Independent Schools Association of the Southwest

Responsibilities and Advantages of Membership

The Independent Schools Association of the Southwest is a non-profit voluntary membership association of independent schools. The Association was founded in 1955 and includes schools located in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

ISAS promotes the highest professional and ethical standards of educational excellence for independent schools in the region and recognizes by formal ongoing accreditation those schools which demonstrate adherence to its standards. As a collective voice of the independent schools of the southwest, ISAS fosters collegial relations among its member schools and represents their interests.

ISAS is a member in good standing of the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA) and has voluntarily agreed to abide by Criteria for Good Practice and to submit to ongoing evaluation of its accreditation procedures by the Council. ISAS also regularly reports on the evaluation of member schools and on the accreditation process to state commissions which have been delegated responsibility for independent school accreditation by state education departments or legislatures.

ISAS member schools determine their own unique missions and are mission driven. They are incorporated as 501(c)(3) non-profit institutions and are supported primarily by tuition, contributions, and endowment income. Member schools have clearly stated educational philosophies which emphasize academic preparation, are committed to high educational standards and ongoing institutional improvement, and are governed by independent boards of trustees. ISAS member schools practice non-discriminatory policies and demonstrate good faith efforts to diversify the student body, faculty, and staff.


Membership Affords

  • Invaluable ISAS professional development opportunities include annual conferences for beginning teachers, admissions directors, advancement officers, business managers, trustees, and other constituencies. Division heads meet every other year. Heads of schools meet twice each year for professional development and to conduct association business.
  • Networking for ideas and problem solving is supported through ISAS constituency listservs.
  • ISAS statistics compiled annually on salaries, enrollment, diversity, SAT scores, and financial operations provide benchmarks for strategic planning and school improvement.
  • ISAS schools in Oklahoma and Texas are eligible by state law and through ISAS membership to participate in the ISAS Group Benefits Trust.
  • Periodic communication from the ISAS Executive Director keeps heads of school abreast of current trends and legislative issues.
  • ISAS provides a liaison with state legislatures and education departments and with national associations such as the National Association of Independent Schools, the Council for American Private Education, and the College Board.
  • A primary benefit of ISAS membership is the ongoing accreditation process itself which drives a school toward clearer knowledge of what constitutes maximum success in fulfilling its mission.

Steps Toward Membership

Schools applying for membership complete a demanding accreditation process, which can take two to four years, and commit to ongoing evaluation. The following standards are minimum requirements for pursuing ISAS membership.

  • The school must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
  • A duly constituted board of trustees must be independently responsible for the policies and the financial integrity of the school.
  • The school must be in sound financial condition.
  • The school must be able to document the performance of the last three graduating classes in the first year after graduation.

If a school’s application for membership is accepted by the Standards Committee, the school will be authorized to proceed with Documentation of Adherence to ISAS Standards. If the Documentation of Adherence to Standards is accepted by the Standards Committee, the school will be authorized to proceed with Self Study, and an Accreditation Visit will be scheduled for the following academic year.

"In ISAS, you feel like you belong. The goodness of everyone in the organization is palpable. You're part of a movement and making a difference."

~ Andy Watson, Head of School,
Albuquerque Academy

Financial Obligations of Applicant and Member Schools

Applicant Schools

An applicant school must submit an Application Fee of $500 with the Application for Membership and must submit an Evaluation Fee of $2,000 if the Standards Committee authorizes the school to proceed with Documentation of Adherence to Standards. The applicant school is responsible for all expenses of any ISAS visit to the school, including preliminary visits and the Accreditation Visit.

Accepted Schools

An applicant school accepted for membership in the Association at the November membership meeting will pay one-half of annual Association dues upon notification of acceptance.

Member Schools

Annual Association dues are payable on July 1 and are based on a school’s enrollment at the opening of the preceding academic year as submitted by the school. Dues consist of a base fee plus an assessment for each student according to that student's level. As voted at the annual Membership Meeting of November 6, 2018, the base fee for 2019-2020 will be $1,140 per school plus $8.00 for each Preschool student and $13.34 per student in Grades K-12.

A member school is responsible for all expenses of evaluations and visits involved in its accreditation process.

A member school arranging for governance or strategic planning workshops conducted by ISAS staff will be responsible for travel, meals, and lodging expenses along with the fee set by the Finance Committee for such services.

Fees for conferences and workshops for heads of school, administrator groups, beginning teachers, trustees, and other constituency groups will be determined by the ISAS staff and charged on a participation basis.