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Nonpublic School Accreditation


Nonpublic schools have two options for accreditation in the State of Iowa. Nonpublic schools can choose one of the following options:

  1. General Accreditation by state through a comprehensive site visit.
  2. Independent Accreditation through a state approved independent accrediting agency.

Nonpublic schools accredited through an approved independent accrediting agency are deemed to meet the education standards of Iowa Code 256.11. With respect to accreditation in both public and nonpublic schools, the state has the authority and responsibility to be assured of an educational program which is in accordance with minimal standards. Approval standards are those rules and regulations promulgated by the Iowa Department of Education and found in the Iowa Administrative Code. These standards detail the statutes as to intent and purposes and carry the force and effect of law.

General Accreditation by State Through a Comprehensive Site Visit

An accredited school meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for operation as either an elementary or secondary school as stated in the general statutes and regulations adopted by the State Board of Education. If a school meets these minimum standards, it will be granted accreditation.

Iowa Administrative Code 281-12

Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 12 Rule Interpretation Matrix

How to Become an Accredited Nonpublic School

Application for Nonpublic School Accreditation

Requirements for Accreditation for Nonpublic School Accreditation

Document Review Checklist and Non-Regulatory Guidance for Nonpublic Schools

Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) - A school or school district shall submit a revised five-year comprehensive school improvement plan by September 15 of the school year following the comprehensive site visit specified in Iowa Code 256.11 which incorporates, when appropriate, areas of improvement noted by the school improvement visitation team. Iowa Administrative Code 281-12.8(2)

Independent Accreditation Through a State Approved Independent Accrediting Agency

Nonpublic schools have the option to be accredited by an independent regional or national nonprofit, nongovernmental agency recognized as a reliable authority concerning the quality of education.

Iowa Administrative Code rule 281-12.10

Guidance for Independently Accredited Schools

2021-2022 Independently Accredited Schools List

The following is a list of State Board of Education approved independent accrediting agencies:

Cognia (formerly AdvancEd)
Kathy Bartlow
Senior Analyst
480-773-6900 ext. 6923

Dr. Andre Harrison
Vice President, Accreditation Services

American Montessori Society (AMS)
Melanie Thiesse

Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
Bobbie Kelly
Associate Director

Christian Schools International (CSI)
Sheryl L. Jo
Director of School Improvement

Allison Reiffer
Accreditation Coordinator

Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS)
Dawn Klus
Director of Accreditation

National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA)
Kristin Freeman
Coordinator, School Ministry
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Office of National Mission, School Ministry
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122
800-248-1930 ext. 1294