Each year your child’s IEP team should meet and decide if your child “qualifies” for “extended school year” (ESY) services. ESY is typically provided over the summer, when many schools have an extended break, but, it can also include smaller breaks, if the IEP team determines that it is necessary in order to provide a child with a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Extended school year services include special education services and/or related services (such as speech therapy) that may be required by an individual child in order for that child to receive a free appropriate public education – FAPE.
What is FAPE?
FAPE refers to special education and related services that are “appropriate” and individualized to each eligible child with a disability that allows them to meaningful benefit from their educational program and which is provided free by the public school system. Please note, important words such as “appropriate” and “individualized.” These two terms truly go together because for a program and related services to be “appropriate” they must necessarily be individualized to the child based on that child’s needs and current levels of performance.
How does the federal government describe extended school year?
Here is what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations say:
“Definition. As used in this section, the term extended school year services means special education and related services that–
- Are provided to a child with a disability–
- Beyond the normal school year of the public agency;
- In accordance with the child’s IEP; and
- At no cost to the parents of the child; and
- Meet the standards of the SEA.”
Each state also typically provides regulations and guidance to IEP teams regarding Extended School Year (TIP: to locate YOUR state’s regulations, use an internet search engine and search under : and extended school year regulations students with disabilities). Much that is known about Extended School Year is a result of court rulings and determinations.
What Should Be Considered for Determining ESY?
Generally speaking, the issues below have been cited in many rulings and many states list such items in their regulations for extended school year. An IEP team is making an ESY determination can consider:
Likelihood of Regression of skills
- Difficulty and Length of time to recover lost skills
- Severity of disability
- Interruption of skill acquisition during a critical period and in a skill that could affect progress in the general curriculum
- Failure to achieve IEP goals in critical skills
- Ability of caregivers to support skill maintenance at home
- Professional predictive opinions, based on child’s needs and history
- Other factors
In most states, no ONE factor can be used to determine the need for ESY services (for example, states cannot use only regression during breaks as the rationale).
Please know that ESY services are not to learn new skills or to make “maximum” progress or because of what is “best” for the child. ESY is provided so that the child receives a free “appropriate” public education.
Can children be provided with just speech therapy (a related service) as their ESY program?
Yes. ESY can include whatever the child needs and requires for FAPE as determined by their IEP team. That means special education and/or related services. ESY does not mean that the child receives the same program that they receive during the school year. An individual child COULD receive a similar program to what they receive during the school year, but only if the IEP team determines that the child needs to receive the “same program” in order to receive FAPE. A child could also receive some particular aspect of their IEP program, if, by receiving that part of their program, they will receive FAPE. The child could work on just several goals, if by working on those goals, the child will receive FAPE.
There is no “one” ESY program. Even if your school district has created an “in house” ESY program, your child’s needs may mean that they do not fit into such a program; cannot work on their IEP goals in such a program; or the complete program may be too extensive for your child’s ESY needs; or the program may not be extensive enough! For example, if your child has math goals with which they may show regression during extended breaks, difficulty recouping that skill, really severe difficulty with the skill, limited progress on IEP goals, or to interrupt their acquisition of that particular skill or goal or goals would be detrimental to their ability to receive FAPE, ESY can be provided just for math goals. Your child would not need to attend an in house school district ESY program that included reading, language, and socialization, if your child’s need for ESY were only for their math goals. Your child could receive FAPE if the ESY program only worked on the math goals. The district could provide a class in which the child would work on IEP math goals. Or the district could provide a tutor that would work on the IEP math goals. Or the district could contract with a provider that would work on IEP math goals.
Or, for example, if your child’s individual goals and need for speech therapy is such that they qualify for ESY, it does not mean that they would receive the same level of service as they do during the school year. They COULD receive the same level, if the IEP team determines that the same level is necessary for your child to receive FAPE. Or, the team may determine that a lesser degree of service would provide FAPE (i.e., that once a week of speech therapy would meet your child’s ESY needs and not the 3 times a week that they receive during the school year). Remember, the ESY program is not to help your child achieve new skills or goals. ESY is to make sure they keep the skills that they have, do not lose skills to the degree that, recovering them in the new school year, takes a longer time than is typical, etc.
There is no “one” program that is “ESY.” That is the message. Each child’s ESY program should reflect their individual goals and what is appropriate for THEM as determined by the IEP team. Remember, you are an equal member of that team!
Do All Children with Apraxia of Speech Qualify for Extended School Year?
Not necessarily. Remember, ESY decisions are based on the individual needs of each child. CAS has a real range of severity, varying child to child. Certainly children with severe to moderate apraxia should be high on the list of those considered to receive speech therapy for extended school year. We know, from research and documents of ASHA, the professional association for speech-language pathologists, that Childhood Apraxia of Speech requires intensive, individual speech therapy when a child is moderately to severely affected. Many repetitions of speech targets and shaping of speech attempts are required for children to achieve intelligible speech. Speech and communication can certainly be considered “critical skills.” Additionally, children with apraxia of speech notably may lose previously learned words or acquired sounds. The ongoing repetition of speech targets helps to solidify speech motor programs and plans. Having intelligible speech allows children with CAS to participate fully in the regular education curriculum, which is the goal of special education. Additionally, if one examines their state’s education standards, one can see that communication and expressive language are key to meeting many, many state standards. So, certainly for most children who are significantly affected by CAS, ESY should be highly considered.
What To Do
As the parent of a child with CAS, you should ask about Extended School Year services and make a request that the IEP team meet and consider your child for services. Be prepared to argue why ESY is appropriate for your particular child based on their individual needs and goals.
Be sure to review your state’s extended school year regulations and guidance to school districts so that you know what the state requires of school districts. Remember, that a child’s diagnosis does not automatically exclude them from being considered for extended school year, nor does it automatically include them.
You have the same procedural safeguard protection for ESY decisions as you do all other aspects of your child’s IEP. Depending on your state special education regulations, you may possibly request mediation to discuss a decision and/or you can file for a due process hearing.
At all times, be sure to document your phone calls and information so that you have evidence as to what information you were given, when and by whom.
Here is some other helpful information about ESY from the Wrightslaw website:
- “EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY) IS:
- Based only on the individual student’s specific critical skills that are critical to his/her overall educational progress as determined by the IEP committee.
- Designed to maintain student mastery of critical skills and objectives represented on the IEP and achieved during the regular school year.
- Designed to maintain a reasonable readiness to begin the next year.
- Based on multi-criteria and not solely on regression.
- Considered as a strategy for minimizing the regression of skill, thus shortening the time needed to gain back the same level of skill proficiency that existed at the end of the school year.
- Deliverable in a variety of environments and structures such as:
(a) Home with the parent teaching, and staff consulting
(b) School based
(c) School based with community activities
(d) Related services alone or in tandem with the above.
- EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY) IS NOT:
- It is not a mandated 12-months service for all students with disabilities.
- It is not required for the convenience of the school or parents and, therefore, cannot serve as a day care or respite care service.
It is not required or intended to maximize educational opportunities for any student with disabilities.
- It is not necessary to continue instruction on all of the previous year’s IEP goals during the ESY period; rather, the focus should be on those specific, critical skills where regression, due to an extended vacation period, may occur.
- It is not to be considered to help students with disabilities advance in relation to their peers.
- It is not for those students with disabilities who exhibit regression, which is solely related to medical problems resulting in degeneration, or transitional life situations such as divorce or death of a family member. This type of regression is not due to the interruption of summer vacation.
- It is not required solely when a child fails to achieve IEP goals and objectives during the school year.
- It is not to provide a child with education beyond that is prescribed in his/her IEP goals and objectives.”
Defining FAPE. NICHY. Accessed 01/25/2011. http://www.nichcy.org/Pages/fape.aspx
Standards for Extended School Year (ESY). Wrightslaw.com. Accessed 01/25/2011. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/esy.standards.barlev.htm