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The School Code (105 ILCS 5/2-3.25o) requires ISBE to “provide for the voluntary registration and recognition Students of nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.” (A nonpublic school is ”any non-profit, non-home-based, and nonpublic elementary or secondary school that is in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and attendance at which satisfies the requirements” of 105 ILCS 5/26-1 of the Code.) Nonpublic schools and interested parties may find the FAQ documentPDF Document helpful in answering some basic questions.

This program also includes the approval of ethnic language schools and nonpublic drivers education programs.

Detailed information about the program has been organized below in the form of questions and answers. Most of the answers contain links to forms and documents that are a part of this program. Before becoming a recognized nonpublic school, however, a school must have been registered at least for the school year preceding the recognition application.​​

 1. Besides the School Code, what else governs this program?

  1. While there are some specific requirements noted in the Code language, the details of the program are found in the administrative rules (23 Illinois Administrative Code Part 425PDF Document).
  2. Please note that while some nonpublic schools have affiliations, such as to a Catholic Archdiocese, requirements due to these affiliations are in addition to, and not in place of, state requirements.​​

 3. What steps and forms are required by the registration process?

  • For schools seeking to register for the first time, a paper form must be submitted.  That form, the Nonpublic Registration Renewal Report(87-01)PDF Document, may be submitted between October 1 and June 25.
  • Please note that for purposes of registration, a nonpublic school is any nonprofit, non-home-based, and nonpublic elementary or secondary school (Section 2-3.25o(e)) of the Illinois School Code) that is in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and attendance at which satisfies the requirements of Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code.  Only such schools can register and renew registration.
  • To assist applicants for initial registration, a User GuidePDF Document​ is available.  While registration is closed, schools may review the User Guide to aid in preparing for completing Nonpublic Registration Renewal Report (87-01)PDF Document​.
  • A school seeking to renew its registration will do so electronically via the IWAS System.  IWAS is open for registration renewal between October 1 and November 15.
    NOTE:  Schools wishing to remain registered MUST renew their registration annually.
  • For questions about registration, contact:
    Wellness Department, E-222
    100 North First Street
    Springfield, IL 62777-0001
    (​217) 782-5270
  • A school having changes that involve the data in the Entity Profile System or EPS (one of the systems in IWAS) need to update the school's data.  Many changes can be made by the school itself while others must be made by ISBE administrators.  See the instructionsPDF Document for making EPS changes.​​​​​

 4. What nonpublic schools are currently recognized?

Below are links to lists that supply recent information about recognized nonpublic schools in Illinois.  Please note that recognition must be renewed annually, so it is important to check the year of specific interest.  For 2012-13, the data are supplied in two ways in pdf files: alphabetical first by county name and then by school name for each county or alphabetical by school name.  However, for succeeding years, the data are in Excel spreadsheets that can be sorted as the user may find most convenient.  For recognition status queries in years not shown, please contact the Wellness Department ​at 217-782-5270.

 5. What are some benefits of being a recognized nonpublic school?

  1. Assurance that the school's educational program has been approved by ISBE and meets at least minimum state requirements.
  2. Required for student entrance in many colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions and training programs.
  3. Requirement for school membership in the Illinois High School Association and for student participation in Illinois Elementary School Association sanctioned sports, contests, tournaments, etc.
  4. Required for student acceptance/assignment to most military training programs.
  5. Required for students taking licensing examinations in fields covered under the Illinois Nursing Act.
  6. Required for partial cancellation of National Defense Education Act student loans.
  7. Required for student teachers.
  8. Often required for placement on a salary schedule when nonpublic teachers transfer to other schools.
  9. Student transfers are expedited and credits are more-readily accepted by other schools.​

 6. What steps and forms are required by the recognition process?

  1. Steps to Recognition​PDF Document - This document will help guide a school seeking recognition for the first time through various steps to achieve recognition.
  2. Application for Initial Recognition of Nonpublic Schools (91-04)PDF Document - This application is used for initial recognition of all eligible nonpublic schools and for renewal of recognition for eligible nonpublic correspondence schools. Renewal of recognition for non-correspondence schools is done in the fall via IWAS. Schools do not re-prepare this application in anticipation of a compliance visit. This may be submitted at any time, but an application received late in one school year may mean that the required school visit that follows application review cannot be scheduled until the following school year.
  3. Application for Recognition and Calendar User GuidePDF Document - This document provides a “walk through” of the recognition application screens in IWAS.
  4. General Information Records ChecklistPDF Document - This document lists all the materials, documents, etc. that the school should assemble for inspection prior to the arrival of the review team.
  5. Nonpublic School Evaluation Instrument (91-04A)PDF Document - This is the primary reporting document completed by the team during the review visit. The sample completed form​PDF Document may be helpful as an example of what a completed form might look like.
  6. Nonpublic School Evaluation Instrument GlossaryPDF Document- This document should give nonpublic school administrators and compliance visit team members additional information about the items in the evaluation instrument and some other information about the recognition compliance visits.  It is hoped this “commentary” will help school personnel feel more confident about their preparations for these visits and help visit teams be more consistent across the state in the evaluation of nonpublic school compliance. The Glossary will be a living document and will be updated as needed. Check back whenever the need arises to get the most recent version.​
  7. Fire Marshal Information and Annual Review Compliance Report LinkPDF Document - This is a link to the State Fire Marshal site, where the nonpublic school can find information and a link to the report form regarding the school’s compliance with safety drill requirements (Annual Review Compliance Report from Private Schools).
  8. School Drill Document (91-02)PDF Document - This is the form used by the school to document that it held all of the required safety drills. Please note that nonpublic schools are not required to hold bus drills if the school does not use buses, vans, or similar conveyances, but the school must hold a bus drill if it changes its practice to include the use of buses.  Nonpublic schools wishing to use this exemption to the bus drill requirement must file the Bus Drill Documentation​PDF Document form with ISBE annually.​
  9. School Emergency & Crisis Response Plan Guide - This is a link to an ISBE website with extensive information about safety drills and other related school safety items.
  10. Most Common FindingsPDF Document - This document suggests common errors for schools to avoid in order to smooth the path to recognition.​​​​

 7. What other resources are available about the recognition program?

  • Information for ParentsPDF Document
    Offers questions and information to help parents in deciding whether to enroll a child in a particular nonpublic school.
  • School Code Reference Directory - Coming Soon!
    Identifies items in the School Code that apply to nonpublic schools.
  • SY2019 Nonpublic School Recognition Training WebinarGo To Meeting Link (1 hour)
    • ​Developed to aid training personnel who will be leading recognition visit teams in nonpublic schools during SY2019.
    • Content may be of interest to nonpublic schools and others in preparing for compliance visits or in meeting new compliance requirements.​
    • The Glossary ​PDF Documentsupplies additional details on many topics in this webinar.​

 8. What is the program for approving foreign language study in ethnic schools?

Sometimes foreign language instruction is offered at an “ethnic school.” An ethnic school is a part-time private school that teaches the foreign language of a particular ethnic group as well as the culture, geography, history, and other aspects of that ethnic group. The school may seek approval to show that the language instruction offered is equivalent in content, rigor, etc. to foreign language instruction offered at a public high school. This program provides for that approval under 105 ILCS 5/2-3.44 in the School Code. The Code has additional references to Ethnic Language Schools under 105 ILCS 5/2-3.45 and 105 ILCS 5/10-22.43a.

High school students who participate in Ethnic Language Schools may become sufficiently skilled in a language so as to be eligible for the Seal of Biliteracy. This Seal is earned solely through the demonstration of language proficiency via standardized testing or portfolio assessment and is not dependent upon the student having any high school foreign language credits. It may be earned by students enrolled only in those public school districts participating in the Seal of Biliteracy program. Please note that a student seeking this Seal will also need to demonstrate English language proficiency by test only even if the student is a native English speaker.​

Ethnic Language Schools are urged to consider the new World Language Standards​ in designing or upgrading their curricula.  Using these Standards may enhance an Ethnic Language School’s program and thus further the goal of the program to obtain foreign language credit on a student’s high school transcript.  See the flyer​PDF Document on this topic for more information.​​​

 9. What is the program for approving nonpublic driver education study?

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