by Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
Extended school year (ESY) is a summer program for students who have disabilities
which are more severe in nature. The program provides special-education instruction/services
to help students who are at significant risk of regression or “losing ground” for
skills acquired during the school year. ESY is different from summer school—ESY
is an extension of the typical 180-day school year for students who have identified
special needs and individualized educational plans.
ESY instruction may take place outside of a student’s home school, possibly at another
school building in the district. Transportation to and from ESY may be a parent’s
responsibility. As well, a student may receive services from different instructors
than those he/she had during the school year. ESY is different from a regular school
day—instruction is generally a few hours a day, for a few weeks out of the summer.
Who Qualifies for Extended School Year?
Students qualify for ESY for different reasons, and not all students qualify for
ESY. In general, students with significant needs are eligible for ESY if educators
and parents determine a student is likely to regress to the extent he/she cannot
recover learned skills in a reasonable amount of time after summer break. Another
reason for ESY placement is a student being close to making a breakthrough with
a skill(s). Working on goals already in progress and being at a critical point of
development are other considerations. The importance of the key academic skills,
such as reading, is another factor.
Qualifying for ESY varies from state to state and even between school systems. Meeting
as a team—parents, therapists, teachers, administrators—is important to determine
a student’s eligibility. The team can discuss the student’s progress and needs.
Specific topics to discuss include severity of the disorder/disability, behavioral
needs, history of regression over breaks, and age. Students may qualify in one or
more areas, like special education, speech/language therapy, or occupational therapy.
If a student qualifies for ESY, the instruction/services are individualized to his/her
needs in order to maximize learning success.