National Association of Independent Schools
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The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a U.S.-based membership organization for private, nonprofit, K-12 schools. Founded in 1963, NAIS represents independent schools and associations in the United States, including day, boarding, and day/boarding schools; elementary and secondary schools; boys', girls', and coeducational schools. NAIS has affiliate members internationally as well.
NAIS's mission is to be the national voice of independent schools and the center for collective action on their behalf.
As of the 2010-11 school year, NAIS represented approximately 1,400 member independent schools and associations in the US, serving more than 562,000 students and 121,000 teachers, administrators, and other staff.
Membership in NAIS is open to independent pre-college schools that are operated by nonprofit organizations. To become a full member of NAIS, a school must have operated for at least five years and must be accredited by an accrediting organization approved by NAIS.
NAIS Commission on Accreditation
The NAIS Commission on Accreditation was established by the NAIS Board of Trustees in 2001 in response to requests from several independent school state and regional accrediting associations; it convened for the first time in 2002. The 24-member Commission’s work is intended to assure the quality of independent school accrediting programs.
Purpose of the NAIS Commission on Accreditation
The NAIS Board charged the commission to develop criteria for effective independent school accreditation practices, exemplary standards, and models of successful accreditation policies and procedures; to engage in research to inform accreditation practice; and to promote, through advocacy efforts, public understanding of and credibility for independent school accrediting programs.
Operating Protocols and Accountability
The commission, which is guided by operating protocols, has 20 members from NAIS independent school accrediting associations, two at-large members, and two NAIS Board members. It meets twice a year, with committee work conducted as needed.
The member associations of the commission are accountable to one another through a process patterned on the independent school accreditation model. Over the course of a 10-year cycle, associations will 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 will use the Model Core Standards — a set of “ideal” standards — in assessing their own, host a visit from peers on the commission, receive recommendations from the commission, and engage in follow-up activities designed to improve the accreditation process. As with school accreditation, this will serve two purposes: institutional improvement and quality assurance.
Accrediting organizations which are members of the NAIS Commission on Accreditation include the U.S. state and regional accreditation organizations for pre-college schools and the following associations that are association members of NAIS:
- Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS)
- Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools (AIMS)
- California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS/CA)
- Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS/CAN)
- Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS/CT)
- Council of International Schools (CIS)
- Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS)
- Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS)
- New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS)
- New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS)
- Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS)
- Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS)
- Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE)
- Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS)
- Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS)
- Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS)
- Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools (SAES)
- Canadian Accredited Independent Schools, formerly Standards in Excellence And Learning (SEAL)
- Education in the United States
- Environment of the United States
- Environmental groups and resources serving K–12 schools
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