Commission on Accreditation

Welcome from President Donna Orem

To be accredited by a member of NAIS's Commission on Accreditation signifies that a school has not only undergone a thorough standards-based review of its mission-centered program but that it is a part of an independent school community with a common commitment to education excellence.

Accreditation is more than a periodic school visit. For NAIS's Commission accreditors, it denotes a partnership that encourages and supports continuous institutional improvement. What makes independent school accreditation different from others is this unique and long-term relationship with each school.

NAIS's Commission on Accreditation comprises 20 accrediting bodies that have undergone a rigorous and impartial review of their accreditation programs and have demonstrated adherence to the NAIS Commission's Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices. I commend the quality of their programs and thank the Commission for its fine work on behalf of independent schools.

Donna Orem
President, NAIS

Background and Purpose

The NAIS Commission on Accreditation was established by the NAIS board of trustees in 2001 at the request of accrediting independent school state and regional associations, and convened for the first time in 2002. The commission’s work is intended to assure the quality of independent school accrediting programs.

A primary responsibility of the Commission is to develop a public understanding of, and credibility for, state and regional independent school accrediting programs. In addition, the Commission:

  • Develops criteria for effective independent school accreditation practices, exemplary standards, and models of successful accreditation policies and procedures; and
  • Engages in research to inform accreditation practice.


The member associations of the commission are accountable to one another through a process patterned on the independent school accreditation model. Over the course of a 10-year cycle, associations prepare a self-study demonstrating compliance with the Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices. The criteria provide common ground for member associations by delineating best practices, policies, and procedures. In addition, associations use the Model Core Stand‚Äčards (PDF) — a set of “ideal” standards — in assessing their own standards.

As part of the process of “accrediting the accreditors,” each member association:

  • Hosts a visit from a team composed of Commission members;
  • Receives written recommendations from the Commission; and
  • Engages in follow-up activities designed to improve the state or regional accreditation process.

As with school accreditation, this will serve two purposes: institutional improvement and quality assurance.