Extended School Year (ESY)

What is the purpose of ESY?

When a student requires additional time beyond the school year to benefit from the special education program described in the Individualized Education Program (IEP), Extended School Year (ESY) services may be necessary.

All students with disabilities, who qualify for special education services, must be considered for ESY eligibility at each IEP meeting. The type, amount, duration or location of those services may not be predetermined or limited based on category of disability or severity of disability.

The Basic Steps...

Step 1: Gather information regarding student progress (especially after breaks in the school schedule)

Step 2: Make the determination regarding ESY eligibility at an IEP team meeting

Step 3: Document the ESY determination on the IEP

Step 4: Issue the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice (NOREP/PWN), if appropriate.


Specific timelines are required for a Target Group of students, identified in the Pennsylvania ESY lawsuit Armstrong v. Kline as students with severe disabilities such as autism, serious emotional disturbance, severe intellectual disability, degenerative impairments with mental involvement and severe multiple disabilities.

IEP meetings for this target group must occur no later than February 28 of each school year.

For students in this target group, the NOREP/PWN containing the ESY decision is to be issued to parents no later than March 31.

The ESY Decision-Making Process

Step 1: Gather information- Reliable sources of information may include:

  • Progress toward goals on consecutive IEPs
  • Progress reports maintained by educators, therapists, and others having direct contact with the student before and after interruptions in education
  • Medical or other agency reports indicating degenerative-type difficulties, which increase or become more extreme during breaks in educational services
  • Observations by educators, parents and others
  • Results of tests including criterion-referenced tests, curriculum-based assessments, ecological life skills assessments and other equivalent measures
  • Data collected while monitoring student progress

Data, Data, Data!

Data for the ESY determination need to provide information about the following factors:

  • Regression/Recoupment — Regression refers to how much knowledge or how many skills a student loses due to a break in educational programming. Recoupment is how long it takes for the student to get that knowledge or those skills back to the level they were before the break.

  • Example: Before winter break, John knew his times tables up to 5’s. After break, he could only recite 2’s and 3’s. It took him 20 school days to relearn 4’s and 5’s.

  • Data gathered: Progress monitoring reports on skill levels before and after breaks. Information on how long it takes for a student to relearn what was lost. Results of tests given before and after breaks.

  • Mastery — When a student is learning a crucial skill or series of steps necessary for the mastery of a skill, or when a student has not yet completed the number of repetitions necessary to master a skill and there is a break in the educational programming. The student would have to relearn all the necessary steps for mastery from the beginning.

  • Example: Philip is learning how to dress himself. He has learned all the steps except for the final step of fastening his shirt. It has taken him all year and innumerable repetitions to learn the process up to this point. His IEP meeting is this week. It is unlikely that Phil will learn the last step and have enough time to perform an adequate amount of repetitions to master this skill before the end of the school year.

  • Data gathered: Progress monitoring information regarding his dressing goal. Tallies of repetitions necessary for mastery

  • Self-sufficiency and independence — Which skills are necessary for students to gain appropriate levels of self-sufficiency and independence so they are not dependent on a caregiver for basic needs? How do breaks in educational programming affect the mastery of such skills? How much regression occurs and what is the recoupment rate?

  • Example: In September, Serena was unable to make requests of any kind. Goals were implemented to address the initiation of requests for bathroom breaks, calming breaks, and/or snacks both in school and in Serena's work experience. In December, Serena made unprompted requests 30 percent of the time and prompted ones 70 percent of the time. Following Christmas break, Serena did not return to these levels until late February.

  • Data gathered: Progress monitoring information from both settings.

  • Successive interruptions — The extent to which successive interruptions in educational programming and the cumulative loss of skills and knowledge suffered during those interruptions in educational programming result in a student becoming so frustrated, lost, or confused that the student withdraws from the learning process

  • Example: Jim is a student with multiple disabilities. His teachers and therapists have been working with Jim on toileting skills, from scheduled visits to the bathroom to self-initiated visits. During the spring break, Jim was self-initiating the need to go to the bathroom 50 percent of the time. After the break he regressed to 20 percent of the time.

  • Data gathered: Progress monitoring data on his toileting goals and objectives. Observational data on a checklist used by his teacher and his family.

  • Severity of disability — Is the student’s disability severe, such as autism/pervasive developmental disorder, serious emotional disturbance, severe intellectual disability, degenerative impairments with mental involvement or severe multiple disabilities?

  • Example: Jane has been identified as a student with autism and participates in an autistic support classroom. One of her goals is to learn to transition among daily routines. Progress monitoring data were collected before and after the holiday break. Jane lost 25 percent of her acquired skills.

  • Data gathered: Information on Jane’s diagnosis and its severity can be found in her Evaluation Report. Other information that indicates her level of functioning can be found in reports from her therapists and observations from parents. Progress monitoring data were used to make the determination of how much time Jane needed to recoup after a break.

Step 2: Make the determination regarding ESY eligibility

The following statements can provide guidance in making a decision:

  • If after reviewing the factors listed above the IEP team considers it unlikely that the student will attain or maintain skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives, the student is eligible for ESY services.

  • If a child’s IEP team determines, on an individual basis, that ESY services are necessary for the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as outlined in the IEP, then the child is eligible.

  • The IEP team will not consider the desire or need for any of the following as the basis for needing ESY services:
  1. Day care or respite care services
  2. A summer recreation program
  3. Other programs or services which, while they may provide educational benefit, are not required to ensure the provision of FAPE

Step 3: Document the determination on the IEP

Step 4: Issue the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice (NOREP/PWN), if appropriate

The NOREP/PWN only needs to be issued if the LEA is:

  • Proposing to add ESY services to an IEP that previously did not have it
  • Proposing to delete the provision of ESY services from an IEP
  • Refusing to initiate the provision of ESY services requested by the parent
  • Proposing or refusing to change the provision of the ESY program

IEP Example of a student deemed eligible to receive ESY services.

IEP Example of a student NOT eligible to receive ESY services.

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Another Resource...ESY Checklist

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Adrienne Stiteler


2895 W Pike

Indiana, PA 15701