Maximize the Impact for ESY

By Trish Geraghty

Extended School Year (ESY) services play an important role in the continuum of special education services. As a Special Education Director, it’s vital to ensure that ESY services are individualized to meet the unique needs of each student. Below, I explore key considerations for designing, implementing, and assessing ESY programs to ensure effectiveness in supporting the educational and developmental needs of our students.

Understanding ESY Services: Definition and Purpose

 ESY services refer to special education and related services provided beyond the regular academic year. These services aim to prevent significant regression in students with disabilities during extended breaks. ESY services are not synonymous with summer school but are customized to individual student needs, focusing on maintaining critical skills and preventing substantial regression.

Legal Framework

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates ESY services as part of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). It’s crucial to remember that ESY services should be based on the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process and not a generic summer school curriculum. The decision to offer ESY services must be based on individual needs and not on a predetermined policy for all students with a particular disability or availability to provide services. 

Key Considerations for ESY

  1. Eligibility Determination

Determining eligibility for ESY services requires a data-driven approach. The IEP team should consider factors such as regression and recoupment, critical life skills, and the nature and severity of the disability. It’s essential to evaluate if a student is likely to experience significant regression of previously acquired skills and if the recoupment time would hinder their progress. Check out one of Kit’s features: data management.  Kit is a workflow management app designed to simplify the workday for IEP Teams. The app provides an innovative guided approach to information sharing, data management, planning, assessments, and more. Make ESY data collection easy with Kit!

  1. Individualized Services

ESY programs must be individualized, reflecting each student’s unique needs as outlined in their IEP. The services provided during ESY should align with the goals already identified. Individualizing services ensures that the program addresses specific areas of need, whether that’s academic, social-emotional, behavioral, or functional.

  1. Program Duration and Intensity

The duration and intensity of ESY programs should be appropriate for the needs of each student. For some, a few hours per week may suffice, while others may benefit from full-day programming. It’s important to consider the balance between providing enough support to prevent regression and overwhelming students with unnecessary or excessive services.

  1. Staffing

Selecting qualified and trained staff is crucial for effective ESY programs. Staff should understand the specific needs of the students they serve and have the skills to implement individualized programs effectively. Providing professional development and resources ensures that staff are prepared to address the diverse needs of students during ESY.

  1. Transportation and Accessibility

Transportation and accessibility are practical considerations that significantly impact the effectiveness of ESY programs. Ensuring that transportation is available and appropriate for all students is crucial. The program location should also be accessible and conducive to learning for students with various needs.

  1. Collaboration with Families

Collaboration with families is vital for ESY success. Families provide valuable insights into their child’s needs and can support learning outside of the program. Frequent communication about ESY schedules, goals, and progress helps to engage families and ensures consistency between home and the ESY program.

  1. Continuous Improvement Monitoring and Evaluation

Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of ESY programs ensures that they meet student needs effectively. Collecting data on student progress and program effectiveness helps adjust services as needed and informs future ESY planning. Continuous evaluation allows for responsive and adaptive programming, so that ESY remains aligned with student needs.


Extended School Year services are a necessary component of special education that supports students with disabilities to receive consistent and appropriate instruction. As a Special Education Director, focus on individualized, student-centered ESY programs so students maintain critical skills. By considering factors such as eligibility, individualized services, staffing, and family collaboration, we can design and implement effective ESY programs that meet the unique needs of our students. Through practical strategies such as focusing on critical skills, using technology, and offering flexible scheduling, we can create engaging and effective ESY experiences that support student success year-round.



Trish Geraghty
Trish Geraghty, an accomplished educational leader with 20+ years of experience, excels in curriculum development, instructional design, and professional development. Her proven track record includes successful support for schools, districts, educators, and students. Committed to ensuring universal access to high-quality learning, Trish is a visionary advocate for inclusive education. Her innovative approach to curriculum development reflects a keen understanding of evolving standards. Trish's transformative influence extends beyond traditional boundaries, actively contributing to the broader advancement of education. A catalyst for positive change, she inspires excellence in others, shaping the future of education through unwavering commitment and visionary leadership.

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