As the school year winds down, the talk always starts about ESY aka extended school year or summer school. But it’s hard to advocate for your child without all the facts. So let’s get the skinny on ESY.
What is Extended School Year? Does My Kids Qualify?
Sometimes, people confuse ESY with summer school, but it’s not quite the same. And not every kid qualifies either.
Extended school year is basically an extension of your child’s IEP over the summer.
It’s not summer school, which is primarily for kids without IEPs who are in danger of falling significantly behind at grade level. Students identified for traditional summer school are usually identified via standardized test scores and/or teacher referrals. Invitations usually arrive between late April and mid-May.
Extended school year (ESY) is your child’s IEP, continued into the summer months. Related services, like SLP or PT, can be continued during the summer. The frequency and duration might vary compared to the school year.
Who Qualifies for ESY?
Not every child with an IEP qualifies for ESY.
Some ESY qualifying indicators include:
- documented working memory concerns
- previous regression over school breaks and vacations
- slow/limited progress toward IEP goals
- a break in service would prevent/limit progress toward IEP goals
- behavior concerns that often prevent learning in the typical school year
- new or limited mastery of a critical skill, like reading
- concerns that current skills or progress would be lost over a school vacation
- concerns that lost skills would require longer than typical to regain following the school vacation
Discuss ESY eligibility and goals during your annual IEP meeting. You’ll talk about ESY eligibility after reviewing goals, objectives and placements.
If eligible, the school IEP team will review the ESY options available at your child’s home school or throughout the district. Together, you’ll make a decision about the ESY program.
You can always review your child’s eligibility at any time during the school year. Call a meeting to discuss ESY and explain your concerns about regression over the summer. If you need help getting started, please email me to discuss how a qualified education advocate can assist!
What Will ESY Look Like?
This part is tricky because every school and district handles ESY slightly differently. Hours, days and services might vary. And it won’t look exactly like their school year program. Even providers might be different during ESY.
To get the best picture of what your child’s program will look like, you’ll need to talk things through with the school and your child’s providers. Ask about:
- service providers
- classroom staff
- target goals
- offered services and supports
- service and learning minutes
- ESY hours and days
- additional care options following ESY provided by or affiliated with the school district
My Child Doesn’t Qualify, Now What?
If your child doesn’t qualify for ESY, there might be other options to maintain skills or make academic progress. Some kids who do not meet requirements for ESY do qualify for traditional summer learning programs, aka summer school.
To apply for your school or district’s summer learning program, send a formal request for more information to your child’s teacher and the school administration staff. Ask about eligibility and express your concerns for your child’s continued progress. This should get the ball rolling.