Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) Policies

2017-2018

The Belin-Blank Center reserves the right to modify or waive these policies. The Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) is subject to the Belin-Blank Center’s privacy policy.

In all cases except I-Excel dates coordinated by the school, the Belin-Blank Center will not share scores unless given explicit written permission by the parent. While the Center does not offer score-sending as a service, we recommend that families share scores with educators at the child’s school, particularly those involved in making decisions about the child’s academic progress. For I-Excel dates coordinated by the school, the primary educator arranging the test date will have full access to the scores resulting from the test date and will be able to distribute scores to families.

Please note that fees and policies have changed from previous years.

Your child’s data may be used in aggregate and unidentifiable form to contribute to norms.

I-Excel Policies

  • Students may take the test a maximum of once per academic year.
  • Special accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please direct inquiries to assessment@belin-blank.org.
  • The vast majority of students who take I-Excel are in grades 4-6. In a few cases, a third grader may be ready for I-Excel.
  • The date and time of the test date must be set and communicated to BESTS staff as of one week before the beginning of the test date window in order to guarantee having BESTS tech support on call. Certain dates or times will not be permitted, due to unavailability of BESTS tech support. These are referred to as blackout dates and are listed here.
  • Scores will not be released to the school or parents until all fees are paid in full.
  • There are a few ways that you can prepare for the test.
  • Testing may be split over two days, shortening the amount of uninterrupted time needed. This can make scheduling easier.
    • If testing is split over two days, the first 2 sections will be administered on the first test day, and the second 2 sections will be administered on the second day. Testing must be completed within one week. Other arrangements for splitting the test are not permitted.
    • For more details about how to test over the course of two days, contact assessment@belinblank.org.
  • Group I-Excel Testing (4 or more students)
    • Cost: $45 per child, free for 5th graders in Iowa
    • Cost for students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $25
      • The number of partial fee waivers for Free/Reduced Price Lunch is limited per academic year on a first-come, first-served basis.
      • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
    • Payment
      • Refunds are available for students if we are notified by email by one day before the testing session window opens. Refund requests received the day of the testing window or later will be denied. Special circumstances may apply.
      • Payment options: individual parent checks, group check/payment order from the school, individual parent credit card payments. The teacher selects this option during registration.
        • If the school opts to allow parents to pay via credit card, unpaid registrations will be dropped the day before the test date.
        • If the school opts to pay via check or payment order, the educator will receive an invoice approximately a week before the test date.
        • Checks should be made out to BESTS and, if a check is for an individual student, have the child’s name in the memo line.
      • Scores will not be released to the school or parents until a test date is paid in full (including any fees).
      • Scores are released by test date – it is not possible to release scores for just a portion of the students who tested during a given date.
      • Once a test date is paid in full and any irregularities have been reported and resolved, scores will be released within two weeks.
    • Educators arranging test dates and any staff that assist them agree to abide by the rules and procedures in the I-Excel administration manual and understand that deviation from this manual can jeopardize the reliability of the results.
      • In particular, it is important to follow the manual’s instructions for timing and the break halfway through the test.
      • Monitoring the students closely during testing is also crucial.
    • Test date monitoring
      • Belin-Blank Center staff will monitor test dates electronically and may follow up with the educator who arranged the test date to resolve any anomalies.
    • Retesting/missed test date
      • Retesters (students who were absent due to illness or other unforeseeable circumstances) must complete their tests within seven days of the original testing date. This is defined as the first date that students began testing. No additional fees will be assessed in this case.
      • If a student cannot finish testing within seven days, the registration must be moved to a new test date in order for the student to test. The fee associated with moving to a new test date is $25, payable by the school or the parent. If the student is not tested within the testing window of the new date, no refunds will be available, either of the original fee or the retest fee.
      • If a student registers, ultimately does not test, and did not cancel their registration by the day before testing window opened, no refunds are available.
  • Individual I-Excel Testing (3 or fewer students)
    • Cost: $85 per child
    • Cost for students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $50.
      • The number of partial fee waivers for Free/Reduced Price Lunch is limited per academic year on a first-come, first-served basis.
      • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
    • Individual testing is often requested by a parent, although occasionally educators carry out individual testing if they have a question about a particular student’s readiness for additional challenge.
    • Payment
      • Payment for individual testing is by check or payment order only.
      • Refunds are available for students if we are notified by email by one day before the testing session window opens. Refund requests received the day of the testing window or later will be denied. Special circumstances may apply.
      • Scores will not be released to the school or parents until a test date is paid in full (including any fees).
      • Once a test date is paid in full and any irregularities have been reported and resolved, scores will be released within two weeks.
    • In the case that the testing is requested by a parent, the parent is responsible for finding a licensed educator (who is not related to the child) who is willing to proctor the test.
  • The Belin-Blank Center periodically offers I-Excel testing on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. This type of test date is open to all qualifying students and only requires that parents drop off and pick up their child at the designated times.
    • Cost: $70 per child
    • Cost for students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $50
    • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
    • Payment for these dates is by credit card only.
    • Refunds are available for students if we are notified by email by one day before the testing session window opens. Refund requests received the day of the testing window or later will be denied. Special circumstances may apply.
    • Scores are generally released within two weeks of the test date.

ACT Policies

  • Students who register for the ACT through the Belin-Blank Center are subject to all ACT policies.
  • How the registration process works
    1. The Belin-Blank Center provides a one-step registration process for high-ability 7th-9th graders. That is, registration through BESTS signs students up both as members of the talent search and for the specific test date. Parents sign up their child for the test date of their choice and request a test date location. Please note that the Belin-Blank Center cannot guarantee a test location, as they are subject to changes by ACT and seat limits. Particularly during the spring test dates, testing locations may fill, and ACT will assign students to the next-closest testing location.
    2. The Belin-Blank Center sends the information for paid in full registrations to ACT (usually weekly). Registrations without full payment will not be sent to ACT. If they are not paid by the early registration deadline, the late registration fee will be added. If they are not paid by the late registration deadline, registrations will be dropped.
    3. Once the registration has been sent to ACT, we are unable to refund the base fee or late registration fee. If you would like to cancel a registration shortly after paying, please contact assessment@belinblank.org as soon as possible.
    4. Once the registration is processed, ACT will mail an admission ticket to the mailing address associated with the registration. You must bring the admission ticket and acceptable identification to the testing location the day of the test. If the child taking the test does not yet have an ID issued by a city/state/federal government agency or school, they will need to fill out the talent search ID and bring it to the testing location in place of an ID. More instructions for preparation and the day of the test are available on our ACT Academic Talent Search Instruction Folder.
    5. If your child is 13 or older, we recommend making a copy of the admission ticket to help you received the scores faster (see next point).
    6. ACT generally sends scores through the mail to parents 2-4 weeks after the test date. If your child is 13 or older (the federal age at which a child can have an online account), they usually send an email with instructions to sign in to an online account to see the scores. That online account requires that you have access to the ACT ID, which is printed on the admission ticket. If you don’t have a copy of it, parents have had success in calling the main ACT customer service line (319-337-1270), explaining that their child tested through a talent search, and asking for help logging in.
  • There are a few ways that you can prepare for the test.
  • Accommodations (disability or English Language Learner status)
    • Students with documented disabilities may be eligible for accommodations through ACT. Students testing through BESTS should complete and pay for their registration, then use this form to request accommodations (disregard instructions to go through the school-based request system).
    • Accommodations are available through ACT for English Language Learners. Students testing through BESTS should complete and pay for their registration, then use this form to request accommodations (disregard instructions to go through the school-based request system).
    • There are two types of accommodations/English Language Learner supports – this infographic can help you decide which one is the best fit.
  • Individual ACT registrations
    • Cost: $70 (includes both the testing fee and the talent search fee)
      • Cost for students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $35
      • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
    • Late registration fee: $29.50
    • Parents can save money by registering for an ACT date by that date’s early registration deadline. However, they must complete payment by that deadline, as well. If payment is not resolved by that deadline, the late registration fee will be added to the registration.
    • No refunds will be granted after the test registration is sent to ACT (see “How the registration process works” for details).
  • Group ACT registration: Educators may choose to register multiple students for an ACT test date. The cost is reduced in this circumstance.
    • Cost: $55 (includes both the testing fee and the talent search fee)
    • Late registration fee: $29.50
    • Teachers should register each student with the teacher’s email address and school mailing address to ensure results are sent to the school. We encourage teachers to share these results with families.
    • For more details on registering a group of students for ACT, email assessment@belinblank.org.
    • No refunds will be granted after the test registration is sent to ACT (see “How the registration process works” for details).

Engage Policies

  • The Belin-Blank Center offers Engage, a psychosocial measure from ACT.
  • The Belin-Blank Center offers Engage at no cost to educators. It is intended to be a supplement to other information when making decisions about student readiness for additional challenge.
  • Engage begins at 6th grade, but we have given it to high-ability students a year or two younger with some additional explanation.
  • Engage is not meant to be a sole determinant of a student’s readiness for challenge, and it does not include academic items. Engage is a measure of a student’s perception of their motivation, social engagement, and self-regulation. Learn more about what Engage measures.
  • For details about setting up the Engage assessment, email assessment@belinblank.org.

For questions about any of the above policies, please contact assessment@belinblank.org.