Preliminary Criteria for Membership

Documenting evidence of excellence in education

A school making application for membership will be asked to show evidence of meeting these Preliminary Criteria:
At the most basic level schools who are members of VAIS share the following general characteristics:

  • A clearly stated mission and philosophy
  • Non-discriminatory policies and practices in admissions, employment and all other aspects of school operation as provided by law
  • Incorporation as a not-for-profit and tax-exempt organization under IRS ruling
  • Governance by an independent Board of Trustees
  • An academic program spanning at least three successive grades
  • Academic integrity: i.e., academic freedom, freedom of promoting diversity in teaching approaches and curricular choices, and freedom from restricting teachers to any single dogma
  • Operating experience of at least five consecutive years
  • Willingness to endorse and adhere to the Principles of Good Practice of the National Association of Independent Schools, and a willingness to meet the accrediting Standards of The Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS)

Only applications from schools showing these preliminary criteria can move forward for consideration for membership. Apply now.

A school which decides to proceed with its application for initial membership will file with the Association the appropriate forms and pay the established application fee. The school will send copies of the required documentation as noted on the application form about the school and its program to the VAIS Office.

Once it has been determined that the application file is complete, a preliminary visit to the school will be conducted with a representative of the VAIS Office and a representative of the Accreditation Committee. The purpose of this visit is to become better acquainted with the applying school and, in turn, for the school to become more familiar with the purposes of the Association, the requirements for membership, and the evaluation process in its entirety.

The VAIS Accreditation Committee meets several times a year and will review the application for membership and the supporting materials at its next meeting following the preliminary visit. The Accreditation Committee recommends action regarding the application for initial candidacy to the VAIS Board of Directors. If accepted as a Candidate, the School must move through the process towards full membership within two years from the date of acceptance.

Upon acceptance as a Candidate for Membership, the Chair of the school’s Steering Committee and, if possible, the Head of School and other school representatives as appropriate, should attend the required workshop for schools beginning the self-study process given by the VAIS office.

At the conclusion of the evaluation process the VAIS Accreditation Committee will review the report of the Visiting Team, their vote on VAIS Membership Standards, and other pertinent documents.

The Accreditation Committee will forward its recommendation concerning accreditation to the VAIS Board of Directors for its action. The Board may grant a Candidate School full accreditation or deny accreditation.

If a Candidate for Membership is not approved for Full Membership after a Visiting Team has completed the evaluation process, the candidate school may re-apply for membership no earlier than three years after denial or such time as is specified by the Board of Directors.


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