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For immediate release
February 18, 2004

State Board Revised Guidelines for Non-Public School Recognition

Approves two methods for recognition

(SPRINGFIELD) – The Illinois State Board of Education today approved revised guidelines for providing state recognition to privately owned and operated schools.

Approval of the Non-Public School Recognition guidelines comes seven months after a Governor’s line item veto in the agency’s Accountability department forced the Board to eliminate what was then, a non-mandated service. ISBE had recognized the schools since the mid 70s at the request of the Illinois Advisory Committee on Nonpublic Schools. The General Assembly restored funding for the program in November, and subsequently approved legislation mandating ISBE to recognize nonpublic schools. The Governor signed the bill into law last week.

“ISBE always considered this a valuable service we provided to private schools,” said State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller. “The guidelines provide a process not only to continue that service, but to do so in an even more efficient manner, agreed to by the constituents we are serving.”

The revised guidelines now allow two methods for establishing recognition. The first established recognition method requires that schools be registered in the state (meaning they have filed documents assuring compliance with health and safety requirements). For recognition, registered schools further agree to conform to minimum requirements set forth by ISBE including:

  • Establishing and following a 176-day calendar of no less than five hours of instruction per day
  • Submit to an on-site visit by an ISBE team
  • Submit proper documentation furnishing evidence of compliance with state and federal laws regarding health examination, immunization, attendance, length of term, non-discrimination and meet applicable fire and health safety requirements.

The second, and newly added, method now allows for initial and continued recognition by schools participating in programs conducted by approved accrediting agencies (such as the North Central Association). For accreditation/accountability processes to be state approved they must demonstrate that the criterion specified in the guidelines have been met.

“This second alternative method avoids duplicative efforts conducted by accrediting agencies,” said Schiller.

In addition to providing public assurance, participation offers several benefits, including participation in interscholastic and athletic competitions, and meeting some college or entrance requirements.

The Illinois Advisory Committee on Nonpublic Schools, first established in 1975, took on the task last October of streamlining and revising the recognition process. Members of the Committee include representatives from the Catholic Dioceses, the Catholic Conference and other administrative organizations.

A total of 674 Illinois non-public schools received recognition status for the 2003-04 school year by the Illinois State Board of Education. The recognized non-public schools list can be accessed at

ISBE recognition is sought by non-public schools for various reasons, including:

  • Providing assurance that the school's educational program has been approved by ISBE and meets at least minimum state requirement.
  • It is an aid/requirement to entrance in many colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions and training programs.
  • It is a requirement for membership in Illinois High School Association and student participation in Illinois Elementary School Association sanctioned sports, contests, tournaments, and other extracurricular and co-curricular activities.
  • Evidence of graduating from a recognized school is a requirement for acceptance/assignment to some military training programs (to avoid additional testing)
  • Teaching in a recognized nonpublic school is often used to determine placement on the salary schedule when teachers transfer to other schools, both public and private, especially in other states.
  • Student transfers from recognized schools are expedited and credits can be generally accepted.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777