Middle School Eligibility Rules
- This document defines NAQT’s eligibility rules for middle school tournaments.
- Middle school tournaments are quiz bowl tournaments primarily targeted at middle school-age students, even if they aren’t enrolled at institutions traditionally described as “middle schools.”
- These rules will be used by the Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT).
- NAQT suggests, but does not require, that other middle school tournaments using questions from NAQT adopt these eligibility rules. NAQT recommends that hosts explicitly indicate the eligibility rules that apply to their tournaments.
- Middle school tournaments not using questions from NAQT are welcome to use these rules—including linking to them, duplicating them, and distributing them to teams—so long as NAQT is credited as their creator. It is not necessary to inform NAQT that this is being done.
Each competition year extends from August 1 through July 31 of the following year. For example, the 2017–2018 competition year began on August 1, 2017.
By default, a school is an accredited educational institution with a cohesive, comprehensive, multi-subject academic, activities, and administrative program on a single physical campus (contiguous parcel of land, notwithstanding minor auxiliary facilities like off-site athletic fields) that students typically attend full-time and in-person.
- If an institution claiming (or informally seeming) to be one school is split over multiple campuses, multiple institutions share a single campus but informally seem to be different schools, multiple institutions are closely intertwined in other fashions, or an institution has no physical campus, NAQT will determine the institution’s or institutions’ status by reference to their name(s), classification by government agencies and/or other relevant groups (such as athletic associations), public appearances (such as their website(s)), student atmosphere, the cohesiveness of the programs mentioned above, and other information that may be provided by the institutions or may be acquired otherwise.
- The phrase “students typically attend full-time” does not mean that a particular student must attend the school full-time to be eligible to compete for it. It only means that the school must offer a full-time program and that most of its students must attend full-time.
- If a private school has separate campuses for a lower school, possibly a middle school, and an upper school, and the schools are run as a cohesive whole with the same name, and students typically automatically advance from one campus to the next (unless they are removed by their parents/guardians), then the school will be treated as a single school for NAQT eligibility purposes.
Schools that include at least one grade between kindergarten and 8th grade (inclusive) are eligible to compete at middle school tournaments.
- The presence of grades beyond 8th does not disqualify a school from competing at middle school tournaments (though students in those later grades are ineligible).
- All types of schools are eligible. This includes, but is not limited to, middle schools, junior high schools, primary schools, secondary schools, public schools, private schools, religious schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and military academies.
- If a combination of schools is permitted to compete together (as a “co-op”) in quiz bowl or a substantially similar buzzer-based activity by a multi-discipline state athletic and/or activities association, then that co-op is permitted to compete the same way under these eligibility rules. The manner of recording their results is at NAQT’s discretion. Coaches of such co-ops and hosts of tournaments at which they compete are very strongly urged to notify NAQT of the details of the situation.
- All homeschool co-ops and online schools that meet the standards laid out in Section G of these Eligibility Rules, and which have properly registered with NAQT per the guidelines of Section G, are considered “schools” for the purposes of these rules.
- Other educational institutions with students of an appropriate age may request an exception from NAQT to be allowed to compete at middle school tournaments. This must be requested by writing to email@example.com at least 14 days before the first tournament at which the institution wants to compete.
- By default, a school is an accredited educational institution with a cohesive, comprehensive, multi-subject academic, activities, and administrative program on a single physical campus (contiguous parcel of land, notwithstanding minor auxiliary facilities like off-site athletic fields) that students typically attend full-time and in-person.
- To be eligible to compete under these rules, a player must be enrolled in grade 8 or below during a school year the majority of whose days fall within the competition year during which the tournament is held.
- An player who graduates from 8th grade also remains eligible to compete at middle school tournaments until the end of the competition year during which they graduated.
- A player who wishes to compete under these eligibility rules on the basis of being homeschooled, being in a registered homeschool co-op (as described in Section G), or being in an academic program that does not use standard American grades must not have turned 15 years old as of March 31 during the competition year—in other words, they must still be 14 or younger as of March 31.
- Students may only compete at middle school tournaments for schools with which they have an affiliation.
A player automatically establishes an affiliation with a school for a given competition year by enrolling in and regularly attending at least one class that…
- Appears (or will normally appear) on the player’s transcript at that school
- Is in a single traditional core curriculum subject (such as science, mathematics, language arts, literature, history, or social studies)
- Is held in an academic term the majority of whose days fall within that competition year
- A player automatically establishes an affiliation with a homeschool co-op for a given competition year by being taught by members or employees of that co-op over a period of at least 90 days that fall within that competition year.
- Affiliation does not require that a school allow a particular player to compete on its teams; the formation of teams is under the control of the school’s quiz bowl coach(es) and/or advisor(s).
A player affiliated with multiple non-online schools (where “online school” is defined in Section G.2) may compete for all such schools during the competition year, but may only represent a single school at any given tournament. A student in such a situation must notify NAQT at firstname.lastname@example.org 14 calendar days before they compete for the second squad. Failure to do so will result in all appearances for the second squad being recorded as forfeit losses. Students with multiple affiliations must notify NAQT of this each competition year it is true; notification does not carry over between competition years.
- Students who transfer between non-online schools during the competition year (for reasons such as, but not limited to, moving, admission to specialized or magnet programs, etc.) fall under the guidelines of Rule E.5 and must notify NAQT at email@example.com 14 calendar days before they compete for the second school’s squad.
- No player may, during the same competition year, compete for multiple homeschool co-ops, multiple homeschooling families/households, multiple online schools, or a combination of those—regardless of established affiliation. No player may, during the same competition year, compete for both an online school and a non-online school—regardless of established affiliation. In other words, during a single competition year, a player may only represent a single homeschool co-op, a single homeschooling family/household, a single online school, or one or more non-online schools.
- When local standards make it untenable for a student to compete for the school they attend, NAQT may grant them an affiliation to the school they are locally permitted to compete for. This is primarily intended for districts in which magnet-school students are required to play for their “home school.” This dispensation should be requested according to the procedure of Section L. If such dispensation is granted and used, the player is not eligible to play for any school other than that “home school,” even if changes occur to make that tenable.
Squads and Teams
- A school’s squad is the set of players with an affiliation at that school for a given competition year.
- A team is a subset of a school’s squad that will compete as a unit at a specific tournament.
Homeschooled Students, Homeschool Co-ops, and Online Schools
For NAQT’s purposes, a homeschool co-op is defined as a group of families that meet on a regular basis of at least once per month during the academic year for shared classes, other structured learning time, and/or extracurricular events.
Any homeschooled children from the same family or household are eligible to compete as a team composed solely of members of that family or household, even if the family or household is not part of a larger co-op.
For NAQT’s purposes, an online school is an accredited educational institution with a cohesive, comprehensive, multi-subject academic and administrative program by which a student receives the majority of their instruction via online classes, without a centralized location where all students physically come together to receive the majority of their instruction.
If a non-online school transitions to online instruction (due to circumstances such as, but not limited to, natural disaster, human-made disaster, pandemic, or other extraordinary events) but intends to resume in-person instruction when possible, that school is not considered an online school.
All members of any one team representing a homeschool co-op or online school must have residences in the same Combined Statistical Area, in the same county or county equivalent, and/or in an area that fits within a circle with a diameter of 50 miles.
The entire squad of a homeschool co-op or online school need not meet any residential requirement. The above requirement applies separately to each team representing the homeschool co-op or online school. It is not necessary that each such team use the same criterion or residential circle.
Squads representing homeschool co-ops, online schools, and/or single-family or household homeschools must register with NAQT at least 14 days before first competing. To register, a parent or guardian whose child attends the homeschool co-op or online school, or an administrator of the program, must write to firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the following information. The documentation may take the form of links to pages on official websites, electronic documents, and/or other materials or binding statements deemed acceptable by NAQT.
- All such programs must provide the name of the homeschool co-op, online school, or family/household.
- Homeschool co-ops must provide documentation that the homeschool co-op meets the criterion in Section G.1.
Homeschool co-ops must provide documentation that the homeschool co-op meets at least one of these requirements:
- The homeschool co-op offers at least one class in a traditional core curriculum subject such as science, mathematics, language arts, literature, history, or social studies.
- The homeschool co-op offers athletic extracurriculars.
- Online schools must provide documentation that the online school meets the criteria in Section G.2.
- Single-family and household homeschools must identify the players and affirm that they are all part of the same family or household.
- Programs representing homeschool co-ops or online schools must be willing and able, upon request from NAQT, to provide documentation proving that any or all players have established an affiliation with the homeschool co-op or online school as described in Section E.2 (online schools) or Section E.3 (homeschool co-ops).
- Programs representing homeschool co-ops on online schools must be willing and able, upon request from NAQT, to provide documentation proving that a given team’s players satisfy the residency requirements of Section G.3.
- A student who is enrolled half-time or more in any school as defined in Section C.1 (including any online school as defined in Section G.2) cannot be considered homeschooled. Rather, they can play for their school under Section E. If it is unclear whether a student's enrollment counts as half-time or more, the issue should be discussed with NAQT in accordance with Section L (at least 14 days before the first relevant event).
NAQT may ban specific players, coaches, squads, and/or organizations for a specific period of time, or indefinitely, in accordance with NAQT’s rules and procedures regarding improper conduct.
- When considering bans, NAQT will apply Section K of its Gameplay Rules. This may be applied to conduct that occurred at quiz bowl tournaments (regardless of whether the tournaments used the NAQT Gameplay Rules and/or NAQT questions) or outside of tournaments.
- A ban precludes participation in events using NAQT eligibility rules (and qualification thereto) regardless of other eligibility criteria.
- NAQT will communicate bans to the banned parties unless NAQT determines that communicating the ban is unnecessary to prevent their participation or NAQT is unable to find contact information for the banned parties. In these cases, NAQT will communicate the ban to whomever NAQT deems relevant, such as (but not necessarily limited to) coaches, school administrations, etc.
- NAQT may also communicate (or not communicate, as NAQT deems appropriate) a ban to any party, including (but not necessarily limited to) tournament hosts, school administrations, other quiz bowl organizations, and quiz bowl community members.
Competing at Multiple Levels
- If a player has affiliations with institutions at different educational levels (middle school, high school, community college, college, etc.), they may compete for all such institutions up to and including attending multiple national championships, except as excluded below.
- Such a player may be prevented from attending some such tournaments due to the use of identical or overlapping question sets at tournaments produced for different education levels.
- The provisions in this section do not override the requirements for notification in Eligibility Rule E.5 (nor any other rules).
- In a given competition year, a player may only compete at NAQT championship events at the secondary or post-secondary levels, but not both. The secondary-level NAQT championships are the Middle School National Championship Tournament, Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT), High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT), and Individual Player National Championship Tournament (IPNCT); the post-secondary-level NAQT championships are the Community College Sectional Championship Tournaments (CC SCT), Community College Championship Tournament (CCCT), four-year Sectional Championship Tournaments (SCT), and Intercollegiate Championship Tournament (ICT). For example, a player may not play both the HSNCT and CC SCT (but may play both the MSNCT and HSNCT, if otherwise eligible). This applies regardless of dual-enrollment status and does not affect eligibility to compete in events other than the aforementioned NAQT championships, even if they use NAQT eligibility rules.
- By default, tournaments adhering to these eligibility rules are open to any team of players who meet these eligibility rules.
- Tournaments may choose to place further restrictions on the schools or players that participate. Any such restriction must be clearly publicized as it represents a departure from the default meaning of these eligibility rules.
At all tournaments using these Eligibility Rules…
- Players are responsible for knowing these Eligibility Rules and ensuring their own compliance with them.
- The person who registers a team is responsible for ensuring that all players on the team comply with these Eligibility Rules.
- If a nonpseudonymous team’s program has one or more coaches, the coach(es) is (are) responsible for ensuring that all players on the team comply with these Eligibility Rules.
- If a school is found to have used ineligible players, NAQT may take actions that may also affect eligible players, such as disqualifying results or rescinding invitations.
Exceptions and Special Rulings
Requests for exceptions to these Eligibility Rules, and requests to evaluate unusual and/or unanticipated situations under them, must be received by the NAQT Eligibility Committee at email@example.com at least 14 calendar days before the start of the first relevant event. Retroactive requests are not considered. The request must come from the player themself, their parent or legal guardian, or a coach of their squad. When requests come from players themselves or parents/guardians, NAQT will ensure that decisions and their consequences are communicated to squad leadership.
NAQT has granted the following eligibility exceptions:
- To Kyson Beck to play for Ransom Middle School (Cantonment, FL), effective August 15, 2023. Kyson is a 5th-grade student at Jim Allen Elementary School who requested to "play up" with Ransom Middle School, the local public school to which is he zoned, and where he expects to matriculate when appropriate.
- To Avi Thakur to play for Mount Pleasant Middle School (Livingston, NJ), effective October 17, 2023. Avi is a student at Burnet Hill Elementary School who requested to "play up" with Mount Pleasant Middle, the local public middle school to which they are zoned.
- To Andrew Gao to play for Belmont Middle High School (Belmont, MA), effective September 12, 2022. Andrew is a student at Chenery Middle School who requested to "play up" with Belmont High School, the local public school to which he is zoned and at which he intends to matriculate.
- To Abhiraam Girish to play for William Hopkins Middle School (Fremont, CA), effective October 17, 2022. Abhiraam is a student at Mission San Jose ES who requested to "play up" with Hopkins Junior High, the local public school that he is zoned to attend.
All approved variances pertaining to the NAQT Middle School Eligibility Rules in the current, next, and previous competition years are posted here. Non-approved requests are not listed.