What is Extended School Year (ESY)?

Luz Adriana

March 29, 2016


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Why advocate? Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Noting is going to get better. It’s not – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Adriana - ESY

ESY or Extended School Year is an option open to any student who receives Special Education services, however not all of them may be eligible.


What does IDEA say about ESY? According to Sec. 300.106 Extended school year services:

(a) General.

(1) Each public agency must ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide FAPE, consistent with paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(2) Extended school year services must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, in accordance with Sec. Sec. 300.320 through 300.324, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) to the child.

(3) In implementing the requirements of this section, a public agency may not–

(i) Limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability; or

(ii) Unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services.

(b) Definition. As used in this section, the term extended school year services means special education and related services that–

(1) Are provided to a child with a disability–

(i) Beyond the normal school year of the public agency;

(ii) In accordance with the child’s IEP; and

(iii) At no cost to the parents of the child; and

(2) Meet the standards of the SEA (State Educational agencies or State Department of education).


If it sounds confusing, you are not alone. Let’s see if we can break this down into usable information.

How can my child qualify for ESY?


The services your child with special needs is receiving were decided and developed by the IEP team, so will be the decision of whether or not your child will qualify for ESY. The team will look at a variety of factors for example:

  • Availability of resources
  • How the child is progressing towards his/her goals (rate of progress)
  • The degree of impairment
  • Does the child have any behavioral and/or physical problems
  • Can the parents provide the structure the child needs at home
  • Does the student need transitional or vocational needs
  • Does the student have the ability to access the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and interact with non-disabled peers
  • The fact that a student received ESY the year prior does not mean they qualify for ESY in the current year or in the future.


What the data tells us

One of the factors that often qualify a child to receive ESY is the child’s regression during school breaks. Here is my take on doing that:

  • Have work samples from the end of the last time the child was in school
  • Have work samples from the beginning of the school year
  • Have work samples from the week before the first school break – many schools now have a fall break before winter break
  • Have work samples from after the break

These work samples will be able to show the team if the child had any type of regression during the breaks as well as show the team how long it took the child to get back to the level that they were before the break. These two stages are called Regression and Recoupment. The level of regression must be relatively extreme to qualify for ESY services.


Another point that is taken into consideration is the nature and severity of the student’s disability. While having a disability or a specific type of a disability alone does not qualify the child to receive special education services, the IEP team may look at what would happen to the student and his or her ability to benefit from education if they are away from instruction or school and the supports they receive in the school.


Other students may qualify because they are at a point where they are almost reaching a goal. The IEP team then will decide if the student is at a point where the interruption of services and instruction would it adversely impact or jeopardize the specialized instruction or related service or services the student is receiving.


Likewise, the IEP team may consider the student whose behavior(s) interfere with his or her access to education. If the student has a hard time with this, the IEP team may consider that not maintaining those services during ESY will again significantly jeopardize the educational benefit during the next school year.


Additionally, the IEP team may look at LRE as we mentioned before. If the student was not allowed or able to participate with non-disabled peers during the break, would this affect how they performed when they came back to school? (Would they be able to keep up with the classroom pace, have no meltdowns because they were with non-disabled peers?) How long would it take for the student to be in a different educational

before they are back at the same level as they were before the break?


When we look at vocational and transition goals, it does not mean exclusively from High school to adult services. Many children can benefit from transition services from elementary to middle school, as well as from middle school to high school. This last one is what we did with our daughter. She went from a partial self contained classroom where she moved from class to class with the guidance of a teacher or a para-professional to High school where she was going to have to navigate independently from class to class.  During the IEP the team decided that our daughter would attend the High school to work on orientation and mobility throughout the building. Since she had a schedule that included general education as well as special education services and she had to go to the health office to take care of her diabetic needs, it was important for the team that she knew her way around the building, For other students, this may mean working at their new job or trying out one of their preferred vocational activities to see if said activity is a match with their goals.


As you can see, what is important about ESY is that we talk to our team. Remember that you can call for an IEP meeting anytime you want to discuss adding, modifying or deleting  a  service to your child’s program. Talk to the teachers and see what they suggest. Communication is the key to advocating for the services we want our children to receive.

Luz Adriana

My name is Luz Adriana Martinez and for the past 27 years I have been working in the field of advocacy for children with disabilities. I hold an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. I'm married to a great guy, Tito, an Army Veteran of 22 years, who supports all the crazy things I do. Being an Army wife also prepared us to be always on the move and without daddy for long periods of time. This also gave me the opportunity work and volunteer with organizations whose mission was to assist other military families. This blog results from my desire to give back to the many families that have given me and mine so much. I have had the fortune to be able to travel the world assisting military families and now that that stage of my life is over, I want to continue to share what I have learned in the hopes that I can still provide some information and resources to families who need it.

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