The Catholic Elementary Schools were founded essentially as parish schools after the Council of Baltimore in 1884. For over 100 years these schools were conducted by various Religious Orders fo men and women. The purpose of the Catholic parish school was primarily to teach the Roman Catholic faith. The second purpose was to develop an academic curriculum that would be integrated with the values taught in the Roman Catholic Church. Over the years, it became more important to guarantee the parents and the parish that the elementary school was academically sound and spiritually formative for its students. School accreditation was a means to that end.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Western Catholic Educational Association came into being with its emphasis on the Catholic Identity of the school as well as its academic program. Today all Catholic elementary schools (both parish and private) are fully accredited by the WCEA in California and Hawaii. To date, eight other western states and the US Territory of Guam have adopted the WCEA process for school accreditation with the same purposes in mind.