Is Your Staff Confused about ESY?

Written by Dan McCool

Dan is a Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of Second Mile School Therapy. He has been working with school districts for 20 years in Southwest Missouri.

March 11, 2023

The end of the school year is approaching fast. This means you will need to consider whether each student with a disability will need Extended School Year (ESY). ESY is a tricky subject in some school districts. Over the years, I have heard all of the following statements:

“We don’t do ESY in our district.”

“If a child will regress over the summer then they should get ESY”

“If you cannot show documentation of regression then they don’t qualify for ESY”

There are radical differences among school districts in their approach to ESY.

So, who should receive ESY services?

According to IDEA, every student with a disability should be considered for ESY services. DESE says that the Regression/recoupment rate is recognized across the nation as the standard in determining whether or not to provide ESY. However, the decision must not be limited to documented regression/recoupment. Case law indicates the decision to provide ESY should also consider

  • Nature of the child’s disability;
  • The severity of the disability;
  • The areas of learning crucial to the child’s attainment of self-sufficiency and independence;
  • Child’s progress, behavioral and physical needs;
  • Opportunities to practice skills outside the formal classroom setting (the more functional the skill, the more opportunities the child has to practice it);
  • Availability of alternative resources;
  • Areas of the child’s curriculum that need continuous attention;
  • Child’s vocational needs;
  • The ability of the child’s parents to provide educational structure at home; and
  • Opportunity for the child to interact with non-disabled children.
What is Regression and Recoupment?

Regression refers to the loss of skills by a student during a break from school. Recoupment is how long it takes for the child to regain the lost skills. There is no universal standard when it comes to an acceptable amount of loss and a tolerable amount of time for recoupment. That is the question that must be addressed by the IEP team.

Most students will regress during an extended break. Even students without a disability lose skills over the summer. This is why the first month of the school year is often dedicated to reviewing material taught during the previous school year.

When making the decision about ESY, you might consider this rule of thumb: If a student is unlikely to regain lost skills in the first 6 weeks after returning to school, ESY is usually appropriate.

What if you don’t have documentation to indicate regression but still think ESY is necessary?

According to DESE, “No one single criterion can be used as the sole qualifying factor for ESY eligibility.”

When an IEP is initiated after the Christmas break, there may not be any extended time off from school that would allow skill regression to occur. In that case, the IEP team will need to weigh the other evidence available to make a prediction concerning regression and recoupment. Prediction of regression/recoupment problems is a decision the IEP team might make based on evaluation information, evaluator opinion, and/or looking at the numerous factors, referenced above

“Will the learning that occurred during the regular school year be significantly jeopardized if ESY services are not provided?”

ESY is expensive. How can we manage the expense of ESY services?

Since some students require more extensive support, their services will cost more. Here are some practical considerations surrounding the financial support of ESY-

  1. Utilize reimbursement from the state to offset ESY services for ECSE students.
  2. Ask teachers to provide a written explanation to justify ESY services for each student they think needs it. This can help avoid the frivolous referral of students that do not need ESY.
  3. Be mindful of ESY as you build your budget for the school year. Use previous school years as a guide for how many students will qualify for an extended school year and factor in a healthy buffer to avoid going over budget. (It is always easier to explain to the board that you didn’t need all the money allocated for ESY rather than explain cost overruns.
  4. Develop an Extended School Year Policy. A formal policy is required if a district wants to receive Exceptional Pupil Aid for students served during the extended school year period.
  5. If possible, utilize Medicaid reimbursement for eligible students for therapy services during ESY.


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