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Guidance and Answers to FAQs on COVID-19 Compensatory Services

This page was published June 30, 2020

On March 13, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf ordered the closure of all K-12 Pennsylvania schools for ten business days to protect the health and safety of students and school communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This period of closure was later extended indefinitely, and, on April 9, 2020, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera ordered all school entities closed through the end of the 2019-20 school year. Signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on March 27, Act 13 of 2020 required school entities, including school districts and charter schools, to make a good faith effort to plan to offer continuity of education during the period of closure.

Local education agencies (LEAs) made significant efforts during this extended school closure to provide continuity of education, including the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the greatest extent possible. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) recognizes, however, LEAs may have had difficulty delivering FAPE and students with disabilities may have lost skills and/or behaviors and/or failed to make progress. As a result, LEAs will need to develop a plan to evaluate the impact of the extended school closure on students with disabilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Education's (USDE) March 12, 2020 guidance, LEAs, in consultation with individualized education program (IEP) teams, must make an individualized determination whether, and to what extent, compensatory services may be needed as a result of the extended school closure. Parents are critical members of IEP teams and are to be included in this decision-making process.

PDE is offering this guidance to assist LEAs in fulfilling their FAPE responsibilities. This guidance does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. LEAs should consult their solicitor as necessary. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving. USDE may release additional guidance on this topic. As such, it is important for LEAs to continually check all resources for the most up-to-date information. 

What are COVID-19 Compensatory Services?

In this guidance document, the term "COVID-19 Compensatory Services (CCS)" refers to services as determined by an IEP team needed to remedy a student's skill and/or behavior loss and/or lack of progress that resulted from an LEA's inability to provide FAPE during the extended school closure. CCS should be considered only after the student receives services to recover the lost skills or behavior or to make progress to the level(s) determined appropriate prior to the extended school closure ("recoupment services").

What is the process to determine if a student eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) needs CCS?

As soon as in-person instruction restarts, LEAs should resume implementation of each student's current IEP.

Within the first few weeks of in-person instruction resuming, LEAs should:

  • Gather baseline data on each student's current present educational levels;

  • Compare Fall 2020 baseline data to 2019-20 school year progress monitoring data for each student to determine if there is a regression in skills and/or behavior patterns and/or a lack of progress;

  • Initiate recoupment services for a student if comparison data evidences the student's regression in skills and/or behaviors and/or failure to make progress as a result of the extended school closure; and

  • Track progress of each student receiving recoupment services associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.


No later than the end of the third month of the 2020-21 school year, the IEP team should review the progress of any student who received recoupment services since the start of the school year using multiple data sources. With this data, the IEP team should determine whether, and to what extent, the student recouped the lost skills and/or behaviors and/or has made meaningful progress. If a student is continuing to evidence a loss of skills and/or behaviors and/or failing to make progress due to the LEA's inability to provide FAPE during the extended school closure, then the IEP team should determine whether and to what extent the student needs CCS. 

What factors and sources of data should an IEP team consider when determining if a student needs CCS?  

The IEP team should consider the following factors and sources of data collected during the extended school closure and during any period in which a student receives recoupment services associated with the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Levels of academic and functional performance, including levels of performance on all IEP goals prior to the extended school closure as compared to the student's current level of performance as measured from the baseline data collection.

  • Information and observations from teachers, related services providers, parents, caregivers, and other family members.

  • The student's ability to access remote learning opportunities and special education services during the extended school closure.

  • The student's engagement in the learning process during the extended school closure.

  • The amount of skill and/or behavior loss and/or lack of progress the student experienced during the extended school closure.

  • Historical data regarding the student's ability to recoup lost skills and/or behavior (i.e., comparing the rate of progress during periods of interrupted educational programming prior to the extended school closure to the rate of progress after the extended school closure).

  • Services provided during the extended school closure.

  • Data collected through progress monitoring and progress reports.

  • Results from informal and/or formal assessments.

How should an IEP team calculate CCS? 

The IEP team should calculate CCS on an individualized basis. The IEP team should consider the student's loss of skills and/or behaviors and/or lack of progress due to an LEA's inability to provide FAPE during the extended school closure and whether the student was able to recoup the lost skills and/or behaviors and/or to make meaningful progress during any period in which the student received recoupment services. If there is any remaining loss in skills and/or behaviors and/or lack of progress after the recoupment period associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but no later than the first three months of the 2020-21 school year, the IEP team should determine whether and to what extent the student needs CCS.  If the student needs CCS, the IEP team should determine the type and amount of CCS and how CCS will be delivered. CSS should not supplant the student's current IEP, and the IEP team should refrain from altering the least restrictive environment if CCS are offered during the school day.

How should an IEP team document the offering of CCS?

At a minimum, LEAs and parents should document the offering of CCS on a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice (NOREP/PWN). 

When should an IEP team determine whether a student who has aged out during the 2019-20 school year needs CCS? 

For a student who has aged out during the 2019-20 school year, the IEP team should meet within a reasonable time period to determine whether and to what extent the student needs CCS and how those services should be delivered. The IEP team is not prevented from meeting to discuss CCS after a student receives a regular high school diploma.   

Should an IEP team consider whether CCS are needed as a result of a delayed eligibility determination due to the need for in-person assessments or observations?

Yes. If an initial evaluation was delayed during the extended school closure based on the need for in-person assessments or observations and the IEP team eventually determined a student eligible for special education services, the IEP team should consider the impact of the delay of services on the student's ability to make meaningful progress. If the delay in services caused a delay in meaningful progress, the IEP team should determine whether and to what extent the student needs CCS.  If the IEP team determines the student needs CCS, the IEP team should determine the type and amount of CCS needed to address the lack of progress.   

When should an IEP team determine eligibility for Extended School Year (ESY) 2021?

The IEP team may consider determining whether a student with disabilities requires ESY 2021 after the 2020-21 winter break. This will allow a period of time for a student to recoup any skills and/or behaviors that were lost during the extended school closure and for IEP teams to examine the eligibility for ESY separate from CSS. The IEP team should use multiple data points to make this determination.

Note: ESY is designed for a student to maintain skills and behaviors during interruptions in educational programming and prevent regression that cannot be recouped once the educational programming resumes. CCS is designed to remedy the loss of skills and/or behaviors and/or lack of progress due to an LEA's inability to provide FAPE during the extended school closure.

Are there other ways to address a student's skill and/or behavior loss and/or lack of progress that resulted from an LEA's inability to provide FAPE during the extended school closure?

Yes. LEAs, in collaboration with parents, may agree to address the skill and/or behavior loss and/or lack of progress through other strategies, such as IEP revisions or extensions to the anticipated graduation date for students under the age of 21.