For some students, the provision of a free appropriate public education(FAPE) means extending instruction and related services beyond the typical school year. An extended school year program must be provided for any student with disabilities who is eligible for such services,and the determination of eligibility to provide such services is made annually by the IEP team. Preparation for the determination must begin early in the school year in order to carefully collect the data that will be needed in order to make an accurate determination. Teachers collect data relating to specific skills and behaviors that have been identified on the current Individualized Education Plan (IEP), just as they would to determine if appropriate progress is being made during the school year. The decision of whether or not a child is eligible is determined by a student’s ability to maintain learned skills identified on the IEP during the typical school year.
Programs and Services
Extended School Year (ESY) services are:
- to maintain learned skills, not develop new skills
- to target goals and objectives derived from the current IEP
- determined on an individualized, case by case basis
- provided at no cost to families, and with no budgetary constraints as a factor
- based on the needs of the individual child, and thus there is no specific amount of time required (typically not the same as what the child may receive during the school year)
- developed through creative use of educational and other personnel
- provided in a variety of environments, including the home setting
- available to any student who is eligible
- evaluated annually and based on data collected during the current year to determine eligibility
- discussed at the IEP meeting by the IEP team
Extended School Year (ESY) services are not:
- to develop new skills
- a traditional summer school program
- to meet newly developed goals and objectives
- to make up for absences incurred during vacation or suspension
- provided for the convenience of families, e.g. to substitute for childcare or to maintain the families’ job security
- to replace or duplicate alternative community resources
The IEP team must discuss ESY services at an initial IEP meeting and at every annual IEP meeting. Team members may also discuss ESY services through an addendum to the annual IEP if necessary. School staff members, parent(s), and/or the student may request an IEP meeting at any time to discuss ESY services.
ESY services are only necessary to ensure a FAPE when the benefits a student gains during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if the student is not provided with an educational program during breaks in instruction. ESY services are intended to address critical life skills. A critical life skill includes any skill determined by the IEP team to be critical to the student’s overall educational progress, including social and behavior skills. In determining critical life skills for the specific needs of the student, the IEP team may consider those skills that lead to independent living, including toileting, feeding, communicating, dressing, and other self-help skills. In some cases, the IEP team may consider and address academic and behavioral issues. Depending on factors, such as a student’s age, ability, and the number of years the student has left in school, the areas of reading, math, and written language could be considered critical life skills.
Any child receiving special education services, regardless of disability category, may be eligible to receive ESY services if the IEP team determines that they are necessary for the student to receive FAPE. The IEP team members should discuss the following factors when they are considering ESY services:
- Regression and Recoupment–The IEP team must determine whether, without these services, there is a likelihood of substantial regression of critical life skills caused by a school break and it is expected that the student will not recover those lost skills within a reasonable amount of time following the school break (e.g., six to eight weeks after summer break).
- Degree of Progress–The IEP team must review the student’s progress toward the IEP goals and objectives targeting critical life skills and determines whether, without these services, the student’s degree or rate of progress toward those goals or objectives significantly jeopardize the student’s receipt of educational benefit from his or her educational program during the regular school year.
- Emerging Skills and Breakthrough Opportunities–The IEP team reviews all IEP goals targeting critical life skills to determine whether any of these skills are at a breakthrough point. When critical life skills are at this point, the IEP team needs to determine whether the interruption in services and instruction on those goals or objectives during the school break is likely to significantly jeopardize the student’s receipt of educational benefit from his or her educational program during the regular school year.
- Interfering Behaviors–The IEP team determines whether the student demonstrates any interfering behavior(s) such as stereotypic, ritualistic, aggressive, or self-injurious behavior(s) targeted by the IEP goals which substantially jeopardize the student’s receipt of educational benefit from his or her educational program during the regular school year. The team also determines whether the interruption of programming for these interfering behaviors is likely to significantly jeopardize the student’s receipt of benefit from his or her educational programming during the next school year.
- Nature and/or Severity of the Disability–The IEP team determines whether, without ESY services, the nature and/or severity of the student’s disability is likely to significantly jeopardize the student’s receipt of benefit from his or her educational program during the regular school year.
- Special Circumstances or Other Factors–The IEP team determines whether, without ESY services, there are any special circumstances that will significantly jeopardize the student’s receipt of benefit from his or her education program during the regular school year.
ESY services may be delivered through a variety of settings and methods, examples of which might include classroom instruction, a parent-guided home program with progress periodically monitored by the teacher, and/or consultative or supervisory support from staff members within community settings.