Membership Requirements

“The Florida Council (FCIS) values its relationship and partnership with ICAISA and supports its outstanding work in promoting high quality, independent education across the globe.  From accreditation to member services and professional development, ICAISA is an important voice, resource and advocate for our industry.”

David V. Mahler, Head of School, The Out-of-Door Academy, Past-Chair, FCIS Board

Organizations interested in joining ICAISA are encouraged to contact ICAISA Executive Director, Bonnie Ricci, at or 781.664.3216. 

A primary purpose of ICAISA is to provide a vehicle by which member associations can cooperate and improve independent school accreditation practices, ultimately enhancing the quality of education for students in accredited member schools. In addition, approval by ICAISA establishes a credible assurance of the quality of independent school accreditation practices upon which the public can rely.

The activities of ICAISA, in furtherance of its purpose, include the following: assuring the highest standards for independent school accreditation by requiring compliance with the Criteria of Effective Independent School Accreditation as a matter of ICAISA membership; developing model core standards for accreditation to serve as a reference for Council members’ accreditation programs; disseminating models of successful accreditation policies and procedures; engaging in research that will inform accreditation practice; promoting through advocacy efforts public understanding of and credibility for independent school accrediting programs; assuring structure, consistency, and oversight to peer review of member associations; and providing leadership, including representation from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), in matters of accreditation practice and policies.


ICAISA Member associations voluntarily commit to engage in a ten-year review cycle that includes a rigorous and impartial review of its accreditation program through self-study, peer visitation, and annual reporting. Applicant Associations will complete the Report on Compliance with the Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices which includes submissions of documentation of compliance.   An assigned review team is charged with confirming compliance with all of the Criteria in the course of its visits and observations.

ICAISA members must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold member association status in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
  • Have at least three-years of experience as a fully functioning accrediting association.
  • Have an accrediting process with the primary purpose of reviewing and accrediting nonprofit independent elementary schools with minimally three consecutive primary and/or middle grades (defined as between grades one through eight), and/or nonprofit independent secondary schools with minimally four consecutive grades.
  • Accredit minimally 20 NAIS member schools. (International associations accredit minimally 20 NAIS international independent school subscribers)
  • Comply with the Commission’s Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices.
  • Successfully complete a full review by members of the ICAISA Council.
  • Commit to attendance by the association’s Executive Director (or equivalent) at all meetings of the Council.
  • Complete all required report submissions, including an Annual Report.
  • Submit timely payment of all membership and registration fees.


  • Only current recognized members attend ICAISA meetings as voting members and submit annual reports.
  • The Membership Committee will review all applications, and if approved by the Board of Directors, will welcome the association as a Candidate member.
  • The Executive Director of Candidate members may be invited to attend meetings, as a non-voting participant.
  • Candidates have up to three years to complete the review process.
  • The review process for Candidate Associations will follow the ICAISA Review Guidelines; the review team will include from two to four Commissioners who will observe the association's process, review documentation, and conduct interviews with selected constituents representing the association.
  • When all of the recommendations have been met, including those related to the Criteria, the association will be approved as a recognized member of ICAISA.
  • Fees: There is a $1,000 application fee that is non-refundable. Candidate members pay regular membership dues, and assume all costs for the review process.