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School breaks interrupt our child’s progress! What do we do?

Extended School Year (ESY) Benefits

Consider Extended School Year (ESY) Program Services for Eligible Students with Disabilities.

We’ve heard it a thousand times from parents.  “We don’t know what happened!  We went on a school break and Johnny lost some of the skills that we knew he had made a lot of progress in last school year.  We’ve been working with his teacher and therapist for about 8 weeks to bring back that skill set—it’s been heart-wrenching and threw our family into chaos.” Unfortunately, this happens many times in children with functional and/or behavioral issues.  Families want a break from the norm and go on vacation and share the dream with their beloved children only to regress in vital skills that make their family operate in its norm. Have you ever noticed what happens with your child in terms of behavioral and functional skills during a weeklong break from school?  What happens during Christmas break or even the longest –most anticipated break of all…Summer? Does your child retain their skills, or do they start the spiral of regression?  Keeping their routines during a school holiday is beneficial to many children with disabilities. When this happens, Brighton Center Consultants recommend speaking with your child’s educational planning team to consider Extended School Year (ESY) services.

What is ESY?

Extended School Year (ESY) services are an individualized instructional program for eligible students with disabilities that are provided beyond the regular school year. The Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee determines the needs for ESY services on an individual basis. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) developed for ESY must include goals and objectives.

Would my child be an appropriate candidate for ESY services?

ESY is considered when students that receive special education services show regression in skills, over a break from school, that they cannot recoup within a reasonable amount of time. The typical timeframe that is considered to be outside of that reasonable amount of time is 6 to 8 weeks.

How is determination for ‘NEED for ESY Services’ made?

This discussion takes place among your student’s Admission Review & Dismissal (ARD) Committee, which should consist of parents, teachers, and administrators.

Throughout the discussion, the team should review historical data from before each of these breaks and then look at where their skills fall when reintroduced to these skills over time. When considering skill regression, it does not encompass just academic skills, but also looks at behavioral and functional skills, as they are (should be) addressed in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

About ESY:

  • The intention of Extended School Year (ESY) is not to teach your child new skills.
  • ESY’s purpose is to help them maintain current skills through routine and structure for an outlined timeframe during the summer.
  • More than likely, it will not be your child’s teacher that provides ESY services. Furthermore, it may not even take place on their home campus.
  • ESY teachers and paraprofessionals are typically a completely voluntary team, however, they should still be certified special education teachers.
  • ESY will not run the entire week, or the entire day, as it is not a typical school day. It is simply meant to provide some structure and to shorten a student’s summer break. This is typically up to 4 weeks, for 4 days out of the week for a few hours.
  • ESY runs on about the same schedule as regular summer school, but is not the same as summer school- summer school is intended to make up/earn credits while ESY is only for the maintenance of skills that the student has already displayed

Here is what the Texas Education Agency has to say about ESY:

The need for Extended School Year (ESY) services must be documented from formal or informal evaluations. These evaluations are provided by the district or the parents. Some students may require a significant amount of time to recoup acquired critical skills. In this event, the ARD committee must discuss whether the student needs extended educational or related services during school breaks. If the loss of acquired critical skills would be particularly severe or substantial, or if such loss results, or reasonably may be expected to result, in immediate physical harm to the student or to others, ESY services may be justified without consideration of the period of time for recoupment of such skills.”

How Brighton Center Can Help:

Brighton Center Consultants assist parents and school staff in reviewing and analyzing the data that the ARD committee uses to determine the need for Extended School Year (ESY) services.

Some of the data comes from:

  • a student’s past and current IEP,
  • comprehensive IEP progress reports,
  • report cards,
  • work samples,
  • periodic assessments, and more.

No one person can make the decision on behalf of the student. Discussions must occur, and it must be an ARD committee decision. Once the ARD committee determines eligibility, the student’s team will then outline within the IEP what areas to target for maintenance throughout ESY. This includes related services such as speech therapy if they are included as an area of concern.

Are there other options to help my child retain their skills?

Finally, a question that families may ask themselves is, “Will my student have other opportunities outside of school that will outweigh the potential benefits of ESY?” Some students attend tutoring or therapy services during the summer that also help target critical skills. Some families travel during the summer or focus more on family time.

Overall, begin considering if your child would be a good candidate for Extended School Year (ESY) services. Determine whether it realistically fits into your summer plans.

If you feel it does and want to explore your options, contact Brighton Center’s Special Education Support and Services team. With their help, how you can work collaboratively with your child’s school to get the ball rolling. Don’t wait until later in the year to start having these discussions. Schools will get busy and it takes time to review the data.

Click here to go to the Texas Education Agencies webpage on ESY.

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“Brighton offers families hope, caring, understanding, education and every bit of it is 100% from their hearts. Our daughter has benefited from ALL of the services that Brighton has to offer. They have become like another family to us and they will always be a part of our lives.“

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