Accreditation and professional affiliations and associations indicate a private school has been evaluated by and met or exceeded specific criteria set forth by a designated and agreed-upon accrediting- or affiliation-granting body.

These accreditations, affiliations, and associations can be national, regional, or local, covering religious beliefs, educational philosophies, or special interests and last for a specific number of years, often with prescribed steps in the interim to assure compliance. What they have in common is that they serve as a sort of stamp of approval, signifying to colleges and universities that their members operate schools with meaningful education standards.

 “Accrediting is done by a variety of accrediting organizations,” points out the California Department of Education online (, citing the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or WASC, as an example of an established organization that accredits both private and public K–12 schools. “WASC accreditation generally ensures that the credits and diploma awarded by the schools it accredits will be accepted by colleges and prospective employers,” says the CDE, which does not accredit schools.

WASC is one of five regional accrediting associations for schools and colleges, and its territory includes schools operating in California.

“School accreditation is a peer-review process that fosters excellence in education and encourages school improvement through discovery, dialogue, compliance, and commitment. Accreditation enables a member school to develop clearly defined goals and objectives based on its mission and philosophy,” says the California Association of Independent Schools (

Accreditation & Affiliation Key

Key to Private School Accreditations, Affiliations, and Associations

Here is a list of the most common of the accrediting, affiliation, and association bodies that schools list in our Regional Guides to Private Schools.

View Private Schools in Our Annual Guides to Private Schools:

ABC – Arts in Basic Curriculum,

ACSI – Association of Christian Schools International,

AEFE – Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger,

AISAP – Assoc. of Independent School Admission Professionsals,

AMI – American Montessori Internationale,

AMS – American Montessori Society,

BADA – Bay Area Directors of Admission,

BAMA – Bay Area Montessori Association,

CAIS – California Association of Independent Schools,

CDE – California Department of Education, 

Cognia – Cognia Performance Standards,

CPSTEME – Carnegie Science Seal of Excellence for STEM,

CQEL – California Quality Early Learning,

Green Ribbon School – US Department of Education,

IALDS – International Association of Lerner Driven Schools,

IB, IBO – International Baccalaureate,

ICG – Independant Curriculum Group, 

ICGS – International Coalition of Girl’s Schools, 

IMC – The International Montessori Council,

ISBOA – CA Independent Schools Business Officer Association, 

ISSFBA – Independent Schools of the San Francisco Bay Area, 

NAEYC – National Association for the Education of Young Children,

NAIS – National Association of Independent Schools,

NCAA Approved – National College Athletic Association,

NCEA – National Catholic Educational Association,

NCGS – National Coalition of Girl’s Schools,

NCPSA – National Council for Private School Accreditation,

NIPSA – National Independent Private Schools Association,

PASCH – Schulen: Partner der Zukunft,

PEN – Progressive Education Network,

POCIS – People of Color in Independent Schools of N CA,

SBSA – Small Boarding Schools Association,

SHCOG – Sacred Heart Commission on Goals,

TABS – The Association of Boarding Schools,

WASC – Western Association of Schools and Colleges,

WBSA – Western Boarding Schools Association,

WCEA – Western Catholic Education Association,