Some students with disabilities may require a combination of all three services (compensatory, recovery, ESY) in order to close widened skills gaps or maintain progress. Some students may not require any of these services. The key to determining who will get what supports should be driven by the observations of families and the educators who work with individual students (VDOE, 2020). Families do not have to wait for a student to regress to expect that a proactive and equity driven service delivery plan be put in place (VDOE, 2007, p. 9). The regression standard under IDEA for ESY provision is “only when such regression will substantially thwart the goal of meaningful progress” (VDOE, 2007, p. 9). What meaningful progress looks like for individual students should be based on their unique needs in order to achieve the goal of independent living and successful participation in society.
Decision makers should not make decisions about compensatory, recovery, or ESY services based on specific disability categories or across the board skill level benchmarks (VDOE, 2007; VDOE, 2020). Each student’s determination must be based on their individual circumstances in both academic and functional performance areas (NCLD, 2021). While all academic areas are important, reading is considered a critical life skill under the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (2008) and should be treated with as much strategic intention as activities of daily living. Courageous school leaders should consider using COVID funds and other resources to design creative service delivery options that will address historically low expectations for students with disabilities (NCLD, 2021).
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has released timely, and valuable guidance focused on strategies to accelerate the rate of skill acquisition for students with disabilities. This guidance invites school leaders charged with making decisions about service delivery for students with disabilities and other marginalized populations to “reimagine learning” (NCLD, 2021, p. 4) in order to create more inclusive and equitable opportunities that are strategically designed to close critical skill gaps. One of the most proven strategies for accelerating rates of skill acquisition and closing critical skill gaps for historically marginalized groups of students is high dosage tutoring (Robinson, et al., 2021). Decision-makers can use the design principles offered by EdResearch for Recovery to design a system of compensatory, recovery, and ESY services to provide the inclusive and equitable supports that students deserve following the impacts of COVID-19.