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Extended School Year Services For Special Education Students

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Some special education students qualify for extended school year services, which allow them to receive educational support during the summer break. These special education services are offered based on the likelihood of a student experiencing a regression in skills during the time away from school.

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    Benefits of an Extended School Year

    The majority of public school systems are not in session between the months of June and August, which results in a temporary lapse of academic instruction. Students who are receiving special education services, however, sometimes have problems retaining what they have learned during the school year when faced with a summer break. These students are able to receive extended school year services (ESY) as provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Children with special education needs who participate in an extended school year program are much less likely to regress academically, behaviorally, or socially. The continued stream of support services allows a child to keep working toward his or her individual progress goals.

    The IEP team, which typically consists of teachers, parents, and special education professionals, takes several considerations into account when determining if a child is qualified to receive extended school year services. Some students receive an assessment after a shorter holiday break that tests for any loss of behavioral or academic skill, as children who regress when out of school for a week are highly likely to need special education services throughout the summer. The IEP team also evaluates whether a child's needs can be met in a less structured home atmosphere, if the child will have consistent exposure to typical peers over the summer, and if it will be difficult for the child to recover any lost skills quickly during the following academic year.

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    Examples of Extended Year Services

    If the IEP team reaches the conclusion that a special education student needs extended school year services in order to continue developing skills, they can then explore the options that are available and appropriate. These services are paid for by the school district and parents do not incur any cost. Some children are able to receive special education services in their homes through an instructor or by completing assignments or exercises under the supervision of parents and consultants. Other children benefit from attending a summer school program that is geared towards special needs students, a mainstream summer program with the assistance of an aide, or classes that provide small group instruction. Extended school year services can also include behavioral provisions such as counseling or support sessions as well as physical therapy sessions. The goal of ESY is to ensure that children in the special education system will successfully retain skills that have previously been taught.