Homeschooling in NYC: The Regulations Are Actually Quite Simple

Over the years, we have helped a number of families homeschool their children and so we have had to learn the NYC homeschooling procedures for families.Amazingly, shockingly, unbelievably, we are actually totally flabbergasted to report that they are quite simple and straightforward and easy to navigate. I am just going to go over them here.
In summary, a homeschooling family has to do four rather simple things:

  1. Send a letter to the NYC Homeschooling office to tell them you plan to homeschool your child.
  2. Fill out a curriculum plan that the Homeschooling office will send to you.
  3. File a quarterly report every quarter that assures the office that you are still homeschooling your child and working through your plan.
  4. File a narrative or quantative assessment at the end of the year that explains to the Homeschooling office that made satisfactory steps towards your educational goals.

This is all explained rather clearly at the NYC homeschooling website here.

I will go over these in greater detail.

1. The letter of intent. This is really simple. You simply send this within two weeks of beginning your homeschooling.  If you have moved into the city and are beginning in the middle of the year that’s fine. All it has to say is your name and address and the below.

We are sending this letter of intent as required of Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education. We intend to homeschool our son/daughter, ___________________, who will be entering grade ___, for the 20__-20__ school year.

Then this is sent to NYC Central Office of Homeschooling, 333 7th Avenue 7th Fl., New York, NY 10001

2. The curriculum plan. The curriculum plan is called the IHIP, aka the “Individualized Home Instruction Plan.” The IHIP goes over what subjects you plan on covering with your child and what materials you plan to use to cover them.  The key ingredient to filling out an IHIP appropriately is making sure that you have listed on it all of the required subjects that are mandated by NY State law. These subjects can be found by grade level one the NYC Homeschooling Office website here: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/10010.html#d. For example, here is the heart of the elementary school guidance

“For grades one through six: arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, the English language, geography, United States history, science, health education, music, visual arts, physical education, bilingual education and/or English as a second language where the need is indicated.”

In our experience, so long as a goal for each subject is listed and some materials are listed, there really shouldn’t be any difficulties. The only thing to watch out for here is not to set goals too loftily Better, for example, to say that the goal in math is “to increase fluency with long division” than it is to say the goal is for a student to be able “to do long division problems in 30 seconds,” as the final narrative will have to answer the question: did my child meet his or her goals.

3. Quarterly Reports. These are, again, very simple and simply need to include the following:

  1. the number of hours of instruction during said quarter;
  2. a description of the material covered in each subject listed in the IHIP;
  3. either a grade for the child in each subject or a written narrative evaluating the child’s progress; and
  4. a written explanation in the event that less than 80 percent of the amount of the course materials as set forth in the IHIP planned for that quarter has been covered in any subject.

A few key things to point out here:

  • the total number of hours for the year is listed on the website and has been 9 units of 6480 minutes each for the full year. Accordingly, it should be divided into quarters for the purposes of the quarterly report.
  • do note that the main red flag for the DOE is whether or not the student progressed towards his or her goals. Thus, it’s important to write goals on the IHIP in such a way as to be something that can be confidently aquired through time – again “increasing fluency” is a better goal than x,y,z results…

4. The narrative or quantitative explanation. For students in elementary school (until 4th grade) a simple narrative will suffice. Once in 4th grade, students need to take a “commercially published norm-referenced achievement test” at least every other year. Again, the DOE Homeschooling office explains this in detail here: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/10010.html#h

If a student is taking an achievement test for their final results, they simply need to achieve either of the below results:

  • the student has a composite score above the 33rd percentile on national norms; or
  • the student’s score reflects one academic year of growth as compared to a test administered during or subsequent to the prior school year.

If a narrative is being written instead of an achievement test being given, the Homeschooling Office requires the below:

the person who prepares the written narrative shall be a New York State-certified teacher, a home instruction peer group review panel, or other person, who has interviewed the child and reviewed a portfolio of the child’s work. Such person shall certify either that the child has made adequate academic progress or that the child has failed to make adequate progress. In the event that such child has failed to make adequate progress, the home instruction program shall be placed on probation pursuant to subdivision (i) of this section. The certified teacher, peer review panel or other person shall be chosen by the parent with the consent of the superintendent. Any resulting cost shall be borne by the parent.

And that’s it in terms of regulations and red tape.

Of course, there are a million other things to think about, from educational philosophy to who the teacher(s) will be, to discovering what really makes your child tick, and we love love love working through all of this with parents . The good news is that from a administrative perspective, the steps are quite straightforward.

Have you or your kids struggled with this? If so, we'd love to hear about it and strategies you took to overcome it in the comments below!

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