Services that the group offers its members include accreditation services for primary and secondary schools, teacher certification, and access to student assessment tools, including the Stanford Achievement Test. ASCI sponsored development of a Bible Assessment Subtest component for the Stanford Achievement Test.
Because ACSI does not accredit colleges or universities, it is not recognized as an accreditor of higher education institutions by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the United States Department of Education. However, the organization does allow institutions of higher learning to be "member" schools, which should not be confused with accreditation. In 1994 ACSI's primary school and secondary school programs became officially recognized by the National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA). The United States Department of Education does not recognize or certify agencies for the accreditation of primary and secondary schools, including regional accrediting agencies.
The ACSI was founded in 1978 through the merger of three associations: The National Christian School Education Association; The Ohio Association of Christian Schools; and the Western Association of Christian Schools. Soon after the new association formed, several other Christian school associations joined ACSI: The Southeast Association of Christian Schools; the Association of Teachers of Christian Schools (Midwest); the Great Plains Association of Christian Schools; and the Texas Association of Christian Schools.
ACSI was first headquartered in La Habra, California, the former office of the California Association of Christian Schools. ACSI moved to its larger headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1994. Today, in addition to the headquarters facility ACSI has eighteen regional offices worldwide. Currently ACSI serves over 5,500 member schools in approximately 106 countries with an enrollment of nearly 1.2 million students. Programs and services are designed to assist Christian schools at every grade level including early education and higher education. ACSI is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization governed by a thirty-member Executive Board elected by member schools.
In spring 2006 the Association of Christian Schools International sued the University of California system alleging that the rejection of several Christian science courses was "viewpoint discrimination" which violated the constitutional rights of applicants from Christian schools whose high school coursework is deemed inadequate preparation for college. The lawsuit was brought by the parents of six children who had not been rejected from the university. In August 2006, the case Association of Christian Schools International v. Roman Stearns was allowed to proceed against the university while lawsuits against individual school officials were thrown out. The National Center for Science Education noted, "One of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs is Wendell Bird, a former staff attorney for the Institute for Creation Research. As a special assistant attorney general for Louisiana, he defended the state's "equal time" law, which was ruled to be unconstitutional in Edwards v. Aguillard. The National Center for Science Education works in collaboration with National Academy of Sciences, the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association, which consider creationism and intelligent design to be pseudoscience.
The Association retained leading intelligent design proponent Michael Behe to testify in the case as an expert witness. Behe's expert witness report claimed that the Christian textbooks were excellent works for high school students and he defended that view in a deposition.
On March 28, 2008 the defendants won a legal victory when their motion for partial summary judgment was granted, and the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment was denied. On August 8, 2008, Judge Otero entered summary judgment against plaintiff ACSI.