All students are expected to meet the demands, rigor and expectations of the Challenge Program.
As per the NJ Administrative Code, "District boards of education must make provisions for an ongoing K-12 identification process for gifted and talented students that includes multiple measures".
There are three main areas that are examined to determine eligibility in Challenge: recommendations by parent or teacher, district standards-based assessments, and paper-and-pencil Challenge assessments. Each area has a 0, 1, or 2 point allotment on an eligibility matrix.
Recommendations: In this area, a student would receive points for either being recommended by their teacher or nominated by their parent.
District standards-based assessments: This area is comprised of two parts, the EasyCBM Math and the EasyCBM Reading Comprehension assessments. Each assessment gets its own point allotment. These assessments are administered by classroom teachers in the spring on Ipads, HP Steams, or computers.
Students receive points for scoring above the 80th percentile on each test. Please note that percentile is different than percent correct. Scoring above the 80th percentile on an assessment means that the child scored higher than 80% of the children taking the assessment. These assessments are normed using a nationwide population.
Paper-and-pencil Challenge assessments: This area is comprised of three parts, an essay, a math problem solving test, and a test of divergent thinking. Each assessment gets its own point allotment. These are all administered by the classroom teacher during the spring.
- The essay is completed in class and graded using the NJ Holistic Scoring Rubric, with a maximum score of 5. Students receive points for scoring a 4 or a 5.
- The math problem solving assessment is 10 mathematical questions where students need to examine a problem and figure out a way to solve it. These are typically “outside the box” type questions, involving math reasoning skills that have not explicitly been taught previously in the classroom. Students receive points for getting 6 or more questions correct.
- The test of divergent thinking involves students looking at pictures and creating something out of them by adding to them. Challenge teachers use a rubric to assess how the students adjusted the picture, assigning points for each item. Students receive points for scoring 85 or higher out of 131 possible points.
For eligibility into the program, a child needs to obtain a total score of 7 or higher. Any child achieving a total score of 7 or higher is eligible for the program.
These assessments are given each year. Eligibility one year does not impact eligibility for the following year, as every child needs to obtain at least 7 points on the matrix to be eligible.