All applicants considered for entry to the NASSP List of Approved Contests, Programs, and Activities for Students are reviewed by the NASSP National Committee on Student Contests, Programs, and Activities based on the following standards.

Educational Standards

  • Contests and activities should be designed solely to benefit middle school and high school youth in educational, civic, social, and ethical development. Statements expressing the educational benefits, objectives, and justification of service to the school and students are to be submitted with all applications.
  • Contests and activities that motivate students to be creative and demonstrate excellence are encouraged.

Financial and Organizational Standards

  • Sponsoring organizations shall have sufficient financial backing to protect all monies paid by participating students or schools, and fulfill all responsibilities in such areas as administration, promotion, housing, travel, food, and other incidental expenses.
  • Cost of participation should be appropriate to the educational benefits to the student, school, and community.
  • Sponsors shall provide insurance to protect the interests of the sponsoring organization and individuals participating in scheduled program activities.
  • The administrative organization related to the contest or activity shall be clearly defined.
  • The organization shall operate under the laws of one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.

Promotion Standards

  • Organizations conducting contests or activities for middle level and high school students are expected to provide program notification to the principal or other designated responsible school administrator prior to student contact. In the event student contact is made via the Internet, organizations are expected to provide a means of notifying the principal in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the Direct Marketing Practices that Utilize the Internet
  • Program advertising must accurately portray the contest or activity, stating its purpose, benefits and cost to the students, and sponsorship information.
  • Promotional materials and activities shall distinguish the program and sponsoring organization from others operating under related corporate structures, the same or similar names or symbols.
  • Promotional materials must refrain from including advertisement for local recreational activities or other commercial entities beyond the listing of program sponsors.
  • Organizations conducting contests and activities for middle level and high school students should refrain from using titles, symbols, or names that imply a relationship to a federal or government agency or entity, unless such a relationship exists.

Program Standards

Discrimination (Revised May 2021)

  • Contests and activities must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or disability in the selection of otherwise eligible or qualified participants.
  • Contests and activities must not exclude students based on their immigration status if those students are otherwise eligible and qualified to participate.


  • Contests and activities involving the use of representatives or group leaders who are not sponsor organization employees, and who work directly with students, shall maintain an effective system of screening (inclusive of criminal background checks), selection, training, and supervision of those persons.
  • Sponsors of contests and activities requiring off-site participation shall provide adequate support services such as medical care or other program-related needs to all participants. The program sponsor shall have in place adequate comprehensive plans, including trained staff, for dealing with emergency/crisis situations that may occur.
  • Sponsoring organizations must provide for appropriate and adequate supervision for the duration of an event. Parents or guardians must have the ability to accompany middle level students, grades 5-8, at events requiring overnight stays.


  • Contests and activities should be held during non-school time. Those involving extensive or multiple day travel will be evaluated in terms of educational benefits to the students measured against the loss of instructional time.
  • Sponsoring organizations should provide the opportunity for students and school staff to participate in a post-program evaluation


  • Programs that engage in the sharing of student lists must obtain permission from parents of students under 18 and from students who are 18 years of age or older before releasing student information.

Adjudication and Awards Standards

  • The involvement of teachers and/or principals in the selection or judging process is discouraged where there is a conflict of interest.
  • Awards should be appropriate in number, kind, and value.
  • Scholarships should be paid directly to the institution selected by the student or directly to the student when the scholarship payment requires an agent of the selected educational institution to cosign the check.

Statement on the Release of Student Information

Both the committee and NASSP have long been concerned about the release of students’ names and directory information. Although the initial release of students’ information may be for a worthy cause, once released the school no longer has control over its distribution. Acknowledging growing sensitivity to the legal question of distributing such information, the committee cautions school personnel against releasing student information without the consent of parents or students 18 years of age or older.