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


Requirements for All Categories of Membership

To apply for and retain membership in NWAIS, a school or educational program shall:

  • Place the health, safety, and well-being of children above all other interests
  • Be an autonomous organization, substantially free from governmental control, with sound governance structures, policies and practices
  • Have a mission and philosophy that define sound educational goals that are visible in operations and which guide decision-making at all levels
  • Demonstrate commitment to the common good through 501 (c) (3) status (Affiliate Members will be asked for other demonstrations of this commitment)
  • Pursue Accredited School status (if eligible)
  • Show a commitment to continuous improvement through participation in the association’s professional development programs
  • Have non-discrimination policies in admissions and employment that align with the association’s policies
  • Abide by the association’s Core Values
  • Be financially responsible
  • Educate children in pre-school to grade 12, or divisions thereof, not including either stand-alone pre-school, after school or post-graduate programs


Download a Chart of Member Benefits By Affiliation Level



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 Schools are voting member that have been accredited by the NWAIS Board of Governors upon recommendation of the Accreditation Committee

To be eligible for consideration of accreditation, schools must:

  • Be incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation

  • Have served as a Candidate Member prior to becoming a Full Member
  • Have operated as an independent pre-school/kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school for at least five (5) consecutive years
  • Adhere to NWAIS criteria of non-discrimination
  • Uphold the Core Values of the association


Candidate Schools are voting members that meet the standards for full membership and accreditation within five (5) years of its election as a Candidate Member

To be eligible for consideration of accreditation, schools must:

  • Be incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation
  • Adhere to NWAIS criteria of non-discrimination
  • Uphold the Core Values of the association
  • Meet and adhere to all other applicable requirements for association membership.



Subscriber Schools are non-voting members in the earliest stages of development.

To be eligible for consideration of accreditation, schools must:

  • Be incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation
  • Meet the standards for Candidate membership within five (5) years of becoming a Subscriber Member
  • Adhere to NWAIS criteria of non-discrimination
  • Uphold the Core Values of the association
  • Meet and adhere to all other applicable requirements for association membership


Affiliate Members are educational programs not meeting all the criteria for full accreditation.


Eligible Programs Must:

  • Adhere to NWAIS criteria of non-discrimination
  • Uphold the core values of the association
  • Meet and adhere to all other applicable requirements for membership.


Affiliate members are non-voting members is available for:
  • Newly founded (five years or less) schools that, when ready, may apply for Subscriber School status
  • Independent nursery/kindergarten, elementary, or secondary schools located outside the association’s region
  • Independent pre-K/kindergarten, elementary, or secondary schools located outside the United States
  • Educational programs/organizations that are specialized and may not graduate students or grant degrees

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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