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Title grant administration

Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary School Recognition


The School Code (105 ILCS 5/2-3.25o) requires ISBE to “provide for the voluntary registration and recogniStudentstion 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.)

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. The program for nonpublic school registration is housed in the Data Analysis Division.


1. What nonpublic schools are currently recognized? updated

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.

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2. 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.

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3. 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 File).
  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.

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

  1. These are outlined in Steps to RecognitionPDF File newStudent
  2. There are a number of forms and documents associated with these steps.  Links to these are listed below:
  3. Building and Fire Safety Review (33-99)PDF File
    This is completed by the review team during a school visit.
  4. Educational Program Descriptionsnew
    This is a brief instruction sheet to help schools in preparing their program descriptions for submission to ISBE.
  5. Application for Initial/Renewal Recognition of Nonpublic Schools (91-04)PDF File
    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.
  6. User GuidePDF File new
    This document provides a “walk through” of the recognition application screens in IWAS.
  7. General Information Records ChecklistPDF File new
    This document lists all the materials, documents, etc. that the school should assemble for inspection prior to the arrival of the review team.
  8. Nonpublic School Evaluation Instrument (91-03)PDF File
    This is the primary reporting document completed by the team during the review visit. See the Nonpublic School Evaluation Instrument -- Completed SamplePDF File new to see how this might be completed during the visit.
  9. Fire Marshal Information and Annual Review Compliance Report Link
    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).
  10. School Drill Document (91-02)PDF File
    This is the form used by the school to document that it held all of the required safety drills.
  11. 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.
  12. Most Common FindingsPDF File new
    This document suggests common errors for schools to avoid in order to smooth the path to recognition.

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5. What other resources are available about this program? new

  1. Information for ParentsPDF File new
    Offers questions and information to help parents in deciding whether to enroll a child in a particular nonpublic school.
  2. School Code Reference Directory - Coming Soon!
    Identifies items in the School Code that apply to nonpublic schools.

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6. 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.

  1. A minimum of 120 hours per student of instruction in language (and culture) is required for this approval.
  2. Application for Ethnic School Foreign Language Program Approval (39-16)PDF File
  3. List of approved programs—not currently available

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

  1. Nonpublic high schools can receive approval of their driver education programs in order to help students meet license and insurance requirements.  The requirements for driver education programs are found in 105 ILCS 5/27-24.2 in the School Code.
  2. Only recognized schools can apply for this approval.

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8. What is the contact information for these programs at ISBE?

Title Grant Administration, N-242
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL  62777-0001
217-524-4832

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