Christine writes that her 5th grade son, Alex, has high-functioning autism and average cognitive abilities. He has not met his IEP reading goal in over 2 years.
The school does not use standardized measures to track his progress and has been giving him average grades. He reads 2 years or more below grade level, yet the school gives him average grades.
We were clueless and didn’t notice.
We Pushed for Significant Change
This year, we got a great comprehensive evaluation from an independent evaluator.
For the next school year, we’ve pushed for a significant change and had it written into the IEP:
- increase in reading instruction
- DIBELS fluency measures
- a change of reading program (with unfortunately under-trained teachers, but we’ll save that for another letter).
Against our advice, the school has set the reading goal unrealistically high. Apparently, they are optimistic!
We Requested ESY
We wanted our son to get some reading help over the summer to try to reach this goal. The school district said summer school did not meet our son’s needs.
I started researching Extended School Year (ESY) regulations.
Before our third and final IEP meeting of the season, we wrote twice via email and requested the school add Extended School Year (ESY) services to the agenda.
The emailed reply was: “Yes, I will add ESY. However, I believe we would all agree that ESY does not meet Alex’s needs. It is generally offered to the DD and DLP students, not resource students.”
We Did Our Research
We’ve read www.wrightslaw.com and many other fine websites and books. We know the school’s reasoning is contrary to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) for two reasons.
- Determination about ESY is a team decision
- ESY cannot be limited to particular categories of disability or types of service
In spite of what the school said, they did not add ESY to the agenda before the meeting.
When the meeting began, we asked the school again to add ESY to the agenda. The general feeling in the room was exasperation.
Finally, they added ESY as the last item.
When ESY came up, the school told us again that Alex didn’t qualify for these services. The school does not offer ESY to a resource student. The summer school reading program is the same program that is currently failing Alex.
We Navigated Around the Roadblocks
I then made my prepared and practiced statement:
- Multiple unmet IEP yearly goals show that Alex is making little progress in reading.
- Last summer’s regression/recoupment measured by the school was demonstrated in the WPM rates.
- Serious regression in reading over the summer and probable slow recoupment is again likely.
- Alex’s reading deficits affect his learning in other subjects.
- As he gets older, it is less likely that Alex will catch up to his peers in reading.
“Therefore, we propose that Alex see a reading tutor 2 or 3 times per week for 6 weeks over the summer at the district’s expense.”
The room became very quiet. The coordinator and facilitator tried to argue with us.
I told them, “It’ says that you can’t deny ESY based on category of disability or type of service.” They responded, “I don’t know what “It” is you are reading.”
We handed them a copy of our state’s ESY memo. (http://www.isbe.state.il.us/spec-ed/pdfs/memo_esy_01.pdf)
“Oh, that,” they replied.
I told them I would like to hear what the rest of the team thought. We’ve found this is a very useful technique. Not everyone in the room is a roadblock; most of them just won’t speak up.
Finally, our son’s regular ed teacher said she thought tutoring was a good idea. Then the assistive technology person agreed, and…
We were on our way!
The school has committed to and agreed to pay for tutoring for the summer as extended school year services.
Thank you for describing what ESY looks like – a critical chapter for families. – Patty Kishi, Vice-President, Autism Bridges Maui
“The school may not unilaterally limit ESY services to a set number of days or hours. ESY services cannot be limited because of financial resources of the school or for administrative convenience.”