Find us on Facebook graphic image link
Follow us on Twitter  graphic image link

RAISE The Standard, April 2023, v.9 n.5

RAISE (The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center) logo

View as Webpage

African American female cashier in uniform working supermarket checkout

Using the Summer Months for

Transition Planning

"Summertime, and the livin’ is easy..."

Nearly every student (and their teachers) looks forward to the more relaxed pace of summer. But summer is also a great time to advance transition goals, build job skills, and make connections in the community.

Did you know that if a transition-aged student (14-21) uses the roughly 90 days of each summer for learning, it can add more than three academic years of opportunity across a school career?

In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we take a deep dive into how and why to use summertime to advance transition skills.


Matthew Boulez talking about leveraging summer education

The Summer Learning Gap:

What is It? What Can We Do About It?

For some youth, summer is a busy, fun-filled time with travel and camps. But for others, including many youth with disabilities, summer can mean learning loss, especially in math and reading. It can also mean boredom, hunger, and isolation.

Matthew Boulay, Founder and CEO of the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), argues that there should be a national commitment to summer learning programs to help close those gaps.

In this short video, he makes the case for summer learning and shares simple things that school districts, parents, and communities can do to help reduce the inequity.

Click here to access the video.


young adult male working is a greenhouse

Who Gets Extended School Year

(ESY) Services?

Q: What are Extended School Year (ESY) Services?

A: ESY services are special education and/or related services that are provided when school is not usually in session – typically during the summer. Like other services in a student’s Individual Education Program (IEP), ESY and transportation services are provided at no cost to parents.

Q: Is ESY the same as summer school?

A: No. ESY services are different from summer school, summer camp, summer remedial classes, and summer enrichment programs. ESY services are individualized, based on the student’s IEP, and are provided at no cost to parents.

Q: Who is eligible for ESY?

A: The decision about eligibility for ESY is part of the IEP process, so the decision is made by the IEP team, which always includes the parent(s). Many students are eligible for ESY based on their learning, social, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Q: Are certain disability categories excluded from ESY?

A: No. The law requires that the decision about ESY be made on an individual basis. It is illegal for a state or school district to exclude a category of student – for example, learning disabilities – from ESY services.

Q: What about related services and transition services?

A: Students can receive related services based on the IEP, including speech and language therapy, counseling and individual psychotherapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Transition-aged students can take part in community-based instruction and volunteer experiences.

Q: What factors should be considered by the IEP team when determining eligibility for ESY services?

A: The courts have identified several standards for determining the need for ESY, the first of which is that there can be NO single criterion. IEP teams must also consider a range of criteria including:

Regression/recoupment is the cycle of decline in knowledge and skills that can result from an interruption in education and the amount of time it takes to regain the prior level of functioning. This criterion for eligibility, often used by IEP teams, is only one of several criteria to be considered in making ESY decisions. It covers both instructional and related services for the prevention (or reduction) of academic and physical regression.

Emerging skills and ‘breakthrough opportunities’ happen when a child is on the brink of learning something new (talking, toileting, learning to read) and the student has great potential for increasing their self-sufficiency. If the student does not completely acquire and master the skills, it is likely that the current level of acquisition will be lost due to the interruption of summer vacation.

Nature and severity of the student’s disability is a key factor in the ESY eligibility determination. Children with severe disabilities are more likely to be involved in ESY programs since their regression may be more significant and their recoupment abilities may extend over a longer time.

Ability of the parents to provide educational structure at home must be considered in determining the need for ESY. If parents can provide the proper structure at home, the regression and recoupment issues will not be as severe.

Notice and timing must give parents enough time to exercise their right to administrative review or appeal. Eligibility for ESY must be considered at each annual review meeting. Districts must document the discussion and the decision reached.

Content and duration of ESY services may vary based on the student’s needs. An individualized determination of the number of weeks, days per week, and hours per day that should be provided must be spelled out in the IEP.


Screen grab from Connecting Youth with Significant Disabilities to Summer Employment

Summer Jobs

A summer job is a rite of passage and a step toward independence and maturity. Researchers at Stamford University have found that a summer job for teens can help boost academic performance in the classroom. And working jobs over the course of multiple summers can help students even more by fostering soft skills like time management, perseverance, and self-confidence.

But studies show that only 15 percent of youth with significant disabilities work at any point in the summer months, compared to the 60-70 percent of youth without disabilities who have summer jobs.

Here are 6 Great Reasons for Youth to Get a Summer Job

  1. Experience - Many employers require previous experience. A summer job allows youth to gain valuable relevant experience without interfering with the demands of academics and the pressures of the school year.
  2. Job Sampling - A summer job gives youth the chance to try a job for a few weeks/months, learn what certain roles look like in different industries, and experience different work environments.
  3. Networking - A summer job is a great way for youth to build and expand connections for life beyond high school.
  4. References - References are vital to getting a good job and can give jobseekers a competitive edge.
  5. Soft Skills - The soft skills learned during a summer job, such as time and project management, communication, multitasking, organization, and customer service, can serve a student in school and beyond.
  6. Confidence - In a summer job, students may learn that they have natural skills and build confidence as they learn new skills.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has produced a series of videos to help parents, educators, and advocates make better use of the summer months to advance transition goals. In this video, Erik Carter, Ph.D., a professor of special education at Vanderbilt University, maps out strategies to help get youth with significant disabilities working and ways to overcome the barriers.

Click here to view Connecting Youth with Significant Disabilities to Summer Employment.


Mei Sullivan talking about making friends when have a disability

Making Friends When you Have a Disability

Mei Sullivan, host of ‘Twitch Happens,’ brings us this short video with tips on making friends. They offer ideas about what it means to have good communication skills in a friendship.

Click here to watch Mei's video about making friends


Yout Advocates for Change (YAFC) Podcast - The Power of Personal Stories

The RAISE Center has a New VLOG

The RAISE Center has a new vlog, produced in collaboration with Youth Advocates for Change (YAFC). The vlog highlights the youth's voice and supports parent centers as they continue engaging with youth and their families.

In episode one, youth talk candidly about their own experiences about how sharing their personal stories helps them grow as a person and an advocate.

Click here to see the pilot episode – The Power of Personal Stories.


There are eight (8) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Centers throughout the US that provide training and programming to youth/young adults with disabilities and their families, professionals, and other PTIs and CPRCs on the issues surrounding youth transition.


RSA Parent Centers are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

Independent Futures That Work logo

In this issue of RAISE, meet Independent Futures That Work (APEC) (Region B2).

Independent Futures that Work is a joint project of Parent Centers across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. They provide training and information that will empower and support youth in transition to access independent living and employment as they transition to adult lives. They project supports youth, their families, and professionals to improve their capacity to support youth with disabilities. Click here to learn more.

While they offer many resources, here is one to check out: Independent Living, Here We Come. This checklist can help identify the skills necessary to live as independently as possible. It can be used as a starting point to help assess where a youth with disabilities currently stands. Click here to access the checklist.


icon with several books on a bluish green circular background

RAISE hosts an active YouTube channel that is home to nearly 70 videos. Content is in English and Spanish. Check out the RAISE YouTube Channel here.

Click here to read “Experience Works: Results of a National Transition Survey of Young Adults with Disabilities by IMPACT and RAISE. Learn about the transition activities during high school that have the strongest relationship to positive outcomes after high school:


News from Washingto badge

Better Care Better Jobs Act

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI-6) have introduced legislation to expand access to home and community-based services for people with disabilities. The bill would also increase pay and improve the benefits for the caregivers who provide this life-sustaining care.

The Better Care Better Jobs Act establishes programs and provides funds for state Medicaid programs to improve home- and community-based services (HCBS), such as home health care, personal care, case management, and rehabilitative services. Click here to read the bill.


National RAISE Center will be hosting its 9th Summit, “Paychecks not Pity!”

Location: Hilton Charlotte University Place,

Charlotte, NC.

Date: Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 from 9 AM – 1 PM.

The Summit will be a time for leadership development, networking and team-building, and focus on developing and strengthening relationships with key partners to improve transition outcomes.

The sessions will include:

  • A Young Adult Showcase
  • MPACT Presentation “Walking the Walk: Recommendations for Experience-Focused Transition Programming”
  • RSA Parent Centers Spotlight

Register Here.

RAISE The Standard

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor:

Josie Badger

Visit our Website:

The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.

* For more on SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and all of the complementary programs supported, visit


RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

US Dept of Education logo seal

The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Find Your Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)