We are committed to...
  • encouraging diverse points of view.
  • continuous reflection and on-going improvement.
  • collegial relationships and ethical leadership.
  • independent education options for families.
  • promoting the independence of our schools.
  • quality standards without standardization.
  • assisting schools in fulfilling their missions.

NWAIS Affiliation Levels

Does My School Fit In?

NWAIS’ different levels of affiliation make it possible for every school to find its perfect fit.

Guidelines for Schools Progressing Toward Accreditation

When a school becomes affiliated with NWAIS, it is assigned an affiliation category that is decided based on the findings of a school visit that determines the school’s compliance with NWAIS Core Values, Essential Characteristics, and compliance with NWAIS Standards. The affiliation categories are described below.

As a school progresses toward gaining Accredited Member status, it does so with the understanding that it must stay within each NWAIS affiliation category for at least 12 months prior to moving to the next category. A school may host a Visiting Team no earlier than 12 months after becoming a Candidate Member. Any school moving from one category to another must go through the Association’s normal application process that includes a visit by the NWAIS Executive Director.


Accredited Member

  • Are schools that have met the NWAIS Major Standards as determined by the NWAIS Accreditation Committee and the NWAIS Board of Governors.

  • Accreditation is maintained through the submission of a response report to the accreditation visiting team report, the yearly submission of the NWAIS Annual Report, and the successful completion of another self-study and accreditation visit eight years from the previous visit.


Candidate Member

  • Are schools the NWAIS Board of Governors have approved as being able to meet the NWAIS Major Standards within a five-year period.
  • Candidate Member must submit the NWAIS Annual Report and plan to host an accreditation visiting team within five years of joining the Association.


Subscriber School

  • Is a non-member category designed for schools in the earliest stages of development in relationship to the NWAIS Major Standards and good practices and for whom the ultimate goal is to gain Accredited Member status.

  • Before gaining accreditation, Subscriber Schools must become Candidate Members within a five year period by meeting the appropriate expectations for Candidate Members as outlined in the NWAIS Major Standards chart.


Founder School

  • Is a non-member category designed for individuals who are in the planning stages of starting a school or for a school that is in the first year of existence.
  • The school must be committed to applying as a Subscriber School no later than its second year of educating students and have the ultimate goal of gaining Accredited Member status.


Affiliate School

  • Are non-member schools located in British Columbia or educational programs located in our eight state region not meeting all of the criteria for school membership.

  • Affiliate schools may not pursue accreditation through NWAIS but must still support the Mission and Core Values of the Association and abide by the essential characteristics for NWAIS schools.

Benefits of Affiliation

  • Access to 30+ different professional development programs each year

  • Ability to become accredited by a nationally-recognized association

  • Opportunity to become a member of the National Association of Independent Schools

  • Connection to networks of colleagues across eight states and British Columbia

  • Access to extensive school statistical information and comparative data

  • Heightened visibility through our website and other joint marketing efforts

  • Updates on current topics that are impacting schools today

  • And many more!
  • Guiding
  • Inspiring
  • Advancing
Northwest Association of Independent Schools
5001 California Ave. SW, Suite 112
Seattle, Washington 98136
T: 206.323.6137 • dstone@nwais.org
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