Remember when I said I was finished with my series on IEPs?
I'm beginning to wonder if I'll EVER be finished with the bloody things…
I didn't mention much about ESY in my IEP series, because for 99% of our kids, it isn't much of an issue. However, the law says that Extended School Year (ESY) at least must be considered. Consideration, in reality, involves placing a statement at the end of the minutes stating that it was considered and the committee determined that it was not warranted.
If you, as a teacher, would like to get really popular with your county special ed. director, begin doling out ESY services like condoms at an orgy. It's probably the fastest way to get a phone call from him/her saying, "Please come to my office at once. And bring all of your personal effects with you."
ESY gets a really bad rap from special educators at all levels. You've just gone 9-10 months with these kids and are looking forward to your summer break. Then this ESY thing comes up and it looks like you might have to spend your whole summer teaching! Who wants that?
Before talking about what ESY really looks like, when is it warranted? The 3 areas of consideration are: substantial regression/recoupment; critical point of instruction related to objectives on the IEP; and mastery of goals and objectives.
Regression/recoupment refers to a student who has substantial regression when extended periods of instruction are not present. Many students regress over the summer, but most also recoup over just a few weeks. Those that take months to recoups what they lost would be entitled to ESY.
Critical point of instruction refers to a student who is learning a critical skill and the break interrupting that instruction. For instance if a nonverbal child begins talking in late May, that would be considered a critical point of instruction and may get ESY to continue with those skills.
Mastery of IEP objectives is a consideration when a student has not mastered many of their goals, and this becomes a form of compensatory instruction.
In all cases, our county special ed, director wants to know before the IEP and before anything is promised. Then he/she will want to know the extent of services and if the teacher is willing to provide those services. And this explains why ESY is not offered more often, because teachers are reluctant to give up their time off. So it is easier to not make much of an effort to offer it. But families may also be reluctant to give up vacation time, so it is not a highly sought after service.
ESY does not mean that the child gets dropped off at school at 8 and picked up at 3:00, like a regular school day. I've done ESY twice before and will do it again this summer.
A few years ago, the outgoing director of special ed. decided to give out ESY. I'd never known anyone to get it before, so I was surprised to learn several folks were getting it. One was my student and it consisted of one hour a week to simply check on him to make sure all the community services were being coordinated. He had a lot of issues, including DFACS and community health services. It wasn't difficult and the kid lived just down the road from me, so it wasn't too big of a deal. During that same summer, the director called me to ask if I would do ESY during summer school for a student with autism. This was closer to what most people think of when they think of extended school. But even that was only a half day 5x/week for 3 weeks. But this student never showed up, so I basically got paid for waiting around for him for a week.
For this summer, I am basically extending hospital homebound services for 3 hours a week. I'd be willing to put in more hours if needed, simply because my oldest needs dental surgery and I can use the money! Teachers have often historically done summer jobs for extra money, and ESY isn't a bad way to do it. It involves less than a full day and pay is typically better than what a person might otherwise make on typical summer jobs. Unlike summer school, ESY can be done at the student's home and is 1:1, so it is more relaxed than a typical school day.
As a parent, I've never given a lot of consideration for ESY services. One reason is because a parent doesn't know which teacher will do it. If it's not your child's regular teacher, who will be delivering the service? Whoever is willing to do it, which may or may not be what you want. It takes some time to get to know a child and establish a working relationship, which is hardly worth it with a summer only lasting 6 or so weeks. There may be some value in it for transition, for instance the child's new middle school teacher coming an hour a week during the summer when a child is transitioning out of elementary school. But again, the who, how, when, where and why of it needs to be explicitly worked out ahead of time.
ESY can be a useful tool, and should be given serious consideration for certain situations. As schools get closer to becoming more balanced or year-round, ESY becomes less of an issue. However, even breaks of 2 weeks such as during the winter holidays can be under consideration for ESY. As with everything else in an IEP it comes down to the needs of the individual student.