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Substantial Equivalency

Substantial Equivalency Implementation Guidance

Topics covered:

  • Terminology
  • Substantial Equivalency Pathways 
    • Pathway 1: Registered High Schools
    • Pathway 2: State Approved Private Special Education Schools, State-Operated or State-Supported School
    • Pathway 3: Accreditation
    • Pathway 4: International Baccalaureate Programs
    • Pathway 5: Federally Approved Schools
    • Pathway 6: Assessments
    • Pathway 7: Local Reviews
  • Criteria for Substantial Equivalency Reviews
  • Substantial Equivalency Review & Determination Process
  • Timeframes
  • Safeguards



The Substantial Equivalence Accreditor Application should be completed by those entities seeking to become an approved accrediting agency for religious and independent schools looking to utilize pathway 3 to be deemed substantially equivalent. Please refer to the Substantial Equivalency Implementation Guidance for more details.

A list of approved accreditors will be coming soon.


Standardized assessments are those that employ a systematic method of gathering information from objectively scored items that allow the test taker to select one or more of the given options or choices as their response.

The Substantial Equivalence New Assessment Consideration Application should be completed by those seeking to utilize assessment pathway 6 to be deemed substantially equivalent. Please refer to the Substantial Equivalency Implementation Guidance for more details.

New York State Education Department Currently Approved State Assessments for Substantial Equivalency (SE) Pathway 6

Local School Authority (LSA)

The regulation requires that “by September 1, 2023* (each September 1 thereafter): LSA will report (1) all the nonpublic schools that serve compulsory age children (from age 6 to 16 in most jurisdictions, age 17 in others) within their geographical boundaries and (2) the date of the last substantial equivalency determination made for each nonpublic school to the Department via the NYSED Business Portal or another electronic portal as determined by the Department. Such report must include all nonpublic schools within the LSA geographic boundaries, even nonpublic schools without basic educational data system (BEDS) codes.” Please refer to the Substantial Equivalency Implementation Guidance for more details.

*The initial date has been extended to October 9, 2023.

For directions on how to fulfill this reporting requirement, please see the LSA Religious & Independent School Survey Instructions.

The School Districts: Active School District Superintendent Contact Info and Institution URL report is updated daily and can be found on the SED Public Reports Portal.

Information on the process by which LSAs will conduct reviews will be coming soon.

SE Complaints

Pursuant to section 130.11 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner has the discretion to direct a LSA or Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to investigate a nonpublic school if the Commissioner has cause for concern regarding the substantial equivalence of instruction at such nonpublic school, either based on a complaint or some other source of information.

Please use the SE Complaints form for the submission of specific complaints regarding SE issues about religious and independent schools. 


Previous Updates

July 28, 2023 Update:

Substantial Equivalency Implementation Guidance


September 2022 Update:

The proposed addition of Part 130 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to Substantially Equivalent Instruction for Nonpublic School Students was adopted at the September 2022 Board of Regents Meeting. These amendments go into effect September 28, 2022. Guidance will be published in the near future.


June 2022 Update:

 The New York 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 meetingThe presentation from the Board discussion is available here.

The proposed rulemaking was published in the State Register on March 30, 2022, and the public comment period ran through May 31, 2022. It is expected the final regulation will come before the Board of Regents for its consideration in fall 2022.


May 2021 Update:

Determining Substantial Equivalence of Instruction for Nonpublic School Students in New York State: A Summary of Stakeholder Feedback