Accreditation Services

AESD School Accreditation

The Washington State AESD Accreditation process is designed to help schools develop practices best suited for them to continuously improve. It is aligned with School Improvement Planning (SIP) and is personalized and adaptable to meet the specific needs of each school. For more information, please contact us at or by calling 360-299-4022.


Our program was created to accredit Washington State schools. The Northwest Educational Service District 189 (NWESD) is the lead agency for accreditations which occur on a six-year cycle.

To date, more than 300 schools throughout the state have been approved for AESD Accreditation upon confirmation by a panel of volunteer ESD Board members – middle schools, private schools, themed high schools, comprehensive high schools, and alternative high schools.

Accreditation is granted for a period of six years, conditioned on a third-year review to check on continued progress towards the school’s goals, celebrate successes, and recalibrate as needed.


Washington State school accreditation was developed to ensure that the state’s high schools were adequately preparing students for college. It was intended to document programs of high quality for colleges and the patrons of Washington’s educational system. It is now open to all grade levels and is a voluntary, self-study process that is a research–based approach to school improvement.

The accreditation process supports a long-term vision for a performance-based educational system that aligns accreditation requirements to the continuous improvement of student learning, achievement and growth. The process provides for collaboration and deep reflection by the school community, for external review and validation of the school improvement plan, and the process that led to its development. It also provides a statement of accountability to the public.

Process: A Cycle of Inquiry, Action, and Improvement

Getting Ready

Preparing for the six-part accreditation process. Getting ready ensures that the people involved in the accreditation process know and understand the process, how they authentically engage in that process, and how data and research drive their instructional and systemic decisions in service to student achievement. As a starting point, school teams are provided reflection questions to evaluate their capacity to be successful through the accreditation process. It is assumed that the school’s vision, mission, and beliefs serve as a foundation for SIP planning.

Identifying Issues and Collecting Data

This stage describes the school, its unique qualities and operational procedures. Data helps “tell the story” of the school. The school team collects and reviews a wide variety of data from multiple sources to support and inform the plan for improvement. Types of data may include: student achievement, demographic, perception, contextual, and trend/patterns. Annual assessment data and any relevant on-going classroom formative assessment information are utilized.

Analyzing Data, Determining Needs, and Setting Goals

This stage organizes data in a way that helps discover vital information to improve student achievement. Data is integrated and analyzed from a systems perspective to search for deeper understanding and to determine potential relationships.

Reviewing Research Base and Determining Realistic Solutions

This stage begins with formation of a committee(s) to conduct or review research of best practices for each goal. The committee(s) will list relevant resources reviewed and highlight major findings to then be shared with staff, students, parents, and community stakeholders. The stakeholders will then review and respond to findings, culminating in draft solutions.

Creating a Data-Informed and Achievement-Focused Plan

The school team reviews and discusses relevant research related to the identified goals, then drafts a broad outline of sequential steps to accomplish the specific goal which is then shared with all stakeholders. A final draft of the plan will be created using input from stakeholders.

Continuous Monitoring and Adjusting

The school team develops a system of formative and summative assessments with a general timeline. Appropriate stakeholders monitor ongoing data and make recommendations for possible plan adjustments. Summative data and plan adjustments will be shared with stakeholders.

School Improvement Plan Process Review Tool

The AESD Accreditation online workspace is a foundational piece of this process. School teams have a dedicated, secure area online to work through the six phases of the School Improvement Plan Process Review (SIPPR) tool and attach their evidence/artifacts for each of the phases. The SIPPR tool was created specifically for AESD Accreditation and is embedded into the user-friendly online platform.

For questions, please contact us at or by calling 360-299-4022.

Foundational Requirements


The School Improvement Plan (SIP) is based on and informed by data

Student-Achievement Focused

The SIP has the measurable achievement of all students as the primary end-goal

Research-Based Foundation and Actions

The SIP is built on a set of evidence-based elements of successful schools; the actions selected to meet goals within the plan are based on research


The SIP is created with active involvement from all stakeholders who will be impacted by the plan

Documents & Resources

AESD Accreditation FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about AESD Accreditation

Washington State Legislature

Supplemental basic education program approval requirements. WAC 810-16-220

National High School Center

Eight Elements of High School Improvement: A Mapping Framework.

ESD Contacts

ESD 105

Shane Backlund


Linda McKay

ESD 112

Mike Nerland


Darren Nelson

ESD 113

Dr. Andrew Eyres


David Forsythe

OESD 114

Susan Lathrop


Amber McCulloch

ESD 123

Kristi Hofheins