As of the 2016-17 competition year, NAQT has changed its definition of small schools.
NAQT's Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT) has two divisions, each of which is open to a different class of small schools:
The Traditional Public division is open to any public high school that meets these criteria:
It has an average daily membership (ADM) of 500 or fewer students in grades 10–12.
It is the default school for a school district. (That is, students are entitled to attend the school by virtue of living in a specific district and they cannot be turned down.)
It does not limit its enrollment, but is required to accept as many students as want to attend.
It does not include an academically selective magnet program that draws students from outside its default district(s).
Charter schools that meet these criteria may play in this division. Teams from home-school collectives may not play in this division.
International Baccalaureate programs are not considered "selective magnet programs" for the purpose of these criteria.
The Charter-and-Private division is open to any high school that meets these criteria:
It has an ADM of 350 or fewer students in grades 10–12.
It is a charter school with a lottery-based admissions policy or it is a private school.
For the purposes of these rules, a "lottery-based admissions policy" means that any student is eligible to apply and the school is required to place all applicants into a lottery. The school is also allowed to offer child- or sibling-preference.
Teams from home-school collectives may not play in this division.
More details about qualifying for the SSNCT are available online.
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 for one of the divisions. NAQT will review the results to determine the top-placing team(s) that are eligible for each division of the SSNCT and issue invitations to those schools.
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.