Gifted and Talented / ATYP

One way Kent ISD ATYP has supported Gifted and Talented students is by offering the Kent Academically Talented Youth Program. HOWEVER, ATYP is being phased out as more and more districts attempt to meet the needs of their gifted and talented students in-district. In 2021-22 we are serving only second and third year students and in 2022-23 we will only be serving third year students.  Kent ISD students can apply to participate in the Hope College, Western Michigan University, or MSU Programs (Criteria for selection are very similar to ATYP.), but would have to provide their own transportation and may have to cover tuition on their own.

All of us do not have equal talent, but all of should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent.

- John F. Kennedy

What is ATYP?

Kent Academically Talented Youth Program (ATYP) is a highly accelerated Math or Language Arts program, providing students demonstrating unusual academic promise and passion for math or language arts an opportunity to study in greater depth and complexity, at a much faster pace, with like students of similar ability and age. It is based on the Johns Hopkins Talent Search model. Similar programs are also offered at Western Michigan University, Hope College, Michigan State University, and Central Michigan University. Kent ATYP was started in 1999 as a collaboration between Kent ISD and local districts seeking appropriate challenge for exceptional middle school students.

The surest path to high self-esteem is to be successful at something you perceive would be difficult. Each time we steal our students' struggle by insisting they do work that is too easy for them, we steal their opportunity to have an esteem-building experience. Unless kids are consistently engaged in challenging work, they will lose their motivation to work hard.

- Dr. Sylvia Rimm

What is an ATYP letter

Kent ATYP will not be identifying any new students for 2022-2023 school year.

Stage I

Current fifth (97%tile), sixth and seventh grade students who score in the top five percent on a nationally normed achievement test or have a comparable score on the M-Step are identified by school districts. Parents or teachers may also nominate a student who appears to have unusually high verbal or mathematical ability.

Stage II

To be considered for participation in Kent ATYP, students identified in Stage I must take an SAT or ACT Test (preferably taken before mid-April). This may be done through the Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS*) or by independently taking an SAT or ACT at a local site. See NUMATS website for coming test dates and registration information. Regardless of which way the ACT/SAT is taken, preferably STAGE II IDENTIFICATION TESTING SHOULD BE COMPLETED IN APRIL in order for ATYP to receive scores in time to contact students about Stage III before school is out. *Students younger than 13 must test through NUMATS.

In 2021, prospective students may contact Mary Nell Baldwin at Kent ISD for alternative unofficial April and May testing dates.

Qualifying scores are listed below:


For Math                       

With prior Algebra

SAT* Math > 560 or ACT Math > 21
Math+Verbal > 1040 or Composite > 21
Not currently above 7th grade.

Without prior Algebra

SAT* Math > 530 or ACT Math > 20
Math+Verbal > 1010 or Composite > 21
Not currently above 7th grade.                   

For Language Arts

SAT* English and Writing (ERW)> 580 or ACT English + Reading > 46
(English and Reading scores each at least 22)

*Qualifying SAT scores may change with the new SAT.

Stage III (Screening)

To further qualify for ATYP placement, a group normed problem solving test score has been required, along with the usual ATYP Algebra placement test or ATYP Language Arts writing sample. These assessments will be administered by Kent ISD ATYP staff in late-May or later if a summer screening is scheduled. Our goal, is the best possible match between student and program. Optimally identification is completed by the first week of June, but some screening is done in the summer.

When are ATYP students identified?

The timeline for identification is very important. Preferably, students MUST have completed either testing at a designated NUMATS center, or have taken the ACT or SAT by the APRIL TESTING DATES in order for their scores to get to us by early May. Ideally, screening occurs in late May and all students meet with their instructors and begin the summer reading and assignments in June.

What is NUMATS?

<Link to NUMATS.  (If your child is below age 13, you must register through NUMATS. For assistance in registering for the ACT or SAT, call Mary Nell Baldwin, 616-365-2284.

Each fall there is an informational meeting held at the Kent ISD Educational Service Center, usually the third Monday in October 6:30-8:00, for any parents interested in learning more about NUMATS testing and what is needed to enter the ATYP program. Call 616-365-2284 to confirm date and time.

Kent ATYP courses are taught in a blended format, meaning there is both an online component and a class (face to face) component. Students are expected to do summer learning assignments and to have access to the technology to electronically submit work in addition to the weekly face to face class time during the school year. 2021-2022 all ATYP classes are in-person, but students who are unable to go to school due to illness, quarantine, or weather may join the class via Zoom.

Kent ATYP classes meet Wednesdays on the Kent ISD Campus (1655 East Beltline NE) on the Kent ISD Campus. ATYP students receive information about exact first semester classroom assignments each August. Students will be assigned to either session one: 6:55-9:10, session two: 9:15-11:30 or session three 12:00-2:15. Class schedules change from year to year depending on the number of sections of each course needed. 

ATYP English classes meet one Monday evening most months from 5:30-8:00 p.m. for ELA Extension and on most Mondays an optional ELA virtual drop-in study table is available for students needing individual assistance. Each Math class has a monthly Monday evening hands-on session from 5:30-8 p.m. All Monday night study tables are virtual (but Extension Nights and hands-on sessions are held at the Kent ISD Educational Service Center (ESC), 2930 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids, 49525. (Park in Lot #11)

How is the ATYP Calendar Set?

ATYP Calendar for face to face classes: The Kent ATYP calendar is developed from the calendar recommended by the Kent ISD Superintendents’ Association Perpetual Calendar Committee. Kent ATYP classes will meet on days when local districts have half days or full days off for conferences, in services, special vacations, or exams, etc. The only scheduled days when Kent ATYP classes do not meet are listed in the Kent County Common Calendar Agreements, ex. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. For 2021-2022, all Wednesday classes will be in-person at KCTC. Monday night extensions and hands-on sessions will meet at ESC.

Some districts with multiple students participating transport students to Kent ATYP classes. The move to Kent ISD Campus has helped districts pool their transportation times since they were transporting students to this campus already. However, some students are transported by parents individually or in carpools.  The campus has ample parking and easy access. 

What about SNOW DAYS?

Because ATYP students come from all over Kent County, frequently not all schools close for weather on the same days. ATYP will be closed if Kent Career Tech Center is closed.  ATYP will close if such a high percentage of our students come from schools that are closed that our classes will not be viable. If ATYP closes, ATYP will attempt to notify parents by email and/or Moodle and students should expect class via Zoom. If ATYP classes are meeting when your school has a snow day, parents should decide whether it is safe to drive their student to ATYP. Whenever there is a snow day, students should check their class Moodle for instructions and assignments.

ATYP continues remotely on snow days.

Instructors for ATYP classes are carefully selected by the Director with the advice of Kent ISD Director of Teaching & Learning and current ATYP staff for their expertise in content as well as their skill in working with this special student population. Characteristics sought include total mastery of content, respect for original thinking, high educational standards, understanding of middle school gifted students and a keen sense of humor. ATYP instructors generally come from area colleges and universities or are recently retired outstanding secondary instructors and frequently have other teaching responsibilities in area colleges and/or K-12 schools.

ATYP costs one twelfth of the foundation grant per student per course per year for Kent ISD residents and is paid by many districts/schools for their students. Please consult with the counselor/principal/director of your school about its Kent ATYP tuition policy. Individual payment arrangements are the responsibility of the parent and the sending school. Registration is not complete until a Responsibility Agreement has been received by Kent ISD. Kent ISD will bill each student’s school in January, after the ATYP instructor, parents and student have been able to determine that Kent ATYP is an appropriate placement for the student. If the parents are responsible for tuition, payment should be made to the sending school as agreed. If a student is home schooled except for ATYP, contact Mary Nell Baldwin, Kent ATYP Director, for an individual agreement.

Registration Fee 

There is a $25 non-refundable fee to register for Kent ATYP due at the time of registration in the spring of each year. The registration fee is usually paid by the student’s parents and indicates the student’s serious intent to participate in Kent ATYP in the fall. Classes are formed and instructors scheduled based on the number of students registered by early June.

ATYP classes are HIGH SCHOOL level courses. Each semester, Kent ATYP semester evaluations provide recommendations to the sending school for granting credit. Kent ATYP suggests to sending schools that Kent ATYP credit be recorded on the student’s high school transcript as soon as the student’s transcript is generated, and that student semester evaluations be included in the student’s cumulative folder. In accordance with Michigan law, high school credit should be awarded for mastery* of high school content. Kent ATYP courses are carefully aligned with the High School Content Expectations (HSCE) and National Common Core. Course alignment documents are available to schools upon request. Student high school placement for the fourth and subsequent years should be based on the student’s demonstrated mastery of content. Kent ATYP has no control over whether or not “Honors Points” are awarded by the school. Final credit decisions are the prerogative of the school, but should reflect the student’s mastery of content.  Michigan law now requires that students be given high school credit for high school courses mastered before entering high school.

Upon completing some ATYP courses, such as Algebra I/II, students have mastered two full years of high school math and should receive credit for high school Algebra I and high school Algebra II. For ATYP courses such as PreCalc/Statistics (Year 3 of ATYP Math sequence) and LA III students take one or two AP exams and should be awarded credit for those courses based on test scores. PreCalc/Statistics students take the AP Statistics exam; LA III students should receive English Honors 11 credit plus credit for AP English: Literature and Composition and/or AP English Language and Composition based on exams taken and scores earned.

State Positions on Credit Granting

Parents/counselors need to be aware of state level positions regarding the granting of high school credit, in case a question should arise:

  1. Section 1279b of the Michigan School Code provides for Credit By Examination (Testing Out). The law, in effect since 1993, requires that students enrolled in high school (those who have completed eighth grade) have the option to “test out” of courses in which they are not enrolled. The parent must request that their student be given the opportunity to test out of a course, or courses; first and second year algebra, for instance.  The student must then pass, at a level equivalent to a grade of C+ or higher, the course final examination.  Students who pass must then be granted high school credit for the course(s).  The credit must be recorded on the high school transcript, although no grade is to be recorded.  Credits earned under Section 1279B count toward fulfillment of course sequence requirements, but may or may not be counted toward fulfillment of the district’s graduation requirements as determined by the local Board of Education.
  2. The 2006 Required High School Curriculum (The “Merit Core”) legislation includes the following in Section 1278A: (4) A student is considered to have completed a credit if the student successfully completes the subject area content expectations or guidelines developed by the Michigan Department of Education that apply to the credit.  A school district or public school academy shall base its determination of whether a student has successfully completed the subject area content expectations or guidelines developed by the department that apply to a credit at least in part on the student’s performance on the assessments developed or selected by the Department or on 1 or more assessments developed or selected by the school district or public school academy that measure a student’s understanding of the subject area content expectations or guidelines that apply to the credit.  (*ATYP students do take the available state exams each spring and must score 70% or higher to fulfill this requirement.)
  3. If a pupil successfully completes 1 or more of the high school credits required under subsection (1) or under section 1278A (1) before entering high school, the pupil shall be given high school credit for that credit.
  4. Families should be aware that the Michigan State Board of Education, in its January 7, 1998 Resolution for Talent Development Week, stated the following:                                                                                           

Whereas, the Board encourages school districts to establish policies which eliminate barriers and allow students to progress at their own rate and receive appropriate credit for course work completed, regardless of age or grade placement.

Parent advocacy for local adoption of the types of policies encouraged by the State Board of Education is an effective way to ensure that the content mastery demonstrated by Kent ATYP students is appropriately recognized and recorded as high school credit for those Michigan Merit Core courses mastered before high school. 

Language Arts

LA I = English Honors 9
LA II= English Honors 10
LA III= English Honors 11  (with option to take the AP Language and Composition/AP Literature and Composition test at student cost at sending HS)


Year I

Algebra I = Algebra I  High School level integrated with STEM activities
Algebra II = Advanced Algebra High School level integrated with STEM activities

Year II

Geometry = Geometry High School level with Trigonometry and Computer 3-D based systems

Year III

Advanced Math = PreCalc and Statistics (with option to take the AP STATS test at student cost at home HS)

Most LA students completing three years of ATYP English/Language Arts return to their home district HS to take either their senior level English, English electives, such as Creative Writing,  or dual enroll in college courses, as indicated by their performance on the AP English exams.

Most Math students return to their home district HS to take AP Calculus BC and the AP Calculus BC exam. Then, most Dual Enroll at local colleges. 

ATYP Math Junior is no longer offered.

ATYP Math Jr. was designed for 5th and 6th graders, who love Math and learn Math very quickly. It covers in one year the PreAlgebra concepts normally taught over four years to 5th through 8th graders with hands-on STEM activities that apply the Math concepts that students are learning to real world situations. Students also learn to work in teams to solve problems.

A successful ATYP Math Jr. student probably scored at the 97-99th percentile on a grade level, nationally normed assessment, such as NWEA MAP, and was in the top 25% of Level 4 scorers on M-STEP in 4th or 5th grade. A student is recommended for ATYP Math Jr. by his/her school principal.

Questions? Please contact Mary Nell Baldwin at 616-365-2284 or