As you may know, the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) and the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) have teamed up to provide identification and programming services to help Iowa teachers find talented students and develop their abilities. For more on how BESTS and IOAPA work together, check out our IOAPA-BESTS blog roundup.
In order to use this year’s above-level testing scores to inform eligibility for next spring’s IOAPA courses, now is the time to begin the above-level testing process. (IOAPA spring registration opens November 1, and we expect seats to fill quickly). There are four basic steps for participation in BESTS.
- Find the students who are ready for additional challenge; these are the students who will be recommended for participation in BESTS. Typically, students who have earned scores at or above the 90thpercentile on grade-level standardized tests, such as the Iowa Assessments, are strong candidates for above-level testing. The Iowa Testing Program (ITP) provides a tool you can use for identifying those students.
- Notify the students identified and their families about the opportunity to participate in BESTS. Letters you can use for that purpose are found here for the ACT and here for I-Excel.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to set up testing. Note that if you have 7th-9th grade students in need of above-level testing, they will be taking the ACT, and there are specific deadlines for registration; visit org/talent-search for specific information. I-Excel testing sessions for current 4th-6th graders are more flexible to schedule, but it’s still important to reach out soon to ensure that the process can be completed in time for your desired test date(s) and IOAPA spring registration. Please allow approximately 6 weeks from the time of registration to having the assessment results in hand.
- Inform students and parents about test results and the recommended course of action following testing.
Costs. The cost for I-Excel for the upcoming school year is $45 per student for group testing; this fee is discounted to $22 per student for students residing in Iowa. Please note, the Belin-Blank Center no longer has grant funding to provide I-Excel testing at no cost to Iowa 5th graders. However, Iowa schools using I-Excel for the first time in 3 years can request up to 20 free student test registrations so they can try out I-Excel with their students.
Individual ACT registration is $70. This includes both the testing fee and the talent search fee, and students are provided with the individualized report mentioned above. The group rate is $60, if the teacher registers the students.
For both I-Excel and ACT, fee reductions are provided for students eligible for the free/reduced cost lunch program.
For more information, see:
The Best-Kept Secret in Gifted Education: Above-Level Testing — This post offers an overview of the theory and research behind above-level testing.
I’m Ready to Set Up I-Excel Testing for This Year: Where Do I Start?— Specific steps for setting up I-Excel are included in this post.
Have Your 7th-9th Graders Registered to Take the ACT? — This post includes useful information about using the ACT as an above-level test for 7th through 9th grade students. Current information about fees, test session dates, and registration deadlines can be found at www.belinblank.org/talent-search.