Procedures for Application as an Approved Non Public School
Nonpublic school approval by the State Department of Education is a voluntary matter for the individual school.* In order to attain such approval, schools must obtain accreditation from an agency approved by the State Department of Education. In the case of a school accredited by an approved agency, such designation ensures that established procedures have been followed and that approval by the State Department of Education is warranted. At this time, the Department of Education has given formal recognition to the approval procedures of certain accrediting agencies listed. (See, Approved Accrediting Agencies).
Schools seeking state approval must:
- Obtain accreditation by an agency recognized by the State Department of Education;
- Request that the recognized agency submit to the State Department of Education a copy of the Visiting Committee’s report and formal notification from the agency to the school regarding the school’s accreditation; and
- Submit copies of the current clearance by fire and health authorities to the State Department of Education.
*NOTE: Nonpublic schools may operate in Connecticut without state approval. However, section 10-188 of the Connecticut General Statutes provides that attendance at a nonpublic school shall not be regarded as compliance with the compulsory school attendance laws unless such nonpublic school (approved or unapproved) files a yearly attendance report with the Commissioner of Education. Filing the attendance report does not imply State Department of Education approval of the nonpublic school.
In addition, nonpublic schools that are not approved by the Department of Education and serve children under the age of five may be required to obtain a license to operate a child day care facility from the Department of Public Health. For more information, see Family Day Care Homes, Group Day Care Homes, Child Day Care Centers information.
Procedure for Application as a Recognized Accrediting Agency
*This is the governing procedure for approval a recognized accrediting agency as approved by the State Board of Education. This procedure supersedes any and all other procedures previously posted on this website.*
Nonpublic school approval by the State Department of Education (Department) is a voluntary matter for the individual school. In order to attain such approval, schools must obtain accreditation from an agency approved by the Department. The State Board of Education has authorized the Department to implement the Board’s standards for accrediting agencies which may wish to apply for approval in the future and to existing agencies which may wish to apply for re-approval when their current approvals expire. In the case of a school approved by a recognized agency, such designation ensures that established procedures have been followed and approval by the Department is warranted. At this time, the Department has given formal recognition to the approval procedures of certain accrediting agencies listed. (See, Approved Accrediting Agencies).
An agency seeking recognition by the State Board of Education shall:
- Make application for recognition to the Department using the forms developed by the Department; and
- Comply with any reasonable request made by the Department, such as a request to supplement its application with personal interviews or additional written information.
Upon the filing of a completed application by an agency, the Department shall:
- Review the application of the agency and recommend to the Commissioner that the application be approved or denied; and
- Permit the applicant agency, upon written request, to send comments to the Commissioner for consideration before the application is approved or denied.
Period of Approval and Renewal of Approval
The period of initial approval for a recognized agency shall be five years. Approved agencies shall be eligible for renewal of approval for the period not to exceed ten years. An agency seeking renewal of its recognition status shall make application to the State Board of Education in the same manner as the previous application.
Criteria for Agency Recognition
Scope of Operation of Agency
The agency shall:
- Be national, regional (interstate or intrastate), or statewide in scope;
- Be in existence as an educational organization no less than five years prior to seeking agency recognition;
- Have a clearly written statement of its objectives and activities; and
- Delineate the process by which it approves schools.
Organization of Agency
The agency shall:
- Employ qualified personnel; and
- Select competent persons for visiting committees, consultation services and decision-making bodies.
Internal Agency Procedures
The agency shall:
- Maintain clear, written descriptions of the requirements for approval, and of the kinds of approvals granted;
- Require self-study by member schools; and
- Regularly schedule visitations for re-evaluation and require interim progress reports.
The agency shall:
- Give advance written notice of approval procedures and standards and appeal procedures to member schools;
- Give advance publication of proposed changes in approval standards;
- Regularly review and update its standard operating policies and procedures;
- Secure sufficient qualitative information regarding the applying institution;
- Provide training in the approval process to member schools;
- Provide for adequate discussion between visiting committee and school staff;
- Furnish written evaluation reports to the applicant school;
- Allow inspection by the applicant school of the report for factual accuracy;
- Provide specific information about reasons for any adverse action and the opportunity and procedures for appeal;
- Take no action adverse to an institution pending outcome of appeal;
- Provide a written decision of the appeal;
- Advise or directly provide member schools with technical assistance to address deficiencies;
- Publish approval policies and lists of approved institutions;
- Require member institutions to report on institutional changes which could affect approval status;
- Promote a well-defined set of ethical practices;
- Maintain an appropriate review in relation to the ethical practices of member institutions, and
- Have procedures for revocation of approval.
Suggested Outline of Accrediting Standards (a general framework)
Each agency shall include an evaluation of each of the following as part of its school approval process:
- School philosophy, goals and objectives;
- Educational program, subject areas, specific curriculum;
- Institutional resources;
- Special services and administration;
- Governance and administration;
- Student assessment and program administration;
- Facilities and physical environment;
Financial stability, revenues and expenditures.
Agencies approved by the State Board of Education
The accrediting agencies currently recognized by the State Board of Education are:
- American Association of Christian Schools (AACS) (through June 2, 2023) www.aacs.org
- Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) (through March 1, 2029) www.acsi.org
- Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) (through March 31, 2023) www.caisct.org
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) (through March 31, 2023) www.neasc.org
Certificate of Exemption for Residential Facilities
Sections 17a-145 through 17a-152 of the Connecticut General Statutes govern the licensing of child-care facilities and child-placing agencies. According to those statutes, a non-special education residential facility, or boarding school, must receive a Certificate of Exemption from the State Board of Education prior to opening said facility. A Certificate of Exemption indicates that the school is “an educational institution as determined by the State Board of Education” and that, therefore, the licensing requirements for child-care facilities and child-placing agencies do not apply. Sections 10-8a-1 through 10-8a-8 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies specify the information an application for exemption must contain, exemption procedures and criteria, and procedures for the renewal and revocation of exemption.
A Certificate of Exemption permits the operation of a non-special education residential facility. However, the Certificate is not the equivalent to State Board approval of the school.
Please note that a nonpublic school that is currently approved by the State Board of Education is not required to maintain a Certificate of Exemption.