Substantial Equivalency Review (SER) Service
- March 2022 - NY State Education Department proposed regulations regarding the statutory requirement for substantial equivalency of instruction for students attending nonpublic schools to ensure that all students receive the education to which they are entitled under the law. The Board of Regents discussed the proposed regulations at its March 2022 meeting. The proposed rulemaking will be published on March 30, 2022, and the public comment period will run through May 31, 2022. It is expected the final regulation will come before the Board of Regents for its consideration in fall 2022. Click for more detail
- May 10, 2021 - NY State Education Department releases a report summerizing feedback on substantial equivalence of instruction in nonpublic schools gathered during six regional meetings held last fall. The feedback gathered will be used to inform revised proposed regulations. Click for more detail
- October 27, 2020 - NY State Education Department announced that it will hold a series of regional meetings to engage and gather input from stakeholders in religious, independent and public schools, to inform policy decisions related to the substantial equivalence of instruction in nonpublic schools as required by Education Law Section 3204(2). The Department is conducting these regional meetings that will take place virtually. Click for more detail
- Spring 2019 - The state Supreme Court justice suspended Substantial Equivalency guidelines. Click for more detail
Nassau BOCES Substantial Equivalency Review will provide support to participating districts in evaluating nonpublic schools within their geographical boundaries. Education Law §§3204, 3205, and 3210 require the Local School Authority (LSA) to ensure that students of compulsory school age (from six to sixteen or seventeen years of age) who reside within the boundaries of their school district are receiving an education. Local public-school officials must ensure that the education received by students is substantially equivalent to that received in district public schools. Nassau BOCES, at the request of districts, will provide assistance in reviewing non-public schools.
Based on the regulations Nassau BOCES will make a recommendation to determine if the non-public schools are substantially equivalent regarding instructional practices. The results of the review will be reported to the Local Education Agency (LEA). In collaboration with the LEA, Nassau BOCES will, if necessary, review the non-public and attempt to remediate instructional practices so the school can move toward substantial equivalency.
The LSAs are responsible for substantial equivalency determinations except in the case of registered high schools, state-approved private special education schools, state-operated and state-supported schools, which are already subject to Department review, and nonpublic schools for which the Commissioner is required to make a substantial equivalency determination pursuant to Education Law § 3204(2)(ii)-(iii). Registered high schools have been reviewed and visited by SED staff as part of the authorization process to administer Regents examinations and Regents diplomas. Therefore, registered high schools do not require a review.
While conducting such reviews, the LSA must use the criteria outlined in the regulation. For schools that meet the criteria for a Commissioner’s final determination, the LSA conducts the review using the appropriate criteria and makes a recommendation to the Commissioner for his/her final determination. If there are concerns about the substantial equivalency of the instruction, the regulation recommends, among other things, that the LSA and nonpublic school work collaboratively to develop a clear plan and timeline, including benchmarks and targets, for attainting substantial equivalency in an amount of time that is reasonable given the concerns identified. After careful review and consideration of the information provided, Nassau BOCES will inform the superintendent and the board of education in writing of the recommended determination. The LSA should send written notification to the administration of the nonpublic school and provide a letter for the nonpublic school to distribute to parents. The LSA must notify State Office of Religious and Independent Schools (SORIS) of the positive determination.