Extended School Year Service vs. Summer School
There are different options for summer programs offered by public schools. One of which is Extended School Year services (ESY), a special education program that is put in place by a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. Summer school is an option for all students to continue their learning in the months school is not in session.
Extended School Year
Extended School Year is set forth as a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires that ESY services “…must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of Fair Appropriate Public Education [FAPE] to the child.” The common criteria used by IEP teams to determine whether a child is in need of Extended School Year services go beyond solely regression and recoupment of skills learned during the regular school year. They include: the child’s degree of progress toward IEP goals, whether the child will lose key skills due to the lengthy summer break, the nature and severity of the disability, or any subject the IEP team deems necessary to continue teaching outside of normal school hours in order to reach IEP goals.
For example, in the state of Maryland Extended School Year services are taken into consideration using the following codes:
· Whether the student’s IEP includes annual goals related to critical life skills and how close the student is to reaching them
· The likelihood of substantial regression of critical life skills caused by the normal school break and a possible failure to recoup those lost skills in a reasonable time
· The proximity of the child mastering the goals established in his or her IEP
· Interfering behaviors
· The presence of emerging skills or breakthrough opportunities
· The nature and severity of the disability(s)
· Other special circumstances
If the child qualifies for ESY services by the IEP team, then the services will be provided at no cost to the parents. A main difference between Summer School and ESY services is that ESY is individualized based on the child’s agreed upon IEP. Each state has a different set of regulations and statutes regarding ESY services, and should be reviewed before requesting Extended School Year services at an IEP meeting. These files may be obtained from your State Department of Education. An aggregated page of their contact information can be found here. ESY services are not provided to advance a student with special needs past his or her peers, but are only agreed upon in order to keep the student up with his or her prescribed coursework as per their IEP and school standards.
Summer school is a program that is not individualized and is often offered for many students who have failed courses and are in need of remediation. ESY services are only provided to students with special needs whereas summer school is provided to every student that wants to participate or must in order to receive class credit and graduate. Summer school may also be offered to students who want to advance past their current pace and take classes in addition to their normal school year course load. Some students may do this in order to take an interesting class, skip a grade, or earn college credits. Summer school classes are oftentimes taken to boost one’s GPA, and are sometimes used to replace a poor grade earned during the school year, depending on the rules of the school or service offering the summer school course.
ESY services and summer school should be treated as completely different courses of action for parents. ESY services are individualized to address specific concerns about the child’s possible regression of critical skills and is not meant for the child to advance past their required skillsets. Conversely, summer school is not individualized and is available for a student in order to remediate certain skills or classes or to advance past their current education track. In order to have ESY services included in an IEP, the rules for developing this plan for a child must be taken into consideration before discussion in an IEP meeting. Rules for qualification of ESY services are different in each state, and a copy of your state’s Department of Education regulations should be deliberated on before deciding to seek Extended School Year services for your child. Every child has different educational needs, and Extended School Year services can be a great way to address them if you feel your child is near a breakthrough in their IEP goals or may lose critical life skills over the summer break. Summer school is also a great opportunity for retaining knowledge, but it’s non-individualized teaching style may not be the best decision for your child. If you would like additional information in regard to requesting Extended School Year services to be included in your child’s IEP, feel free to contact our office to set up a consultation or schedule a training opportunity.