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Extended School Year (ESY)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Jul 26, 2007

The term EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR encompasses a range of options in providing programs in excess of the traditional 180-day school year. The issues of regression and recoupment have been pivotal in the litigation that has advanced the concept of extended school year (Armstrong v. Kline, 1979; Battle v. Commonwealth 1980). Regression has been described as the lack of maintenance or loss of skills over the summer recess. Recoupment is getting back that which was lost. 

According to a survey of State Directors of Special Education, 49 states currently have statutes or policies that either require extended year programs or allow them to be provided as district options (Alper & Noie, 1987). There is great variability among providers in determining eligibility for and delivery of ESY services. 

When is ESY Needed?

ESY is needed whenever a student would experience unacceptable regression and recoupment. Research conducted by Tilley, Cox, and Staybrook (1986) found that most students experience some regression over the summer months. Students in regular education regressed by about 4% as measured by standardized tests. The study also found that students with mild handicaps, serious behavior disorders, and hearing impairments regressed at about the same rate as regular education students. Students with moderate and severe handicaps showed a faster rate of regression and a slower rate of recoupment. Regression occurred in language, gross motor, fine motor, and self-help skills as well as in academic areas. ESY should be made available whenever there is an indication of substantially greater regression and slower recoupment than for regular education students. Tilley, Cox, and Staybrook (1986) assumed that there would be no regression in language, gross motor, and self-help skills by regular class students; therefore, any regression in these areas by a handicapped student might automatically fulfill eligibility criteria. The issue of self-sufficiency has been a major factor in litigation and has been interpreted as the attainment of functional skills. 

How is Eligibility for ESY Determined?

The most appropriate method for determining eligibility for ESY is direct, ongoing assessment of individualized education program (IEP) objectives as they relate to the regression and recoupment a child experiences (Browder, 1987; Browder & Lentz, 1985). According to Alper and Noie (1987), 25 states currently rely on IEP teams that include teachers, administrators, related services personnel, and parents to assess eligibility on an individual basis. Browder, Lentz, Knoster, and Wilansky (1988) made the point that assessment of IEP objectives should be clearly defined and consistent to avoid an esoteric approach. The advantages of this method are that (a) assessment can be matched to each objective in every student's IEP, (b) cross-time trends can be noted, and (c) the data obtained can be compared and used for subsequent evaluation of service effectiveness. 

A series of measurements is valuable in providing a baseline to document regression and a point from which to measure recoupment. Edgar, Spence, and Kennowitz (1977) recommended a four-point schedule for collecting data about student progress: (1) at the end of the regular school year, (2) at the end of the summer program, (3) at the beginning of the subsequent year, and (4) at the end of the subsequent school year. 

Parent and teacher reports are integral to accurate assessment of a child's need for ESY. They are necessary in order to form a complete picture of the child's level of functioning and to supply information such as regression and recoupment history, current instructional strategies, maintenance strategies, family circumstances, and recent behavioral and medical problems. 

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