What Is Extended School Year?

Extended School Year or ESY Services are individualized special vocation-related services that are designed to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities. ESY services are provided beyond the normal school year of a school district. These services include both the days and the hours of the school days. 

They are designed to maintain the skills necessary for students to progress on IEP (Individualized Education Program). These services are provided at no cost to the parents. It differs from a summer school, remedial program, compensatory services, or enrichment program. The school districts cannot limit ESY regarding categories of disability, type, amount, or duration of such services. 

Extended school year: Service explored

ESY services are extended school year services and can apply to placement or services provided during any break in the regular school year. The primary goal of ESY is to prevent regression and recoupment of a student’s IEP goal. In doing so, the ESY services of the student will likely differ from those offered during the regular school year. The services may include school classes, speech therapy exercises, physical/occupational therapy, and building social and life skills. 

Extended school year

The primary way that eligibility for ESY is determined is through regression. It refers to a decline in knowledge and skills that can result from an interruption in education. Most students will learn some skills over their school holidays, and they can quickly recoup those skills. Recoupment is the amount of time it takes to regain the prior level of functioning. 

Lastly, emerging skills are another reason. To simplify, if the child is in a critical stage of developing a skill that has the potential of increasing that student’s self-sufficiency. If that skill is not sufficiently mastered, the current level of acquiring that skill will likely be lost due to the interruption of services. 

Extended school year: Pros and cons

While an extended school year offers a different learning environment, it is important to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the service. Check out the pros and cons before considering ESY for children. 


  1. ESY services, such as regular school, use the same data and information to monitor students’ progress. Owing to that, the services make all other decisions throughout the school year. 
  2. Teaching Activities such as classwork, tests, quizzes, anecdotal records, and informal assessment data are used thoroughly to improve students’ cognitive skills. 
  3. Teachers pay particular attention to student performance after extended breaks from regular schools. 
  4. Increased time in school through ESY services affords significant benefits to children of lower socioeconomic status. 
  5. It gives children increased access to time available for exposure to highly effective instructional strategies.
  6. Students also receive exposure to social and artistic programming that enhances student engagement, increases background knowledge, and provides great social equity.
  7. The highlight for a group of students will be the increased time for purposeful collaboration. 
  8. ESY also assists in the development of a data-driven and growth model culture. 
  9. Students are provided more time for formative assessment, which can help the tutors work on their targeted instruction. 
  10. Lastly, there is a greater time for personalization of learning as per the needs of the students.


  1. The extended summer vacation, on the other hand, offers great opportunities for growth and alternative forms of educational exploration through art activities or mastering a sport. This is not possible as students cannot fully dedicate their time to extracurricular activities.
  2. Attitude of students and faculty members might be negative in the beginning, making them feel like a punishment to extend an entire year for schooling.
  3. The cost of this service might be heavy on schools leading to higher salaries for teachers, student supplies, and higher education costs.

Extended school year: Eligibility

ESY services are determined on an annual basis; usually, the decision is made in the spring. 

  • The child must receive FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education). This is provided on an individual basis. 
  • A district provides ESY services when a child’s IEP team determines on an individual basis that the services are necessary to provide an efficient education. 
  • Once the district determines that the student requires such services, it develops the IEP to reflect the student’s educational needs. 

Some students who lose skills during extended breaks from school are eligible to apply. The ESY services work on individualized plans and are suited to the very important needs of the child. These are the following individual criteria used to determine eligibility for an extended school year. 

  • Regression
  • Nature of disability 
  • Educational progress
  • Age and skill
  • Behavioral consideration 
  • Achievement of self-sufficiency


The primary target for implementing ESY services is to minimize the educational and personal loss of skills over a long break. ESY is highly beneficial for your child as they limit the loss of information, especially in difficult subjects like math and science.

Moreover, ESY services help the students to safeguard the opportunities to improve their education and personal growth, which can be lost otherwise during long breaks. These can also help your child achieve important milestones without a long delay. 

Some students thrive on regular and consistent positive reinforcement in classrooms on regular school days. Thus, ESY services help prevent behavioral backsliding and include physical and behavioral therapy.  Remember that even if your child does not qualify for the traditional ESY services, there are many activities, manipulatives, and games to help you teach them.

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