International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation

Background and Purpose

The International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA), formerly the NAIS Commission on Accreditation, was established in July 2018 to provide quality assurance and accountability for the accreditation programs of its independent school member associations.

This is achieved through assisting member associations in:
  • Developing criteria for effective independent school accreditation practices;
  • Creating exemplary standards that promote continuous school improvement;
  • Disseminating models of successful accreditation policies and procedures; and
  • Engaging in research to inform its accreditation policies, standards and practices.
A principle purpose of ICAISA is developing a public understanding of, and respect for, the independent school accrediting programs of the member associations. As an international body, the ICAISA values the unique qualities and diversity of each member accrediting association. ICAISA recognizes differences among member associations in the range of schools served and respects variations in accreditation practice that are consistent with the criteria.
In addition, ICAISA examines and assesses the evolving educational environment, and acts as a catalyst in partnership with member associations in navigating significant change by:
  • Developing innovative accreditation practices;
  • Promoting transformative leadership in the accreditation field; and
  • Providing a vehicle for communication and cooperation among member associations.
Ultimately, through its dynamic partnerships with independent school accrediting associations, the work of the ICAISA strengthens independent school education.


The member associations of the ICAISA 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 Standards—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 followup activities designed to improve the state or regional accreditation process.

Accountability serves two purposes: ongoing association improvement and advancement, and the assurance of excellence in the accreditation process for member associations and their independent schools.