Public Policy Position on Institutional Independence

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) believes independent schools must have the freedom to:

  • Define their missions and education philosophies to provide the best possible learning experience for their students.
  • Design curricula and academic programs that best serve their students’ needs, and adopt pedagogical approaches that enhance learning outcomes.
  • Develop policies and procedures that recognize that each school is unique. Individual schools must choose the best practices to ensure successful operations and education. 
  • Adopt admissions procedures that reflect the mission of their school and that attract students whose needs will be met by the educational program offered. Each school strives to create an environment in which each student's potential can be more fully nurtured and his or her challenges addressed.
  • Establish job requirements and expectations for the performance of teachers in order to recruit and retain talented, qualified teachers who are accountable for their teaching performance.

Institutional Independence Legislative Initiatives

NAIS supports policies that:

  • Protect the autonomy of independent schools and ensure their self-governance, including defining and carrying out their educational missions, policies, and procedures without interference.
  • Encourage strong and transparent governance and best practices for tax-exempt organizations.
  • Oppose federal or state standards that could limit academic freedom and the diversity of academic programs.
  • Preserve independent schools' selective admission processes that are designed to attract students who will be best served by each school and the educational program offered.
  • Retain the ability of independent schools to hire high-quality teachers and establish their job requirements and expectations.
  • Maintain independent school autonomy in operational, governance, instructional, academic, and athletic programs and practices.
  • Allow independent schools to provide appropriate student assessment and evaluation based on the school’s mission and the child's educational needs, and to share resultant information only with relevant parties identified by the school.

Perspectives on Institutional Independence

NAIS member schools are committed to:

  • Distinct missions that mirror each school's unique educational goals and purpose.
  • Articulating self-determined curricula and academic programs that best serve students.
  • Clear admissions policies that reflect each school's mission.
  • Hiring faculty based on the school's mission and criteria for excellence
  • Encouraging each stakeholder -- students, parents, teachers, and administrators -- to actively participate and help realize student growth.
  • An independent school accreditation process that encourages institutional growth and improvement and provides quality assurance to the public-at-large.
  • Providing an excellent and exceptional education for students that reflects each school’s mission.

Who We Are

The National Association of Independent Schools provides services to more than 1,800 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad, including  more than 1,500 nonprofit, independent private K-12 schools in the U.S. that are self-determining in mission and program and are governed by independent boards. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact Jefferson Burnett at or (202) 973-9714.