Frequently Asked Questions

What does the daily schedule look like?

We follow a traditional schedule with 4 core classes, two electives and an Advisory.

How are students selected?

The Iowa Acceleration Scale (IAS) and state criteria for identifying a student as gifted are used to guide the scoring and decision process.  Students that score in the 95th percentile or above on cognitive and achievement testing are likely to be considered an excellent fit for the program.  However, social/emotional and behavior factors are also considered. Letters are scored by several staff members, and a committee of experts in gifted education meet to make the final decision.

The IAS provides:

  • A more objective look at the student;

  • An analysis of the major factors to be considered in making a decision;

  • Guidelines for weighting the relative importance of the major factors;

  • Documentation of the student’s strengths and concerns

  • A numerical range to guide the discussion and decision of acceleration; and,

  • A standard of comparison with students who have had successful accelerations.

What if my child already took the CogAT?

They still need to take the CogAT through East Middle School during one of the scheduled test dates. Challenge applicants are given a higher level of test.

Are staff trained to work with gifted students?

District and program funding is provided for our staff to receive training in gifted education.  Many staff members have several hours of training and/or Master's degrees in gifted education.

How will applicants be notified?

Letters will be mailed mid April, so students can attend 5th grade orientation at East.

How does the Challenge Program support social/emotional needs?

In 6th grade, all Challenge students take an elective where they write goals and learn about mindsets and study strategies. The Challenge Coordinator and counselors are also available to support students in small groups or one-on-one when needed. We also meet with parents one-on-one or in groups to talk about needs and support we can offer. Field trips are used for team-building and to get to know the students, so we can best support them.

Do Challenge students need to apply for School of Choice?

No. However, the School of Choice window typically closes before notification of acceptance is mailed.  If you would like your student to attend East regardless of his/her acceptance, you will want to apply for School of Choice.

Are students able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities?

Yes, the majority of our students are highly involved in outside activities. We offer study hall as an elective to support students with heavy commitments outside of school. Teachers are flexible and available to support students outside of class when needed.

How much of the day are Challenge students together?

Challenge students are together in core classes for approximately 55% of their day.

Once you are accepted, do you have to apply every year?

No. Once you are accepted, you are in for all three years.