The Benefits of the Extended School Year in Special Education

The Benefits of the Extended School Year in Special Education

What is Summer Program Extended School Year (ESY)?

As required by a state’s specific special education rules and regulations, the IEP is usually reviewed on a yearly basis allowing the transition plan to be adjusted and evaluated accordingly. We begin teaching and helping the student based upon their respective disabilities to acquire and build upon appropriate behaviors for the work environment.

The IEP team determines whether ESY is warranted for each student on an individual basis. Regulations state that, to qualify, a child with a disability must lose two-thirds of the skills learned during the school year (usually based upon progress toward IEP goals), and take between six and nine weeks of the next school year to regain those skills. It is sometimes called the “regression/recoupment analysis.” The team looks at “regression” (skills lost after a break) and “recoupment” (the time needed to relearn those skills).

  • Did the child’s behavior regress significantly over short vacations or last summer break? 
  • Will the child lose critical skills without continued support and teaching?
  • How long will it take to regain those skills in September? 

If the IEP team concludes that what a student will forget over the summer months would take too long to recoup in September, then they will recommend reinforcement of skills over the summer in an extended school year program.

Why is it important?

ESY is set up to minimize the loss of skills that could otherwise occur during a break. The continued program is necessary to ensure that there is no lapse in the support needed to build upon and help the student meet the goals in their IEP. While summer programs are not mandatory, it is important that a child with special needs maintain the consistency of being in the school program. All mandates, support services, and structural goals are continued. If the child is in the midst of acquiring a new skill, ESY summer services can maximize a window of opportunity for learning that would be missed if the child had to wait for a new school year in September.

How is ESY similar to the regular school year?

ESY is primarily an extension of the goals and objectives already dictated in the IEP. The services are individualized to help each child maintain skills and not lose the progress made toward the goals. For some kids, this may mean one-on-one tutoring. For others it may be a few sessions of occupational therapy or speech therapy each week. The child study team determines the best activities for your child to help prevent regression and prepare for the next school year.

How is it different from the regular school year?

ESY will include interacting and socializing together with a variety of games and activities to help build on the IEP goals. Curricula might include fun theme-based instruction, adaptive PE, music, art, guitar, yoga, Karaoke, dance, or movement classes. It might incorporate more off-site/outdoor activities where applicable, including organized trips like swimming, bowling, or golf, depending on the individual student’s needs and ability.

The benefits of ESY are clear, but as always, parents know their children best. Does your child need a continuation of routines over the summer, or does she need a break from the pressure of the school year? ESY over the summer can combine a number of different activities to provide the best learning experience for your child.

erik glazer principal harbor school

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.

Erik Glazner, 
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ