I’m telling you, I have had it UP TO HERE with misinformation about ESY and the IEP. (And I’m pointing to a spot really high above my head!)
I don’t know what is going on, if some schools are getting worse about ESY, or if we just have more IEP beginner parents in the group who aren’t 100% certain of what ESY is….but today takes the cake.
“In New York, if your child goes to ESY, they are not eligible for a diploma.”
Yes, I heard that one today! Can you believe it!?!
So, here we go…one more time…..going over ESY. Extended School Year. This is an update of an older post.
Have you been told that your child does not qualify for ESY because they did not regress? Argh! That makes me want to scream! There are actually 10 criteria for determining ESY eligibility.
First I will answer the common questions about ESY.
What is ESY?
ESY (extended school year) is anything that extends beyond the normal six hours a day, 180 days a year. It is a provision of IDEA and is NOT just summer school. It can be anything (as long as the program has merit and fidelity towards meeting your child’s goals), and is determined by the child’s needs. So it can be year-round tutoring, summer tutoring, summer camps, summer recreation programs and so on. For older kids it may be 1:1 job training or job shadowing or job coaching. (Some states call it ESS or SES)
See also: PA Code on ESY
Why is February 28 an important date for ESY?
It is, and here’s why. Per the PA code (linked above) it states that the IEP team must meet by February 28 to determine eligibility for ESY programming, particularly summer ESY programming. The thought process is, like any other part of the IEP, the parent must be allowed time for due process, should they disagree with the team’s decision. So, if the team decides that your child does not qualify, you have ample time to file for due process or mediation. If you are interested in having your child attend your district’s summer ESY program, and you do not hear anything by March 1 or 10 or so…I would put in a written request asking about it, if it is not specified in the IEP.
Also worth noting, the PA code calls for a 2/28 eligibility meeting date (NLT), and then a letter NLT 3/31. However, and I really, really, really dislike this….it does use the term “only for severe disabilities.” I still think that those dates are a great ‘best practice.’ My concern is for the borderline kid who has a September or October IEP meeting, and then the team checks the box that says “more information needed.” Before you know it, it’s Memorial Day and no decision is made and mom is fighting for ESY services. Be proactive! Ask in February or March!
So is ESY just for summer?
No. No. And again, NO! And this is where the part of the PA State Code bothers me. I understand the need to give parents time for DP if necessary. However, the code, as written, implies that ESY is just a summer program and that is not the case. See question one above–it is anything above and beyond the 6-hour 180 day school year. Yes, Saturday programming is much less common. It doesn’t mean that it can’t happen or isn’t an option, if it is what your child needs. I have seen all kinds of great ESY programming take place–sometimes it was just a tutor for 1-2 hours a week, sometimes it’s job training or job coaching and so much more. It does not have to be the canned program that your district offers if that does not meet your child’s needs.
Are summer camps included or not?
This is where it gets very adversarial with schools. They plan a summer program. They hire summer teachers and so on. It makes sense that they want as many kids as possible to fit into this neat box they have planned. But life isn’t always nice and neat.
ESY programming is based on what the needs are of the child, determined by the IEP. So if you are told “This is the only ESY program we offer” ask for specifics. If they tell you four hours a day, two for math and two for reading….but your child’s needs are social skills, fine motor and executive functioning…how is four hours a day of reading and math appropriate? So to answer the question, summer camps are not immediately included nor excluded. If it is a summer camp for speech and language skills and that is what your child needs, you bet I would request that! But if your district is offering speech and language skills as part of ESY, you probably don’t have a good case. It is based on what the child needs.
Offering a variety of ESY options allows eligible students to truly get what they need v. trying to make them to fit in a more generalized/generic ESY experience.
Many students may not regress academically, but regress behaviorally or socially. Some self-isolate or “shut down” without some structured programming and disengage from the learning process during school breaks, making it harder to reenter school routines and environments in the fall.
Another thing to consider is how hard it is for some students to transition to new routines, staff and environments. Some proposed ESY programs may require students to be with unfamiliar peers, new teachers, in new school and/or unfamiliar classroom settings. In doing so, these students may spend much of the summer acclimating instead of actually maintaining mastered skills. Should a student be recommended for ESY services in a new setting, it is important that the services be provided by experienced staff who are knowledgeable and sensitive to the needs of the students they support.
It is important to “think outside the box” when it comes to ESY services. Each student is unique and has unique needs. ESY services, while not required to provide the same level of services as during the school year, should be developed to meet the unique needs of the student. These services do not HAVE to be provided in a school setting. They can take the form of tutoring, social skills groups, specialized summer camps, or any combination of these formats.
Ok, before I go into eligibility, like anything else, this is a part of the IEP process. Get it written into the IEP and if the team doesn’t agree, like anything else you have to decide if you are going to sign the NOREP or not or how far you are willing to take this.
Individualized Programming-The ESY programming must be in accordance with the IEP, and must be specific to the child. In other words, programming that will help your child achieve her goals, not “Here is our ESY program, it’s Mon-Thurs 9-1, see you there!” It is not necessarily required just because she did not meet some IEP goals, and it is not to be used for education above and beyond what is in the IEP.
No Single Eligibility Factor-They should not just focus on one factor. There are more than two, and ALL must be considered. ESY must be based on multiple criteria and regression cannot be used as a single qualifying factor.
Eligibility factors for ESY:
- regression and recoupment-is she likely to lose critical skills or regress?
- emerging skills-will her educational programming be interrupted, is she on the verge of a breakthrough?
- crucial skill-will a break cause a significant problem in progress being made, such as toileting, verbalizing?
- interfering behavior/physical problem-does she have behaviors that interfere with her education? will an interruption in services disrupt her learning process?
- nature and severity of disability-targeted groups: ASD, PDD, moderate-severe IDD, severe multiple disabilities, serious emotional disturbance
- specific areas of curriculum that need continuous attention-lack of progress toward a goal that will prevent them from meaningful benefit the next year
- parents inability or unwillingness to provide structure at home (are you a speech therapist?)
- rate of progress-little or no progress
- availability of alternative resources
- special circumstances
No cost to parents-self explanatory.
Use of regression, recoupment and predictive data-A student cannot be required to fail first, they do not have to demonstrate regression first. Find out what your state standards are as far as timeline to return to level of achievement.
Emergent skills and critical point of instruction-is she on the brink of a breakthrough or at the critical stage of gaining a new skill, or recently acquired a critical goal?
Nature and severity of disability–
Timing to exercise procedural safeguards– Usually the rule is February 28 as I described above–they have to tell you by then about ESY decisions so you have time to file for Due Process.
Defined individualized duration and support level-the amount and duration of her ESY services cannot be arbitrarily limited to the school’s summer schedule. Must fit the child’s needs.
Individualized delivery model-based on your daughter’s need, not a one-size-fits-all summer program that the school offers.
ESY must be educationally based-must be related to IEP goals and services; not day care or respite care; and it’s only to help them reach minimum levels–not to have them surpass their peers.
Sources: PA Code and Wrightslaw
Author’s note: A reminder that NOREP is a term we use here in PA. Other states refer to it as PWN (Prior Written Notice) or may have their own state specific term. It is the document that you get that seals the deal, when you agree or disagree to the IEP, placement and all the services.