You are here

Home » FAQs » Accreditation


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

Ask the school if and how they are accredited. You can then contact the accrediting body to confirm accreditation (see: Who accredits Washington schools?)

Accreditation is voluntary for both public and private schools in Washington. Because accreditation isn’t a state-required process, there is no statewide list of accredited schools.

2. What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a voluntary process for granting public recognition to institutions that meet external standards of quality. It is a process a school undertakes to create a valid, credible reputation among fellow institutions, students and the public. Accreditation is a peer review process that is intended to help schools develop their strengths, ensure effective governance, and provide the best educational experiences for their students. The primary objective of accreditation is ongoing school improvement.

3. Who accredits Washington schools?

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

The state's nine ESDs, through the Association of Educational Service Districts, have designed a collaborative accreditation process that combines both internal and external appraisal of a school's school improvement plan and activities.

SBE recognizes the following accrediting bodies.

Recognized Accrediting Bodies
ACSI Association of Christian Schools International
AMS American Montessori Society
AWSNA Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
CSI Christian Schools International
NLSA National Lutheran School Accreditation
NWAC Northwest Accreditation Commission (associated with AdvancED)
NWAIS Northwest Association of Independent Schools
SDA Seventh Day Adventist
WCEA Western Catholic Education Association

4. What is approval?

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

Public school districts maintain approval through Basic Education Act Compliance, and private schools are approved annually by the State Board of Education.

5. 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, and instruction designed to meet minimum state graduation requirements. Private school approval procedures are detailed on the SBE Private School Webpage.

Private schools that have been approved may seek accreditation. The annual approval process is simpler for accredited schools than for non-accredited schools, since accreditation attests that the school has met some of the requirements for approval.


6. How do I tell if a school is an approved private school in Washington?

A searchable list of currently approved private schools is available on the SBE Private Schools webpage. Additional questions may be directed to

Last updated: January 2019