• Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    • What is ACCESS?

    • ACCESS is an alternative academic program designed for highly accelerated students in grades 2-8. The program provides both advanced curriculum and social emotional supports to students in the Portland Public School District who meet two criteria:
      • Have scored in the 99th percentile on a nationally normed test. (For a list of accepted tests, click here.)
      • Demonstrate a need for the ACCESS Program. See below for examples of need.
    • Portland Public Schools provides free busing to ensure the services ACCESS provides are available to students districtwide.
    • Who Are ACCESS Students?

    • We believe in equitable access to ACCESS for students from all demographics. We acknowledge that historically numerous groups of students have been underserved with TAG services nationwide, and we do not accept that this is the way it must be. We are explicit in our work to make sure that ACCESS is for BIPOC students, female and non-binary students, linguistically diverse students, differently abled students, students without high socioeconomic privilege, and all other varieties of students. We know that there is no one way that highly gifted students look, sound, or behave, and we know that we are a stronger learning community because we have differences. We are committed to being the model program for highly gifted students in PPS and the state of Oregon, based on the pillars of a strong community of belonging and meeting the appropriate rates and levels of curriculum needs of our students in a way that is culturally responsive and differentiated. 
    • ACCESS students come from diverse backgrounds and live in neighborhoods all over the district. (In 2018, students from 56 different Portland Public schools were represented at ACCESS!) ACCESS students may be accelerated in a single subject area or in many, and may have a high degree of asynchrony between subjects. Many ACCESS students have interests and strengths in art, music, leadership, dance, athletics, and other activities. As a community, we highly value meeting each child where they are, both academically and emotionally. Like other PPS schools, our counselors handle the 504 case load. We also have a Special Education Learning Center teacher for those on IEPs.
    • How does ACCESS support the intellectual needs of accelerated students?

    • ACCESS teachers extend the District’s Core Curriculum by:
      • Providing accelerated, deeper, and project-based learning opportunities;
      • Grouping students for reading and writing workshops at their ability level;
      • Placing all students in the math class at their ability level, rather than their grade level; students are assessed frequently and moved as needed;
      • Offering extra support for time management, organization, and other executive functions as needed.
    • How does ACCESS support the social-emotional needs of accelerated students?

    • ACCESS brings students together from across the district to create a robust accelerated peer group. Students and parents often speak of fitting in and feeling a strong sense of belonging at ACCESS. As a community, we highly value the emotional and academic growth of each child. Supports include:
      • Opportunities for developing and deepening social emotional skills integrated into the curriculum by teachers;
      • Optional clubs, after school programs, a talent show, and other community-building activities;
      • A full-time counselor and a part-time counselor to provide weekly guidance classes, one-on-one support, social clubs, support for students with 504 plans, and other activities;
      • A Special Education Learning Center teacher to support students with IEPs.
    • What elementary electives are offered at ACCESS?

    • Elementary students at ACCESS receivee:
      • PE two times per week
      • Art two times per week
      • Library/Technology one time per week 
      • Guidance/Counseling regularly
    • What Middle School classes are offered at ACCESS? (to be updated in spring of 24 as we schedule for 7 period middle school day)

    • 6th Grade
      One semester - Art 
      One semester - PE/Health 
      Humanities or STEM Enrichment Elective
      Social Studies
      Language Arts 6
      Integrated Science

      7th Grade
      One semester - Art
      One semester - PE/Health 
      HS Credit Spanish or STEM or Humanities elective or Leadership elective
      Language Arts 7
      Social Studies
      Integrated Science B

      8th Grade
    • One semester - Art
      One semester - PE/Health 
      HS Credit Spanish or STEM or Humanities elective or Leadership elective
      Language Arts 8
      Social Studies
      Physics 1-2: NGSS
    • What other activities do ACCESS students participate in?

    • ACCESS students may participate in a variety of optional activities throughout the year. Most of these activities are held during the school day so that all students who wish to participate can. 
      • Schoolwide talent show
      • Schoolwide Read-A-Thon & celebration of books
      • Haunted hallway (leadership opportunity for 8th grade)
      • Renaissance Faire (leadership opportunity for 7th grade)
      • Girls Empowerment Group
      • Games Club
      • Sexuality and Gender Acceptance and Appreciation (SAGA)
      • National Spelling Bee
      • Oregon Battle of the Books
      • Chess Club
      • More lunchtime clubs!
    • How can we decide if ACCESS might be a “good fit” for our qualified student?

    • The decision to change schools is not easy, especially for families with students for whom transitions are challenging. We encourage you to come visit us at one of our informational tours (see full schedule once application season rolls around here). If you would like to talk with an ACCESS family in your quadrant or with similar characteristics or needs as your child, please email access.pta.dei@gmail.com and we will connect you!
    • How do we apply to ACCESS?

    • Complete the newly unified ACCESS application through ParentVue. (Application will be available on February 15, 2024.)
    • Do students who applied to ACCESS in prior years have to apply again?

    • Yes, please complete the application in ParentVue.
    • How is ACCESS eligibility determined in the ACCESS Application?

    • Those who submit a qualifying test result and complete the application fully will go into the lottery. No further evaluation is required.
    • What do you mean by “need”?

    • State guidelines for alternative programs dictate that students must demonstrate a need for that program. Highly accelerated students show their need for more than what their neighborhood school can offer in a variety of ways. Guidelines for assessing need include but are not limited to (all students testing in the 99% qualify under the first bullet point):
      • The student has met or exceeded all, or a majority of, benchmarks or standards for their age.
      • The district believes that the student's educational interests and needs are best met in an alternative setting.
      • The student is not benefiting from a regular educational program.
      • The student exhibits, or has the potential to exhibit, substantial underachievement in relationship to their ability.
      • The student exhibits erratic attendance, low self-esteem, and/or difficulty with peers.     


    • If you are home schooling, at a charter school, moving from out of district, or have another reason to get outside testing, there are many private groups, individual testers, and universities providing these services in the Portland area. The cost of testing, and whether it will be covered by insurance, varies based on what tests you are having done and which provider you use. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few places that have been used by ACCESS families:
      Pacific University Psychology & Comprehensive Health Clinic
      George Fox University Behavioral Health Center
      Mindsights PDX
      The Children's Program
      You can also use test results from another district or location. For a full list of accepted tests, see here
    • How many open seats are there per grade level for the 2024-25 school year?

    • Every grade is anticipated to have empty slots to fill. Waitlists will be kept and candidates pulled as openings become available throughout the school year.
      Typically, the most spots are found in2nd, 3rd, and 6th grade; however, there are spots throughout the grades and families at every grade level are encouraged to apply.
    • When will parents receive lottery results?

    • Results will be communicated in a timely fashion (most likely within 4-6 weeks after March 15), so families can make their decisions for the 24-25 school year and have plenty of time to gather more data about ACCESS. The school will host further informative events for new incoming families. 
    • What happens if a student is eligible but does not get in via the lottery?

    • Students will also be placed on a waitlist and notified if a spot opens for them at ACCESS at any time during the school year. Please feel free to contact the PPS TAG Department or the ACCESS administrators with any questions on the ACCESS Academy Admissions process and/or TAG services in your neighborhood school.
    • Does Portland Public Schools offer busing to ACCESS?

    • Yes! Portland Public Schools provides free busing from all areas of the city to ensure the services ACCESS provides are available to students districtwide.
    • Where can I learn more about the needs and characteristics of highly accelerated learners?

    • Davidson Institute: www.davidsongifted.org
      Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page: www.hoagiesgifted.org
      NWGCA: Northwest Gifted Child Association: www.nwgca.org
      OATAG: The Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted: www.oatag.org