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Knowing When Extended School Year Support Is Necessary

It’s the time of year when things are starting to wrap up. As we enter spring IEP and transition meetings, I’m noticing a new trend—an unusual number of requests from parents for Extended School Year (ESY) academic summer support services.

While I understand that parents are concerned about their children falling behind, not every student qualifies for ESY supports. The purpose of ESY is to prevent regression. Each state and district have paperwork that must be completed to determine eligibility for ESY, and usually require documented academic or developmental skill regression throughout the school year or following a gap in services (e.g., after returning from winter break). Some students may also qualify for ESY for medical reasons, such as a preschooler I work with who just received her second cochlear implant and will need continued auditory rehabilitation throughout the summer to help integrate the new processor.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of fear, and not just fear of getting sick. We’ve all had a disjointed school year. We’ve all bounced between hybrid and remote and in-person and back again. We’ve all had a piecemeal curriculum squeezed into these challenging instructional models. This does not mean all students are “behind.” We’re all right where we are. Every student is different, and every case deserves individual thought and planning, however, it is unfair to put unreasonable pressure on families, schools and students to attempt to make up an entire school year through a few weeks of ESY. For many of my students, the school team has been able to work with families to help them better understand ESY and why that might not be a good fit in terms of the peer group and academic focus. Students need the same break that the adults need right now. A summer of socializing, reading, camp and typical play is going to be the most valuable way to spend time for many of us.
Determining ESY eligibility is no different than determining eligibility for any other supports. There’s no universal recommendation as each student is in a unique situation and must be evaluated as such. For students who have received ESY in the past, I’ll likely recommend those supports again this year. For students who have not needed ESY in the past, the team will need to discuss the request and determine how to proceed and if the student qualifies. There’s so much fear and pressure right now. Collectively maybe we can help encourage relaxation and regrouping for the summer as much as possible, rather than additional stress and anxiety, so that we can all return fresh in the fall. 

Hear Me Out

The Hear Me Out blog provides unique resources for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's a forum for itinerant teachers of the deaf to share their experiences as they grow as professionals! It is produced by Clarke's Mainstream Services team as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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About the Hear Me Out Blog

Itinerant teachers of the deaf (TOD) provide direct services to children with hearing loss in mainstream schools, consultation to their teachers, and professional development to school staff. Itinerant TODs travel to a child’s neighborhood school to provide one-on-one educational support, foster listening and spoken language development, and help children build social and self-advocacy skills. They also act as a liaison between the family and their mainstream school. Hear Me Out provides a unique forum for these special teachers to share their experiences as they grow as professionals.

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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Hear Me Out Blog

About the Author

Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A) received her master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College in 2006 and a graduate certificate in Children, Families, and Schools (with a concentration in research methodology) from the University of Massachusetts in 2012. In addition to her many years of experience working with children with hearing loss who communicate using listening and spoken language, Heather has also worked as a preschool classroom teacher.

Heather has presented both locally and nationally on issues related to mainstreaming students with hearing loss and is a contributing author to Odyssey magazine. Heather currently works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

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