Small High Schools

    NAQT recognizes two classes of Small Schools. These are used for the Small School National Championship Tournament. Local tournaments may have separate awards or divisions for small schools (per class or combined), or they may use other definitions of the general idea of small schools, or they may not do anything special related to school size.

    The Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT) has two divisions, each of which is open to a different class of Small Schools:

    Traditional Public Schools

    The Traditional Public Schools Division is open to any public school that meets all of these criteria:

    Charter schools that meet these criteria may play in this division. International Baccalaureate programs are not considered “selective magnet programs” for the purpose of these criteria.

    Very Small Schools

    At the Small School National Championship Tournament, NAQT gives Very Small School awards to the top teams from schools whose enrollment (calculated as described elsewhere on this page) is 200 or fewer students. Depending on the overall playoff results, additional games may be played to determine the Very Small School Awards.

    The Very Small School designation has no effect on qualification to the SSNCT.


    The Open Division is open to any school that meets all of these criteria:

    Other Notes

    The phrase “top three grades, up to 12” means that when counting a school’s enrollment NAQT will consider the total enrollment in the three highest grades less than or equal to 12 that a school offers. For instance, for most high schools, combined middle/high schools, and K–12 schools, we will use the total enrollment in grades 10–12. If a school only offers (e.g.) grades 6–10, we will use the total enrollment in grades 8–10. If a school offers grades beyond 12 (as do some Canadian schools and early-college high schools), we will use grades 10–12. If a school only offers one or two grades, we will only consider those grades.

    Schools hosting events with NAQT questions are not required to run separate divisions for small schools. If they do run divisions based on school size, they are not required to use NAQT’s definition of Small Schools when doing so. Every division that contains at least one Small School (by NAQT’s definition) will be a qualifier for the SSNCT, as long as there is no other reason the division should not be a qualifier (such as limiting teams based on ability).

    NAQT acknowledges that the colloquial notion of what constitutes a “small school” varies nationally. NAQT will use the definitions on this page to administer the SSNCT (and qualification to it), but tournament organizers may use locally appropriate definitions if they choose. If they do so, they should emphasize to participating teams that their event’s “small school division” may contain teams that are not Small Schools according to NAQT, or may exclude teams that NAQT does consider to be Small Schools. If there is any confusion, coaches should ask tournament hosts to clarify what they mean by “small school” in their announcements.

    Calculating Enrollment

    To ensure that SSNCT invitations can be issued as quickly as possible, and therefore that schools can have as much time as possible to plan and fundraise for the trip, NAQT may use enrollment data from either the current school year or the previous school year to determine a school’s Small School eligibility. If a school’s enrollment is sufficiently low in either of those years (and the other criteria are met), then the school will be considered eligible for the appropriate division of the SSNCT. All criteria other than enrollment numbers must be met in the current school year.

    However, if a school grows by adding an entire grade or merging with another school, or in other extraordinary circumstances of very large growth that NAQT may identify, the enrollment must remain low enough in the current year.

    Students count toward a school’s enrollment if and only if they are eligible to compete for the school generally, are in one of the top three grades up to 12 (see above), and are generally eligible to compete on the school’s interscholastic teams according to the school. This policy is not intended to take into account the idea that specific students might be excluded from activities due to academic performance at a given time, but rather to address questions like “Do students at our associated career and technical center count toward our enrollment?”.

    To expedite the issuing of invitations to the SSNCT, NAQT will use whatever sources of enrollment data it deems reliable, including (but not necessarily limited to) information posted by state boards/departments of education, information posted by athletic or activities associations, information posted on schools’ own websites, and phone calls and emails to schools.

    Tournament Schedule

    NAQT maintains a schedule of high school tournaments, TV shows, conferences, and leagues.

    View Schedule

    Small School National Championship Tournament

    For Small High Schools as defined by NAQT, typically in late April.

    More About the SSNCT Qualifying Past Winners