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About AESD Accreditation

AESD Purpose

Washington State school accreditation began to ensure that the state’s high schools were adequately preparing students for college. It was intended to document high program quality for colleges and for the patrons of Washington’s educational system. 

Over the years, the State Board of Education opened the accreditation process to all grade levels.  This voluntary, self-study process is a research-based approach to school improvement. It includes active participation and input from staff, students, parents and community representatives. The school improvement planning process is data-informed, continually impacting student learning so that students have “the opportunity to become  responsible citizens, to contribute to their own economic well-being and to that of their families and communities, and to enjoy productive and satisfying lives…” (RCW 28A.150.210)

Foundational Requirements

  • Data-Informed: The Student Improvement Plan is based on and informed by data.
  • Student-Achievement Focused: The School Improvement Plan has the measureable achievement of all students as the primary end-goal.
  • Research-Based Foundation & Actions: The School Improvement Plan 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.
  • Collaboratively-Determined: The School Improvement Plan is created with active involvement from all stakeholders who will be impacted by the plan. 

Download the Foundational Requirements Rubric


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. Accreditation status is granted for a period of six years if approved.

Accreditation Resources

Guides for School Improvement in Washington.

Washington State Legislature

Supplemental basic education program approval requirements. WAC 180-16-220

National High School Center

Eight Elements of High School Improvement: A Mapping Framework.

OSPI Resource

Nine characteristics of High-Performing Schools, a research based resource.