Parent Frequently Asked Questions

Click on your question to view the answer below. 

What is Project SPARK?

Project SPARK is a research study that explores how schools recognize and respond to students that show high potentials for learning in grades K-2. SPARK stands for Supporting and Promoting Advanced Readiness in Kids. The purpose is to help students build on their high potential in the early grades to be ready for advanced learning opportunities in later grades.


Why has my child been invited to participate?


Your child’s teacher was asked to observe all students in the class and then refer students that showed high academic potential. Any student that was referred by a teacher has been invited to participate in Project SPARK.


Does participation in Project SPARK mean my child will be in the gifted program?

Participation in Project SPARK does not guarantee placement in the gifted program.


What are the benefits of participation?

Project SPARK is built on the Young Scholars Model, which focuses on helping students of high potential to have access to support and to advanced learning experiences, affirmation of their potential and effort, and advocates who will help to ensure their potential is developed.


What are the requirements to stay in Project SPARK?


There are no particular requirements to remain in the Project. Once the student has been referred to the Project and the parent/guardian consents, the student can remain in the project until it is completed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.


What assessments will be done?


Students will be given the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, Second Edition (NNAT-2) once upon entry to Project SPARK. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test will be given to students two times per school year over the course of the Project. To find out more about the MAP, click here


Will the results of the assessments be used for anything?


Results from the assessments will not determine whether a student is allowed to participate in Project SPARK. The results will be used by the student’s school and teachers to plan instruction that best meets the student’s individual needs. Parents will have access to assessment results as well.


What happens if our family moves during the Project?

Project SPARK is operating in four districts across Connecticut so even if your family moves, you may still be able to participate. You will just need to remain in contact with Project staff.


Once the consent form is signed, is my child required to stay in the project?


No. Of course, we would like for students to remain in Project SPARK as long as possible, but parents are allowed to withdraw consent for participation at any time.


How much does it cost to participate in the Project?

Student participation in Project SPARK is free.


What are parents required to do for the Project?


There are no requirements of the parents other than providing consent for student participation. At some point, parents may be invited to share feedback on the Project, but this is strictly voluntary.


What does participating in a comparison school mean?


Affirmation of potential can be beneficial for students and an important point of recognition for teachers, leading to positive outcomes. Teachers will receive professional development that will support them in recognizing high academic potential in the classroom. In addition, teachers will have access to project assessment information that will support their response to students showing high academic potential. Because this is a federally-funded research study, the project must compare outcomes for students who receive different levels of treatment of specific support from the project. Some interventions will not happen in comparison schools, but Project SPARK does not remove any services from any students.

Who do I contact with questions or comments?


The primary contact for Project SPARK is Dr. Catherine Little, catherine.little@uconn.edu. You may also contact the principal or teachers at your child’s school.