The School Code (105 ILCS 5/2-3.25o) requires ISBE to “provide for the voluntary registration and recognition
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 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?
- 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 425).
- 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.
2. What nonpublic schools are currently registered?
Registered Nonpublic Schools Enrollment and Other Data
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. However, that form may only be submitted between October 1 and June 25. So such schools will need to wait until October 1 to gain access to the application form. Schools that have completed the form but not submitted it should wait to do so until October 1.
- 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 re-register.
- 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:
Regulatory Support and Wellness, E-222
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777-0001
- 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 instructions for making EPS changes.
4. What nonpublic schools are currently recognized?
Below are links to lists that supply this information in two ways: alphabetical first by county name and then by school name for each county or alphabetical by school name. More than one year of data is supplied, so one will want to select both the desired year and the desired alphabetical list.
- Directory of Recognized Schools
5. What are some benefits of being a recognized nonpublic school?
- Assurance that the school's educational program has been approved by ISBE and meets at least minimum state requirements.
- Required for student entrance in many colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions and training programs.
- Requirement for school membership in the Illinois High School Association and for student participation in Illinois Elementary School Association sanctioned sports, contests, tournaments, etc.
- Required for student acceptance/assignment to most military training programs.
- Required for students taking licensing examinations in fields covered under the Illinois Nursing Act.
- Required for partial cancellation of National Defense Education Act student loans.
- Required for student teachers.
- Often required for placement on a salary schedule when nonpublic teachers transfer to other schools.
- Student transfers are expedited and credits are more-readily accepted by other schools.
6. What steps and forms are required by the recognition process?
7. What other resources are available about the recognition program?
Information for Parents
Offers questions and information to help parents in deciding whether to enroll a child in a particular nonpublic school.
- School Code Reference Directory -
Identifies items in the School Code that apply to nonpublic schools.
- SY2018 Nonpublic School Recognition Training Webinar (1 hour)
Developed to aid training personnel who will be leading recognition visit teams in nonpublic schools during SY2018. Content may be of interest to nonpublic schools and others.
Please note that since this webinar was recorded, the understanding of Section III (Personnel), item B, number 2 has changed. The new text for this item requires a TB test for new employees in buildings in which pre-school children are enrolled. See the Glossary for more details on this item.
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.
For more information, visit the
Seal of Biliteracy website.
9. What is the program for approving nonpublic driver education study?
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