Offerings and Accreditation

Enrollment in Collaborative Programs

Shared Time

Shared time is an agreement between a private school and a public school district that allows private school students (at no charge to them) in grades kindergarten through 12 to take noncore classes (e.g., foreign languages, physical education, fine arts, computer science) that are taught by teachers employed by the public school district.[13] School districts then get to count these part-time students towards their total enrollment for the purpose of collecting state aid for providing such services.

Survey data was retrieved from 208 private schools (66 percent of survey sample) and 70 percent of these schools said that they enroll at least some students in shared-time programs. Moreover, of those private schools using shared time, 80 percent enroll 71 percent or more of their students in these programs. When broken down at school level, for those that have shared-time programs, the average participation rate is 60 percent for private elementary and middle schools and 36 percent for private high schools.

Graphic 11: Private Schools by Shared-Time Participation Rates of Students

Graphic 11

Dual Enrollment

In 2012, the Michigan Legislature made changes to the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Act, which allows for private school students to “dual enroll” in a state-funded, college-level course without having to first enroll as a part-time public school student.[14] Additionally, the law allows private schools students to take college courses that count for credits towards both a college degree and a high school diploma.[*]

Survey data was retrieved from 67 private high schools (88 percent of the high school survey sample) on this issue and found that 69 percent of private high schools had at least one student dual enrolled for the 2015-16 school year. Of those schools, the average percentage of students dual enrolled was approximately 10 percent, and 89 percent of these schools enrolled 20 percent or fewer of their students in dual enrollment programs, as shown in Graphic 12.

Graphic 12: Percent of Private High Schools by Percent of Students Participating in Dual Enrollment

Graphic 12

Student Assessment

All private schools can elect, but are not required, to administer state assessments to their students during the testing period as prescribed by the Michigan Department of Education.[15] Approximately 80 percent of private school respondents indicated that they measure student academic performance annually for third through eighth graders using a norm-referenced assessment.[†] At the high school level, just over one half of schools annually assess ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders and fewer than one in three high schools administer an annual, norm-referenced assessment to their twelfth grade students. Graphic 13 provides a breakdown of private school student assessment by grade.

Graphic 13: Percent of Private Schools Annually Administering Norm-Referenced Student Achievement Tests

Graphic 13

While annually assessing their students, very few private schools utilize Michigan’s state assessment (i.e., M-STEP for 2015-16).[‡] As shown in Graphic 14, over three-quarters of survey respondent private schools indicated that none of their students take the state standardized assessment. The most common norm-referenced tests taken by private school students include the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, NWEA Measurement of Academic Performance, and, at the middle and high school levels, both the ACT and SAT suite of tests (e.g., ACT Aspire, Plan, Explore and ACT, or the PSAT and SAT).

Graphic 14: Percent of Private School Respondents Who Administer the M-STEP

Graphic 14

In addition to, or in lieu of, norm-referenced tests, some private schools assess their students’ academic achievement using assessments that are not norm-referenced. At the elementary and middle school levels, approximately one out of every three private schools administers non-norm-referenced assessments to their elementary and middle school students. At the high school level, less than one out of every four private schools administers non-norm-referenced assessments to their students. Commonly administered non-norm-referenced assessments include: DIBELS, STAR and other, locally-developed assessments.[§]


Under state law, Michigan’s private schools may choose to participate in an accreditation program.[16] Survey results from over 300 private schools indicate that about 80 percent of private schools are accredited. Of those schools that are accredited, the majority are accredited by the Michigan Non-Public School Accreditation Association (see Graphic 15).

MNSAA is recognized by the College Board as an accreditation agency. In order to begin the MNSAA accreditation process, a school must have (a) been operating for at least three years; (b) developed a strategic plan for school improvement; and (c) been evaluated by an external group of public and private educators.[17]

Additionally, a school must demonstrate its compliance with state law and regulations. After having been accredited, schools must be re-evaluated every five or seven years.

The second most popular accreditation agency is the National Lutheran School Accreditation. To be NLSA accredited, a school must undergo an evidence-based evaluation (i.e., ratings are established based on evidence and practices that are in place at the time of the accreditation self-study).[18]

Schools must also be “purpose-driven,” have qualified and competent staff, use designated curriculum and instructional design, regularly assess student learning, ensure teacher effectiveness, offer student supports services and activities, provide safe and healthy buildings, grounds and equipment, and more.[19] Finally, 22 percent or more of Michigan private schools are accredited through AdvancED or the Association of Christian Schools International.[20]

Graphic 15: Michigan Private School Accreditation Agency Affiliations

Graphic 15

[*]Private school students can only count “nonessential” courses towards their high school diploma. “Frequently Asked Questions - Postsecondary Dual Enrollment” (Michigan Department of Education, Apr. 23, 2014),

[†]A norm-referenced assessment compares a student’s performance to others within their peer group. For example, a third-grade student’s norm-referenced test assesses how the third grader is performing relative to how other third graders perform.

[‡]This could be due to the fact that the M-STEP is a relatively new test, having been administered for the first time in April of 2015. It may be that some private schools plan to administer the test, but are going to wait until they can further review it and the procedure for participating in the test. “M-STEP Summative” (Michigan Department of Education, 2016),

[§]DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills and assesses literacy skills for grades K-6. STAR assessments are computer-adaptive tests in early literacy, reading and math.