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What is Extended School Year (ESY)?

Extended School Year, or ESY, is specially designed instruction for your special education student that allows them to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) throughout the year, as required by their unique needs.

In other words, ESY is a way to ensure that a student maintains their skills and progress toward their IEP goals. ESY is most often thought of as being offered through the summer months, but ESY services are not limited to that time. For example, a student may require extra service time before or after school and/or during seasonal school breaks if that is what is necessary to help them maintain their skills.

Maintaining progress towards goals is especially important for children with dyslexia. Because they learn best with a structured, systematic approach that includes review until mastery, it is critical to keep services in place with fidelity until automaticity is reached with a particular skill. If we stop or skip instruction and review before a skill is completely mastered, the student may be unable to continue making meaningful progress.

ESY is Not Summer School

Many school teams offer "Summer School", a standardized summer school program in place of the individualized instruction and support that is required in delivering ESY (according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

See our chart below for just a few of the very distinct differences between ESY and summer school.

ESY is an IEP Team Decision

Every student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) includes a section requiring the school team to decide if the student requires Extended School Year services.

Remember, parents are equal members of the IEP team. Therefore, if you believe your child requires specially designed instruction outside of the regular school day, including over the summer, you can ask the team to look at the data, along with the ESY criteria (which includes factors beyond regression) to decide if your child requires ESY services.

Parents can request an IEP meeting at any time. You do not have to wait for the annual review of your child’s IEP to discuss ESY. In fact, we recommend that parents call the team together to review their child’s progress and make ESY decisions in the Spring. That will allow the team plenty of time to make decisions about what your child requires and how to meet those needs with ESY over the summer months.

As always, we recommend that parents prepare for this conversation with the IEP team by compiling data on their child’s progress and having knowledge of the special education regulations. Review your state Department of Education’s website for information about their guidelines for ESY. Virginia’s Department of Education guidance on ESY can be found here.

Extended school year may be just what your child needs to maintain their progress towards their goals and succeed in school.


As an educational advocate with over a decade of experience, Lorraine and her team are here to answer your tough questions and share the possibilities that exist when you hire the right professional to advocate for your child.

Are you worried that your dyslexic child is falling behind in school?

Are you ready to see your child learn and thrive?

If so, we can help!

Our advocacy practice has helped countless families transform the lives of their children, and create more peace and harmony at home.

While it isn’t always easy, it CAN happen, and we will support you every step of the way. Let’s Talk about how we can help your family!


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