BPSS Curriculum Guideline: Distance Learning

These Guidelines concern NYSED and/or BPSS expectations for curriculum review. Prior to submitting your new curriculum for review, please make sure to follow the instructions and advice below:

General Technicalities

  • When uploading curriculum material to my.ny.gov, always use the <Coursework Details> tab instead of <Other> or  <Miscellaneous>.
  • For new distance education and blended curriculums, note that it generally takes longer than 90 days for approval. Note that Blended Learning means that some parts of a curriculum are taught online, and other parts of that curriculum are taught in a classroom.
  • It is advisable to first discuss with the BPSS Curriculum Unit if distance learning is feasible considering the subject matter. You MUST prepare a working prototype of the course when you submit the application. The BPSS curriculum evaluator MUST be able to log in and go through the online course.
  • If a given curriculum has already been approved for classroom teaching, that curriculum MUST be approved separately for distance delivery, since the manner of delivery affects the course in essential ways.
  • Curriculum title MUST be descriptive and clear, with NO advertising (so no “the best online coding program” or “distance learning for medical assistants”). The word Distance or Online MUST be part of the course title.

General Content

  • The entrance requirements MUST ensure that the student has the ability to understand and progress in the course of study. This usually can be documented by a High School Diploma/GED/TASC, but also, depending on the type of curriculum, an Ability-to-Benefit test, or a professional certificate. For certain curricula, other ways of assessing student readiness may be used by the school, provided that the school can demonstrate satisfactorily that such assessments will achieve this purpose.
  • The vocational objectives of the program shall be reasonably attainable and be of such nature that they can be achieved through distance education. The learning objectives shall, where appropriate to the nature and type of the program, be comparable to similar programs that are NOT delivered by distance education. The BPSS curriculum evaluator may ask, as part of the approval process, potential employers to confirm that equivalency in writing.
  • The institution shall disclose in the online classroom its approval status, and make available the name, address, and telephone number of the New York State Education Department, Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision. The institution shall also provide a hypertext mark-up language link (HTML) to the BPSS website.
  • Adequate provisions and safeguards, to ensure the security and integrity of student information, tests, and evaluations, shall be used. Suitable arrangements to authenticate the identity of students taking tests, including any admissions tests or evaluations, shall be used.
  • To allow for an exact determination of a student’s last day of attendance, it is advised that the subject units should become available to the student only sequentially (a new module should be opened only after satisfactorily passing the previous one).

Method of Instruction

  • Instruction implies student-teacher interaction through blogs, feedback on assignments, and email/phone. Curriculum without such interaction CANNOT count as instructional hours. Student-to-student interaction, as through a blog, is strongly advised. It must be archived as well.
  • The program shall provide for appropriate real-time (synchronous) or delayed (asynchronous) interaction between faculty and students.
  • A distance education course, whether synchronous or asynchronous, MUST have a classroom on the internet (learning management system) – with information about the course, how to reach the school administration, the reading materials, expected equipment, exercises that must be stored and archived – in addition to the teaching delivery itself, which, in the case of synchronous delivery, may be unrecorded, just as oral classroom instruction is not recorded. But, just as oral instruction is delivered in a classroom, oral instruction by distance MUST also be delivered in a classroom setting, but online. The distance course MUST also allow for monitoring and archiving student attendance, i.e. log-ins, and class work.
  • A pre-class distance education module without student-teacher interaction CANNOT count as instructional hour, but can count as a prerequisite for taking the course.
  • The instructor MUST be employed by the school that enrolls the student. Any mentor or teacher provided by a vendor of ready-to-use distance courses (so-called “canned courses”) CANNOT be the mentor/teacher of record of a BPSS-approved distance class.
  • The number of instructional hours assigned to curriculum in distance learning are somewhat notional. However, you MUST be able to justify the number of hours assigned to each module and the curriculum in general. You will probably need the advice of experts in distance education to set these hours.

Textbooks and Instructional Aids

  • Include the software name, with version. Listing “software from the textbook” is unacceptable — you need to specify the programs and versions.
  • Materials, other than standard textbooks produced by recognized publishers, shall be prepared by educators skilled in preparing materials for distance education use.
  • Outside resources, electronic databases, and other library access features shall be readily available to learners, and the curricula design actively encourages learners to use these resources to acquire knowledge and skills.

Content Outline and Performance Objectives

  • The Content Outline (formerly 21a on the BPSS paper application) presents the content of each unit in the curriculum, in a list-like format. Use it to show how students progress through the curriculum. The Performance Objectives (formerly 21b) describe how the teacher tests student mastery of the subject matter, through quizzes/tests and/or assignments. When writing performance objectives, use words such as “student will identify, list, describe” that are amenable to measurement, and NOT words such as “discuss” or “understand” that cannot be quantified. You need to set a passing score, including when you choose a pass/fail grading option.

Online Technology

  • The institution shall use appropriate technology in the process of enhancing distance learning, and will routinely update its technology infrastructure. It is highly recommended that the institution’s budget shall include adequate provision for maintaining and continuous upgrading of appropriate technology used in a distance learning environment.
  • The school shall upload a separate page with the technical specifications of the course – the URL with the site hosting it, and the mirror site – as well as information on where course data is archived, and complete details on the school’s liaison person whom BPSS should contact if it shall need access to course information, both past and present.
  • The institution shall provide learners with the information and training needed to access and use the distance education course. It will offer the resources to serve students in a timely manner when technical difficulties arise. It MUST also provide training, as needed, for its faculty/staff who will use the technology.
  • The school shall work to ensure, as much as possible, that the course is protected against malware, to prevent student and the school computers from getting infected.


  • For reapprovals/amendments, indicate any and all changes in a letter uploaded under . Upload the complete, previously approved, curriculum (including approval letter) in one PDF under . Then upload the revised/amended curriculum as a second PDF.

General Caveats

• Note that NO BPSS CURRICULUM APPROVAL, EVEN WHEN GIVEN IN ERROR, CAN OVERRIDE THE LAW! You MUST be familiar with the legal requirements in your offering.

Any further questions, please contact bpsscurriculum@nysed.gov