New York State Association of Independent Schools
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The New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), founded in 1947, is an association of 189 independent schools, ranging from nursery to high schools. NYSAIS is the second largest state association of independent schools in the United States and, in 2013, its member schools enrolled approximately 78,000 students. It was originally established, "to protect independent schools from obstructive legislation and regulation". NYSAIS accredits its member schools, provides professional development, and works with community leaders to support the needs and interests of independent schools throughout the state. NYSAIS is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) as well the NAIS Commission on Accreditation.
Mission Statement: The New York State Association of Independent Schools promotes the independence, well-being, and public understanding of, and respect for, New York independent schools and serves as an accrediting body chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.
To accomplish its mission, the New York State Association of Independent Schools:
- Establishes the criteria which reflect the values and best educational practices for evaluating and accrediting member schools.
- Promotes professional growth of teachers, administrators, and trustees through workshops, conferences, and exchanges.
- Informs and counsels the leadership at member schools in matters of legislation and regulation.
- Facilitates the development of cooperative projects among member schools and between member schools and public schools.
- Fosters mutually beneficial relations with the New York State Education Department, the National Association of Independent Schools, other educational associations, and the general public.
- Informs member schools about significant practices and developments in independent education.
- Provides such other services as will benefit the member schools and the communities they serve.
NYSAIS has four (4) membership categories which include Full Membership, Provisional Membership, Associate Membership, and Association Membership.
A Full Member is an independent nursery/kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school that is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that has served as a Provisional Member prior to becoming a Full Member. Prior to becoming a Full Member, the school must have been operating as an independent nursery/kindergarten,elementary, or secondary school for at least five (5) years, must adhere to NYSAIS criteria of non-discrimination in hiring and admissions; and must be accredited by the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation.
A Provisional Member is an independent nursery/kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school elected as such by the Board of Trustees and which is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and is willing and able to meet the standards for full membership and accreditation within five (5) years of its election as a Provisional Member. Provisional Members must adhere to NYSAIS criteria of non-discrimination in hiring and admissions.
An Associate Member is an independent educational organization that is not an incorporated not-for-profit, such as a proprietary school, whose standards are neither accredited nor endorsed by NYSAIS, but is located in the State of New York and is accredited by an accrediting body acceptable to the NYSAIS Trustees. Associate Member schools must adhere to the NYSAIS criteria of non-discrimination in hiring and admissions and be operated for five (5) consecutive years under the same ownership.
An Association Member is a nonprofit association concerned with independent school education elected as such by the NYSAIS Board of Trustees. Association Members are not entitled to vote and are not provided with legislative services.
All good schools continually evaluate their performance by means of their own devising. Without evaluation, an institution ossifies and, in a changing world, it loses its meaning for society. But the view a school takes of itself needs periodically to be supplemented by an external view, one that brings a perspective the school cannot command.
Formal evaluation combines self-scrutiny with external review by a committee of peers, both processes being guided by the NYSAIS Manual for Evaluation and Accreditation. The Manual gives structure, direction, and scope to the undertaking that goes beyond that which a school might ordinarily elect. The external review brings observations, comments, and suggestions possible only for those who are not immersed in the daily concerns of a school’s life.
The object in evaluation is to assist the school in better realizing its objectives, to support rather than to inspect, to enhance the school’s unique character rather than to impose a common design. Thus, a school is evaluated in terms of its own purposes and objectives, not those of some remote authority. This is fundamental.
The accreditation of the NYSAIS schools is overseen by the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation which is chaired by William G. Morris, Jr. (Friends Academy) and co-chaired by Kate Turley (City and Country School)and Robert D. Vitalo (The Berkeley Carroll School).
NYSAIS organizes conferences, workshops, and residential institutes for teachers, school heads, trustees, assistant and division heads,
business and financial managers, and administrators. A complete list of these, along with details and online registration, can be found in the NYSAIS Calendar of NYSAIS Events. Most of the residential conferences are held at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz.
The NYSAIS Council for Professional Learning and Collaboration (CPLC) works with the Associate Director of Accreditation on programs that include Beginning Teachers Institutes (BTI), Experienced Teachers Institutes (ETI), Emerging Leaders Institutes (ELI), as well as many workshops and conferences for teachers and administrators. Various collaborative efforts with neighboring state associations of independent schools add depth to the program. The CPLC works to interpret the needs of NYSAIS professionals, providing timely opportunities for education and networking.
Under the NYSAIS umbrella, the New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (NYSAISAA) is a sports league for independent schools in New York State. It is overseen by the Athletic Executive Committee (AEC) as well as the NYSAIS Board of Trustees.