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School Approval Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between school approval and accreditation?

School approval is a mandatory process required by RSA 21-N:9. All children residing in the State of New Hampshire between the ages of 6 and 18 are required by RSA 193:1 to attend an approved public school, approved private school, or an approved home school program.

Accreditation is a voluntary process in which schools submit to a review by an accrediting organization which compares the schools to standards established by the accrediting organization. Most public and private high schools and a few middle schools in New Hampshire are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)(www.NEASC.org). Some private schools are accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) or the American Association of Christian Schools (AACS).

Are all schools required to be approved?

A school must be approved to satisfy the compulsory education requirement under RSA 193:1 for children between ages 6 and 18.

Are all schools required to be accredited?

No, accreditation is a voluntary process.

Is there any difference between private schools and nonpublic schools?

The two terms are used interchangeably in New Hampshire statutes and administrative rules.

Are charter schools public or private schools?

Charter schools are public schools. They operate under a charter authorized by a local school district or by the State Board of Education. More information about charter schools may be found at Charter Schools Web Page.

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How often must a school be approved?

Public schools must be approved every five years.

Private schools that are approved for program and attendance are approved every five years. Private schools approved for attendance purposes only are approved every three years.

Are there different designations for approval?

Public schools may be designated as approved, conditionally approved, or unapproved. Unapproved public schools may request a status of delay in full compliance from the State Board of Education.

Private schools may be designated as unapproved for program and attendance, approved for attendance purposes only, or unapproved. Private Schools may request a delay in full compliance from the State Board of Education.

What standards must be met for a school to be approved?

Public schools must meet the requirements of Part Ed 306 of the New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules.

Charter schools must meet the requirements of Part Ed 318 of the New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules.

Private schools must meet the requirements of Chapter Ed 400 of the New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules.

How do I know if my school has been approved?

Contact Leslie Higgins at (603) 271-3759 for all schools except charter schools.

For charter schools contact Roberta Tenney at (603) 271-2079.

Where can I obtain a copy of the Administrative Rules?

Administrative Rules and statutes may be downloaded from the State Web site.

Printed copies may be obtained for a fee from the Department of Education, Attn: Mary Mayo, Mary.Mayo@doe.nh.gov, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301.

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Are the requirements the same for public, charter, and private schools?

No. Although certain requirements are the same among the different types of schools, many are different. The specific requirements for each type of school are found above.

What happens if a school does not meet the standards?

Public schools may be placed in a status of conditional approval for up to three years. They may also be granted a status of delay in full compliance by the State Board of Education. Children attending an unapproved public school are not meeting the compulsory education requirements and may be considered truant.

Private schools are required to meet the requirements fo ED 400 or be considered unapproved. Children attending an unapproved private school are not meeting the compulsory education requirement and may be considered truant.

How many days of instruction are required?

Public and Private schools are required to maintain a calendar of with at least 945 hours of instruction for elementary schools and 990 hours of instruction for middle and high schools.

May a school year be less than 180 days?

Yes, school districts and private schools may have fewer than 180 days as long as they meet the required number of hours of instruction.

Are schools required to make up time when they are closed due to inclement weather or other emergencies?

Schools are not required to make up time lost due to weather or other emergencies if they provided at least 3.5 hours of instructional time for elementary schools and 4 hours of instructional time middle and high schools. Schools may request a waiver of the requirement to make up time lost due to weather and emergencies from the Commissioner.

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How can I obtain my transcripts from a nonpublic/private school which has now closed?

Nonpublic schools are required to notify the NH Department of Education when they close and where their students' records will be stored; however, we cannot guarantee that the records will be available. We will provide the contact information we have to help you find the records. Students who attended Catholic schools should contact the Diocese of Manchester at (603) 669-3100.

My child is transferring to a NH public high school from a private high school. Can we request a waiver of particular graduation requirements?

Parents of students attending private high schools in New Hampshire should be aware that private/nonpublic high schools are not required to meet the same graduation requirements as the public schools. Table 306-2 in the New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules Part Ed 306, Minimum Standards for Public School Approval, lists the subjects and 20 credits required for public high school graduation. Local school boards have authority to establish additional requirements, to determine the placement of incoming transfer students, and to accept for credit, or decline to accept, work completed at schools previously attended by the transferring student. The Commissioner of Education may waive a particular graduation requirement as described in Ed 306.27(u) upon receipt of a written request from the local school board. Parents may appeal a decision of a local school board to the State Board of Education after exhausting appeal procedures at the local level.


New Hampshire Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3494
Telephone: (603) 271-3494 | TDD Access: Relay NH 711