Preliminary Criteria for Membership

Candidate Schools must provide evidence of excellence through:

  • Articulating a clearly stated mission and guiding principles of both education and inclusivity
  • Upholding non-discriminatory policies and practices in admissions, employment, and all other aspects of school operation, as provided by law
  • Incorporating as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization under IRS ruling
  • Adhering to governance by an independent Board of Trustees
  • Practicing academic integrity, i.e., academic freedom to promote diversity in pedagogy and curriculum without restriction to any single dogma
  • Having an academic program spanning at least three successive grades, with an early childhood program counting as one grade
  • Operating for at least three consecutive years by the time of application for Candidacy and five consecutive years by the time of Initial Accreditation
  • Demonstrating a willingness to meet the VAIS Standards for Membership

Applications from schools meeting the Preliminary Criteria can move forward for consideration for membership.

A school deciding to proceed with its application for Initial Accreditation will file with the Association the appropriate forms and pay the established application fee. The school will submit copies of the required documentation as noted on the application form to the VAIS office. Once 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 to five years from the date of acceptance as a Candidate School. The timeline will be mutually agreed upon by the school and the Association. 

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 staff At the conclusion of the evaluation process, the VAIS Accreditation Committee will review the report of the visiting team, their vote on the VAIS 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.


VAIS Documentation Requirements for Candidate Schools
Preliminary Criteria for Membership
VAIS Standards for Membership