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How can families fight learning loss?

| Jun 30, 2021 | Special Education Law |

Learning loss in students is actually common over the long summer break from school. While this is a common issue many kids experience, its impact is different for everyone.

For students with learning differences or disabilities, learning loss affects the next school year and everything they accomplished this year. So, what can parents and students do to mitigate the effects of learning loss?

Note: Learning loss became even more of a concern this year

When kids are out of school over the summer, many parents worry about learning loss. This worry only increases for parents of students with disabilities. Depending on the additional services students receive from their independent education plans (IEPs), summer break can mean:

  • Loss of momentum in learning and developing academic skills
  • Regression without behavior or physical therapies
  • Difficulty recouping those skills after a long break

After the last year of distance learning, reports indicate that there has been a significant rate of learning loss already, even before the summer started. However, students with disabilities could qualify for extended school year services (ESY).

What families should know about ESY

It is critical to note that ESY should not be compared to summer school. These are services provided during extended school breaks that are dedicated to working on the same IEP goals the students worked on during the school year. Essentially, these services help children to maintain their momentum in learning.

Both California law and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outline rules for these services. Even so, not all students are eligible to receive ESY services, even if they have an IEP. The factors that determine a student’s eligibility generally include:

  • The student will experience regression or lose skills
  • It will take significant time to regain these skills
  • The long break will negatively affect their progress

The IEP team has to consider students for ESY each year. Unfortunately, that does not always mean students qualify.

What if students are not eligible?

Parents and students still have options to reduce learning loss, even if students do not qualify for ESY. For example:

  • Summer learning and education programs, with some designed specifically for students with disabilities
  • Academic activities with parents to help students maintain the skills they developed over the last year
  • Therapy or education services outside of school

Families should be aware of all of their options, so they can best support their child’s learning.