Middle School Eligibility Rules

    1. Scope
      1. This document defines NAQT’s basic eligibility rules for middle school tournaments.
      2. 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.”
      3. These rules will be used by NAQT’s Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT).
      4. 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.
      5. 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.
    2. Competition Year
      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.
    3. Schools
      1. 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, nonwithstanding minor auxiliary facilities like off-site athletic fields) that students typically attend full-time. 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.
        1. 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.
        2. 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.
      2. Schools that include at least one grade between kindergarten and 8th grade (inclusive) are eligible to compete at middle school tournaments.
        1. The presence of grades beyond 8 does not disqualify a school from competing at middle school tournaments (though students in those later grades are ineligible).
        2. 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.
      3. Home school collectives that have registered with NAQT are eligible to compete at middle school tournaments. For the purposes of these rules, such collectives will be considered “schools.”
      4. Other educational institutions with students of an appropriate age may request an exception from NAQT to be allowed to compete at middle school tournaments.
    4. Individuals
      1. An individual student is eligible to compete at middle school tournaments if he or she is in a grade between kindergarten and 8th grade (inclusive) as of the date of the tournament.
      2. An individual who graduates from 8th grade also remains eligible to compete at middle school tournaments until the end of the competition year during which he or she graduated.
      3. Individuals wishing to compete at middle school tournaments must be enrolled in grade 8 or below during the school year corresponding to the competition year of the tournament.
      4. Individuals wishing to compete at middle school tournaments who are in homeschool programs, academic programs without grades, or academic programs that do 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.
    5. Affiliation
      1. Students may only compete at middle school tournaments for schools with which they have an affiliation.
      2. A player automatically establishes an affiliation with a school for a given competition year by enrolling in an academic term the majority of whose days fall within that competition year.
      3. A player automatically establishes an affiliation with a home school collective for a given competition year by being taught by members of that collective over a period of at least 90 days that fall within that competition year.
      4. 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).
      5. A player with affiliations at multiple schools 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 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.
      6. 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 K.
    6. Squads and Teams
      1. A school’s squad is the set of players with an affiliation at that school for a given competition year.
      2. A team is a subset of a school’s squad that will compete as a unit at a specific tournament.
    7. Bans

      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.

      1. A ban precludes participation in events using NAQT eligibility rules (and qualification thereto) regardless of other eligibility criteria.
      2. NAQT will communicate bans to the banned parties unless NAQT determines that communicating the ban is unnecessary to prevent their participation.
      3. 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.
    8. Competing at Multiple Levels
      1. If a player has affiliations with institutions at different educational levels (middle school, high school, community college, college, etc.), he or she may compete for all such institutions up to and including attending multiple national championships.
      2. Such a player may be prevented from attending some such tournaments, however, due to the use of identical or overlapping question sets at tournaments produced for different education levels.
      3. The provisions in this section do not override the requirements for notification in paragraph E.5 of these rules (nor any other provisions in this rules document).
      4. 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.
    9. Restricted Fields
      1. By default, tournaments adhering to these eligibility rules are open to any team of players who meet these eligibility rules.
      2. 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.
    10. Responsibility
      1. At all tournaments using these Eligibility Rules…
        1. Players are responsible for knowing these Eligibility Rules and ensuring their own compliance with them.
        2. The person who registers a team is responsible for ensuring that all players on the team comply with these Eligibility Rules.
        3. 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.
        4. 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.
    11. 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 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 variances:


    • To Isabel Killebrew to play for Ransom Middle School (Cantonment, FL), effective November 19, 2019. Isabel is a student at L. D. McArthur Elementary School; she is zoned to attend and is expected to matriculate at Ransom Middle School.
    • To Saisha Mittal to play for Willows Preparatory School (Redmond, WA), effective November 22, 2019. Saisha is a student at Bellevue Children's Academy, a private school in the same system as Willows Preparatory School; many students from BCA matriculate at Willows upon leaving BCA.
    • To Leo Osborne to play for Monrovia Middle School (Huntsville, AL), effective March 12, 2020. Leo is a 5th grade student at Monrovia Elementary School who requested to "play up" with Monrovia Middle, the public middle school for which he is zoned and at which he is expected to matriculate next year.
    • To Maya Phillips to play for Pine City Junior/Senior High School (Pine City, MN), effective November 7, 2019. Maya is a homeschooled student who requested eligibility to compete for Pine City HS, which is her default, assigned public district high school.
    • To Iris Sha to play for Willows Preparatory School (Redmond, WA), effective November 22, 2019. Iris is a student at Bellevue Children's Academy, a private school in the same system as Willows Preparatory School; many students from BCA matriculate at Willows upon leaving BCA.
    • To Aarna Taneja to play for Willows Preparatory School (Redmond, WA), effective November 22, 2019. Aarna is a student at Bellevue Children's Academy, a private school in the same system as Willows Preparatory School; many students from BCA matriculate at Willows upon leaving BCA.
    • To Henry Wager to play for Cooperstown Middle/High School (Cooperstown, NY), effective October 1, 2019. Henry is a homeschooler (classified as a junior under NAQT rules) who attended Cooperstown HS for both his freshman and sophomore years, and who expects to return to Cooperstown HS for his senior year. Cooperstown remains his district school while he is homeschooled.


    All approved variances pertaining to the NAQT Middle School Eligibility Rules in the current and next competition years are posted here. Non-approved requests are not listed.