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.

How to Apply

How Can I Join NWAIS?

Does your school share our Core Values? Do our Essential Characteristics of NWAIS Schools describe your school? If your answer is “Yes” to those questions, then the time has come to join our growing association of 115 schools serving over 19,000 students. See where your school fits in by using our comprehensive Accreditation Rubric.

Affiliation Vs. Accreditation

NWAIS has several categories of schools and educational programs. Schools apply for affiliation or to join the path to accreditation and are admitted as an affiliate, subscriber or candidate school. Affiliate schools are the only level not eligible for accreditation. All other levels are assessed based on their path to accreditation, and are expected to steadily move forward in the process.

Schools become accredited by moving through the path to accreditation (Subscriber>Candidate>Accredited). Accredited schools complete an intensive process of self and peer evaluation. The process is rooted in a series of standards, developed by NWAIS, and based on Independent School best practices. The process is intense, reflective, growth-based and is powerful in its ability to move schools forward in their development.

Get Started

Schools seeking accreditation through NWAIS may apply for one of three affiliation categories as outlined in our Benefits of Affiliation or Membership Chart. The appropriate category for the school will be determined using:

  • The school’s application material
  • An on-site assessment of the school by the NWAIS Executive Director
  • Discussions with the school's Head and representative board members about the school’s stage of development
  • The school’s commitment to meet the obligations of NWAIS membership

Schools or educational programs not pursuing accreditation but interested in raising their visibility and benefiting from NWAIS’ resources may apply as an Affiliate. An on-site assessment by the NWAIS Executive Director is required for this level of affiliation.

How Does the School Visit and Approval Process Work?

The NWAIS Executive Director’s visit to the school will focus on the following aspects:

  • Mission and philosophy
  • Institutional leadership and administrative organization
  • Financial viability and sustainability
  • Faculty and overall program
  • Admissions policy
  • Physical plant
  • Commitment to NWAIS core values
  • Compliance with NWAIS essential characteristics

If, in the view of NWAIS Executive Director, the applicant school meets the criteria for membership, the Executive Director will approve the school as a Subscriber School.

The school will be able to apply for a move to candidate status when, in the view of NWAIS Executive Director, the applicant school has the capacity to meet the NWAIS Major Standards within a five-year period.

NWAIS Membership Dues

NWAIS understands that simplicity within the dues structure is important. We assess a flat fee for membership, based on affiliation category, while charging a percentage of the school's operating expense.

  • Accredited and Candidate Member Schools are assessed a base fee of $3000 or .0014% of their annual operating budget.
  • Subscriber Schools are assessed a flat fee of $2,000
  • Affiliates are assessed a flat fee of $1,500

What are the Obligations of NWAIS Membership?

  1. Submission of the NWAIS Annual Report, which illustrates the school’s commitment to on-going school improvement, by October 1st of each year (Affiliate Schools are exempt).

  2. Submission of key school statistical data through the DASL program of the National Association of Independent Schools (Accredited, Candidate and Subscriber Schools, only).

  3. Provision of an annual update on key school personnel for inclusion in the NWAIS School and Staff Directory.

  4. All Accredited and Candidate Member schools are required to be represented at the Fall and Spring Heads Meetings.

  5. Payment of Annual Dues as determined by a formula based upon a school's operating expenses. To calculate your schools’ dues, download the NWAIS Association Dues and Travel Policy.

How Do I Begin the NWAIS Application Process?

  1. Complete and submit the online Application for NWAIS Affiliation. Make sure to upload the requested supporting materials.

  2. Email Betsy Watkins at bwatkins@nwais.org to schedule a time for NWAIS' Executive Director to visit your school

  3. Submit your school's application fee via Visa, Mastercard or check.

What Supporting Materials Do I Need as Part of My NWAIS Application?

  1. Copies of the bylaws, articles of incorporation or constitution

  2. A roster of trustees, directors or other governing bodies. A copy of the agenda and minutes from the school’s two most recent board meetings. A copy of the school’s strategic plan or major planning document, if applicable

  3. A copy of the previous year’s budget and year-end actuals. A copy of the current academic year budget

  4. Candidate Member applicants must submit a full, independent, opinion-level audit for a fiscal year ending within 18 months of the date of the application and a plan indicating how the school will address issues raised in the management letter

  5. A list of faculty including position and degrees

  6. A statistical breakdown of enrollment (by grade, gender, and ethnicity) and financial aid and tuition remission awards (by grade)

  7. A sample admissions packet. If this packet does not include an overview of the school's curriculum, please send this as well

  8. Honest assessment of the school’s development in relation to the NWAIS Standards of Accreditation. This assessment, using the NWAIS Accreditation Rubric, is usually completed by the Head of School and/or administrative team.

Still Have Questions?

Please contact NWAIS Executive Director Mark Crotty with any questions or concerns you may have regarding becoming a member of NWAIS.

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 • info@nwais.org
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