Six Ways to Ensure a Productive Extended School Year

We would be remiss if we didn’t express our most profound sorrow for the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones and to the community that is broken by this senseless act. Words truly aren’t adequate at a time like this. We stand with Uvalde, Texas.  


People often think that summer school and ESY are the same, but they aren’t. Extended School Year is for students with disabilities who have IEP’s. These students are at risk of regression if new learning isn’t solidified before a prolonged time away from school. ESY is NOT for the student who hasn’t made as much progress in tackling IEP goals. ESY is not a camp or a place to work on random skills. It is a time for students to get instruction on their IEP-specific goals. The following are ways to prepare for effective ESY.

1. Review student IEP plans and data

As a team, go through student IEP’s to see what skills the student needs to solidify. Data collected throughout the year is a very integral part of the process. Don’t forget to include the parents as their input is vital to the student’s ESY success.  

2. Establish goals that reflect student IEP’s.

To create appropriate, targeted goals, you have to collect and review student IEP’s and data from the school year to determine which skills need to be strengthened and maintained into the upcoming school year.

3. Design a plan

Once goals are established for each student, map out a plan for each student to achieve their goals.

4. Gather materials

Preparation is key to effective ESY services. Student goals may vary, yet some will be the same. Gather materials for each student such as manipulatives for math and books, reading passages, and other items for reading. Place individual items in folders, or zippered pouches and place all items into a container for each child so that all resources are readily available for instruction. Having this ready saves you time and energy locating the right tools and maximizes learning time for students.

5. Have fun

In addition to individualized lessons, provide different learning opportunities for children to explore and learn. ESY is the perfect time for project-based learning while still keeping IEP goals in mind. There’s no rule that says ESY has to be stuffy, hard, or boring. Find ways to connect with your students and for them to build relationships with other students in the class, but don’t let the focus on IEP goals be forgotten.

6. Collect and record data

It’s very important to collect information about student progress toward goals. Collect data logically and relevantly so that student growth is appropriately measured. Make sure the data and student notes are carefully documented and placed in student records so that next year’s teachers and parents can see what the student accomplished and where they still need work in the new school year.

ESY is a short opportunity in the summer for students to continue to master IEP objectives and grow before the next school year. Make the most of every minute by carefully planning and creating positive, productive student experiences. 


Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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