY) is a public-school program that runs for several weeks in the summer. It is offered to some children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). ESY is determined for a child on an individual basis by the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee (which includes you, the parent).
ESY is not only for students who are failing or who didn’t meet their IEP goals. It’s also for students who may lose important skills over the summer and may take a long time regaining those skills when school begins again. This is referred to as “recoupment/regression.”
There are other things to consider when deciding if ESY would help your child. The law requires the IEP team to consider whether the student is in the middle of learning a new skill. The team must assess whether a window of opportunity for learning would be lost over the summer. The question that needs to be answered is, “Does the child need ESY to receive a free and appropriate public education?”
ESY programs are not one-size-fits-all. For example, a set program offered for three weeks from 9 a.m. until noon in a large group setting may not be right for every child. The IEP team should be flexible when thinking about each student’s needs. Some children may only need to work on social skills over the summer. Others may only need academic. Some may need a combination of both.
ESY doesn’t always have to be on the school campus. Schools may provide services in other locations, like community summer programs or camps. Some students may benefit from programs provided in a community setting, private school, or therapy center. The traditional ESY program at the school may be a great fit for your child, but not always.
One summer, my son went to our district’s ESY program. After seeing him in this setting, I decided that it was not a good fit for him. There were too many children with very different needs and not enough teachers and paraprofessionals. There was no time for him to work on his individual IEP goals.
The following year, we came up with a better plan for ESY. A trained paraprofessional that worked well with my son was paid to come to our home. Together they worked on his specific IEP goals one-on-one. Now that was “thinking outside of the box”—and it was appropriate!
Parents know their children best. If you feel your child can’t afford to take a long break from learning over the summer, then start taking notes. How does your child do when they return to school after short breaks? Do they have a hard time getting back to the routines of school? Do you see unwanted behaviors crop back up? Does it seem like they have forgotten or lost skills that they had recently mastered? Keep your own data so that you can be an informed member of the IEP team when it is time to discuss ESY.
See the Texas Education Agency website for more information on Extended School Year Services for Students with Disabilities http://tea.texas.gov/index2.aspx?id=2147500952.
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