The commitment to prepare for accreditation by joining ACIS represents a major step forward in a school’s evolution, but one that should not be taken prematurely. Schools must have been in continuous operation for a minimun of five years to be eligible for possible ACIS accreditation.  ACIS provides a valuable network of support for continual school improvement that helps ensure steady progress toward fulfillment of a school’s strategic goals, with enormous potential benefits for the students and families, faculty and staff in the school community. However, working toward school accreditation also requires: a significant allocation of time and energy from the leadership of the school, the payment of membership dues, and a commitment to the principles of sound governance and best practices reflected in the ACIS Accreditation Standards. The candidacy application process is designed to assess a school community’s readiness for working toward ACIS accreditation.

Invitations to apply for candidacy membership are based on a determination of whether ACIS can effectively support and evaluate the school. ACIS must also determine whether a school has sufficient leadership stability and financial sustainability to gain accreditation in five years. The (unranked) criteria for selecting among possible applicants includes: school size, maturity, readiness for accreditation, compliance with ACIS standards, and the capacity of ACIS to guide and support the school on its path to accreditation.


  1. Host a site visit by the ACIS executive director for orientation to ACIS, confirmation of qualifications, and assessment of readiness for accreditation.
  2. Complete ACIS Membership Application and Standards Compliance Inventory. Provide required candidacy application documents. Pay the $1500 application fee. Mail check and submit the application packet to ACIS, with a letter of intent signed by the head of school and board chair.
  3. Host a candidacy visit by the executive director and two other ACIS representatives (usually two school heads).
  4. The ACIS Membership Committee reviews the application materials and candidacy visit report to make a recommendation to the board of directors.
  5. The ACIS board of directors approves, denies, or postpones action on the application.
  6. A letter is sent to the school from the executive director to report on the board’s decision and explain any related provisions. The letter includes commendations and recommendations to support school improvement and clarify work needed to gain accreditation.

Requirements for Candidacy Members:

  1. Pay ACIS dues at same rate as accredited members, based in part on full-time equivalent enrollment.
  2. Candidacy Members may only advertise as ACIS Candidacy Members until after gaining accreditation.
  3. Candidacy Members must gain accreditation within five years of joining ACIS.
Contact the ACIS Executive Director for additional guidance on the membership application process and necessary preparations for gaining first-time accreditation.