FAQ - Accreditation
accreditation FAQ

 

Public and Private School Accreditation and Approval Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: April 2015

  1. How do I find out if a school is accredited?
  2. What is accreditation?
  3. Who accredits Washington schools?
  4. What is approval?
  5. What does approval mean for public schools?
  6. What does approval mean for private schools?
  7. What is the role of the State Board of Education in accreditation and approval?

1.  1. How do I find out if a school is accredited?

Ask your school if and how they’re accredited. You can then contact the accrediting body to confirm accreditation.

Washington schools must be must be approved, but accreditation is voluntary. Because accreditation isn’t a state-required process, there is no statewide list of accredited schools.

Public schools maintain approval through Basic Education Act Compliance.

Private Schools apply for and are recommended to SBE for approval by OSPI.


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2.  What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a voluntary process for granting public recognition to institutions that meet external standards of quality.

Schools can choose whether to seek accreditation. State law does not require public or private schools in Washington to be accredited. Schools must be approved by the state board of education.

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3.   Who accredits Washington schools?

Washington public or private schools voluntarily seek accreditation through AdvancED, Educational Service Districts (ESDs), or other recognized accrediting bodies.

AdvancED uses a performance-based accreditation process that provides institutions with a more comprehensive analysis to drive continuous improvement.

Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD). The state's nine ESDs, through their association, have designed a collaborative accreditation process that combines both internal and external appraisal of the school's school improvement planning activities and School Improvement Plan (SIP).

SBE also recognizes the following accrediting bodies.

Recognized Accrediting Bodies
ACSI Association of Christian Schools International Accredits Nationally
AMS American Montessori Society Accredits Nationally
AWSNA Association of Waldorf Schools of North America Accredits Nationally
CSI Christian Schools International Accredits Nationally
NLSA National Lutheran School Accreditation Accredits Nationally
NWAIS Northwest Association of Independent Schools Accredits Regionally
SDA Seventh Day Adventist Accredits Nationally and Regionally
WCEA Western Catholic Education Association Accredits Regionally

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4.  What is approval?

Approval is a mandatory quality assurance process to confirm that a school or district meets the basic education requirements of the state. State law requires all schools in Washington to be approved in order to provide education. Schools must be approved before they can seek accreditation.

Public schools maintain approval through Basic Education Act Compliance.

Private Schools apply for and are recommended to SBE for approval by OSPI.

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5.   What does approval mean for public schools?

Public school districts must annually document through the Basic Education Act compliance report that they meet the minimum requirements for total instructional hour offerings, 180-day school year, and the state-mandated graduation requirements.

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6.  What does approval mean for private schools?

Private schools must document annually that they meet minimum requirements for health and safety, total instructional hours, certified teachers, 180-day school year, curriculum that includes instruction in designated basic skills in sufficient units to meet State Board of Education graduation requirements, and administrative policies. Private school approval procedures are detailed on OSPI's website.

Students who attend Washington private schools that are not approved are considered truant, unless the student is also engaged in one of the following activities:

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7.  What is the role of the State Board of Education in accreditation and approval?

SBE annually:

Reviews every public school district's kindergarten through twelfth grade program to determine compliance with basic education program approval requirements (WAC 180-16-195).
Approves private schools to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements to ensure health and safety and a sufficient basic education to meet graduation requirements (RCW 28A.195.010).

SBE does not accredit public or private schools. SBE establishes accreditation procedures and recognizes accrediting bodies for private schools. No state agency is required to recognize accrediting bodies for public schools, although many are recognized because they also accredit private schools.

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