Extended School Year

August 4, 2022 by Chloe Palmer

What is Extended School Year?

Extended School Year (ESY) is educational services for students with disabilities that take place outside of the standard 180-day school year. If ESY is necessary for the student to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), then these services must be provided in accordance with the student’s IEP and at no cost to the student. ESY is most commonly provided for a period over summer break, but may happen during any school break, such as winter or spring break. ESY is not a daycare service or summer school, it is specialized instruction for students with disabilities that focuses on IEP goals and objectives.

Who qualifies for ESY?

Every student with a disability should be considered for ESY each school year. The IEP team should determine if ESY services are necessary for each particular student. In Ohio, this determination is based on 2 primary factors:

  1. Regression and Recoupment - Does the student have a measurable decrease in skills or behaviors during instructional breaks? Can the student recover lost skills and progress following an instructional break in a reasonable amount of time? Students who regress faster than other students or take longer to recover that loss are more likely to meet the qualifications for ESY.
  2. Free and Appropriate Public Education - Would a failure to provide ESY prevent the child from receiving a free and appropriate public education?

Each district may also develop their own ESY policy in addition to the Ohio policy. You should review your districts ESY policy to understand what factors your district will be looking at when making an ESY determination. Some of these factors may include:

  • Severity of disability. Generally, the more severe a student’s disability, the more likely they are to qualify for ESY.
  • Self-sufficiency/independence. Is a particular IEP goal/skill crucial for the student’s independence from caretakers? (ex. IEP goal in which the student will independently feed themselves solid foods using a spoon)
  • Goal achievement. Is the student at a critical point in the learning process for a certain goal, in which an instructional break would cause a large set back?
  • Age. Is the student at a critical age for a particular goal, in which a breakthrough opportunity would be lost by instructional break?
  • Behavioral need. ESY can be especially beneficial for students with behavioral needs. These students often need extra time, because behaviors can disrupt their academic instruction. ESY provides an opportunity for consistent and positive behavior reinforcement and supports, so the student can return to school ready to learn after break.

How to request ESY for your student

If you believe your student should qualify for ESY, then you should inform your school in writing, preferably via email. The earlier you request ESY, the more time the district will have to collect data on your student’s progress and educational needs, which you can use to help make your argument for ESY.

Ask the district to collect data specifically related to instructional breaks (i.e. winter or spring break), and IEP progress. Note any problems your student has during or following these breaks. This information can demonstrate whether or not your student has regressed over break, and if they have particular trouble recouping the knowledge and skills lost during their break.

Ask for an IEP meeting, or request that ESY be discussed in detail at an already scheduled IEP meeting. The district must consider ESY for every student with a disability, but making your preference for ESY known before the meeting will allow the district to collect proper data. If the district agrees to provide ESY services, make sure it is documented in the IEP with specifics, including frequency/type of service, and which IEP goals the services will be for.

More information

For more information on ESY standards and requesting ESY, visit Disability Rights Ohio’s FAQ on Extended School Year here. If you believe your child qualifies for services but cannot get the school to agree, you can contact the Ohio Department of Education for assistance or to file a complaint here.

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