Public and Private School Accreditation and Approval Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: April 2015
SBE establishes accreditation procedures and recognizes accrediting bodies for approved private schools.
Accreditation is a voluntary process for granting public recognition to institutions that meet external standards of quality.
Schools can choose whether to seek accreditation. State law does not require public or private schools in Washington to be accredited.
Approval is a mandatory quality assurance process to confirm that a school/district is meeting the basic education requirements of the state. State law requires all schools in Washington to be approved in order to provide education. Schools must be approved before they can seek accreditation.
Approval is mandatory; accreditation is voluntary.
Public school districts must document annually that they meet the minimum requirements for total instructional hour offerings, 180-day school year, and the state-mandated graduation requirements. This documentation is called Basic Education Act compliance.
Private schools must document annually that they meet minimum requirements for health and safety, total instructional hours, certified teachers, 180-day school year, curriculum that includes instruction in designated basic skills in sufficient units to meet State Board of Education graduation requirements, and administrative policies. Private school approval procedures are detailed on OSPI's website.
Students who attend Washington private schools that are not approved are considered truant, unless the student is also engaged in one of the following activities:
Washington schools typically seek accreditation through the AdvancED, Educational Service Districts (ESDs), or other recognized accrediting bodies.
AdvancED. AdvancED uses a performance-based accreditation process that provides institutions with a more comprehensive analysis to drive continuous improvement. The AdvancED Standards for Quality and the accreditation process provides the foundation for internal and external review in the context of a school's unique mission, goals and practices. The AdvancED Accreditation Protocol is a balanced, systematic approach combining Standards, stakeholder feedback and student performance to empower schools to maximize their strength and resources while improving efficiency throughout.
Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD). The state's nine ESDs, through their association, have designed a collaborative accreditation process that combines both internal and external appraisal of the school's school improvement planning activities and School Improvement Plan (SIP).
The process requires schools to conduct an in-depth self-evaluation of their SIP and a companion evaluation of the school improvement planning process used to develop the plan. An ESD accreditation process team then conducts a review and schedules a one-day visit to verify understandings of the SIP and the planning process. For more information please contact your local Educational Service District.
SBE recognizes the following accrediting bodies.