Education: Extended School Year (ESY)


Extended School Year (ESY)

Extended School Year (ESY) refers to school programs for students with disabilities that extend beyond the 180 required school days. ESY is a service necessary to ensure a student is receiving a free appropriate public education. ESY can take place during any school break, or even during the school term in addition to the regular school day, depending on what the individual student needs to receive a free appropriate public education. ESY services are not summer school. Nor is ESY a summer camp, child care, respite care, or a longer school day. ESY is not intended to maximize potential growth to advance a student skills beyond the IEP goals. It is not based on specific category of disability, the type of classroom placement or a level of service. If a child failed a subject, then the child would be required to attend summer school in order to progress to the next grade. Students should be continuing work on specific IEP goals that the team determined as a concern for development. Keep in mind, too, that ESY isn’t the only way to keep kids learning; IEP goals can be reinforced at home or during other types of learning programs offered through community centers or agencies. Click Here to see the section on summer camps.

The IEP team determines the need for ESY services. The team has to consider several factors to determine if a student requires ESY. They must consider:

  • Regression/recoupment – the team will be reviewing classroom data to determine if the student will regress or maintain the skills learned prior to the break. In addition to regression, the team reviews if the child will recoup the skills learned within a reasonable time. We all forget how to do things if we don’t use it often, but we can also recoup our skill knowledge with a refresher. If a student does not gain back skill knowledge within a reasonable time, regression/recoupment is of concern. Not only is the team reviewing pre-academic, academic skills but also critical life skills related to communication, independent functioning, and social emotional development.
  • Emerging skill development – if a student is just beginning to learn a skill the team needs to consider if a lapse in services would substantially jeopardize the student’s chances of learning the skill.
  • Nature of disability – the team needs to look at the nature or severity of the student’s disability to determine if he/she needs continuous education to make educational progress.
  • Extenuating circumstances pertinent to the current situation. Examples in this area include a student who has recently gained employment and requires a job coach to be successful; a student who requires ESY in order to remain in the least restrictive environment and a student whose frequent health related absences have significantly impeded progress on goals related to critical life skills.

What if my child is recommended to attend ESY during a summer school session and we have a vacation planned in the middle of the term, can my child participate?

There is no requirement on the number days for attendance. A student will not be withdrawn. However, if a child is recommended for ESY there is a need for continuous services. The school may discourage the break but the student can enter at any point during the summer session and may be absent for any portion of it then return. If the vacation is for more than one week, perhaps consider other means of reinforcing skills rather than attending school.

How may a parent/caregiver gain access to this service?

Remember the IEP team can meet more than just once a year. The team may hold the IEP meeting prior to a school break to determine if there is a need for additional services during the break. Parents play a critical role in IEP development. If a parent has a concern and thinks their child would benefit from extended school year, they may request an IEP meeting at any time during the school year.

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic: For the ESY overview from Disability Rights Florida Click Here Extended School Year Services for Students with Disabilities: A Guide for IEP and FSP Teams, 2002 Click Here For the Florida Dept of Education ESY Brochure Click Here Summer learning programs for kids with learning and attention issues. For their website Click Here

Questions or observations recommended when considering ESY:

Florida’s Dept. of Education technical assistance paper on ESY suggests the following questions to be asked at the IEP team meeting when determining ESY:

  • Does the student demonstrate a severe disability in one or more areas?
  • Does the student experience significant regression, more pronounced than that experienced by nondisabled peers, in social or adaptive behaviors or learned skills over regularly scheduled school breaks during the year?
  • Is a significant amount of time and effort, beyond that required by nondisabled peers, needed to assist the student in regaining previously learned behaviors and skills
  • Is the student failing to achieve instructional goals and benchmarks or short-term objectives on the IEP or FSP due to the interruption of instruction between school years?
  • Is the student at a critical stage in development where the window of opportunity will be lost if the student does not receive services?
  • Have other options that would meet the needs of the student been considered and determined to be of less benefit than extended school year services
  • Are there unusual circumstances that create a need for extended school year services?
  • Without ESY services in the identified critical life skills, will the student be unable to receive some reasonable level of benefit from his/her educational services during the regular school year?


Disability rights florida. ESY overview

Florida department of education. Technical assistance paper ESE 311202 determining an individual student’s need for extended school year. January 2002.

Florida department of education. Extended school year services for students with disabilities: a guide for IEP and FSP teams, 2002

Weatherly, j.j. Siegel, A., Avoiding ESY landmines: making ESY determinations webinar. May 20115

Wright, L. W. Summer learning programs for kids with learning and attention issues.

Written by: Iris Neil