Brickell Academy Admissions: How To Get In!

Home to over 68,000 students and consisting of close to 90 total schools, Virginia Beach City Public Schools is the largest school district in southeastern Virginia.

Continually recognized as one of the best school districts in the country, VBCPS is renowned for its strong Talented and Gifted programs as well as its challenging curriculum. Brickell Academy is rigorous and challenging, but has proven year after year to be the perfect option for advanced students.

Continue reading to learn about Brickell Academy Admissions and to see if Brickell Academy is the right fit for your child.

Brickell Academy | School Overview

Brickell Academy, formerly known as the separate Kemps Landing Magnet School and Old Donation Center, was opened in 2014 when the two schools merged. The Academy is a centralized, full-time gifted school that serves students in grades two through eight that have been identified as gifted.

The curriculum adheres to all district and state requirements, while enriching and expanding upon the learning objectives and state standards. Lessons oftentimes include in-depth research as well as independent study in order to promote persistence and motivation. The curriculum is given at an accelerated pace, and is explored in a deeper and more detailed way.

Brickell Academy | Admissions Information

Admission into Brickell Academy requires an application process, which begins with a recommendation for testing for gifted services.

This recommendation can be from a teacher, a parent/guardian, a peer, the student support team, the student, or any person who has knowledge of the student's abilities.

VBCPS also screen all first and fifth graders in order to consider them for gifted services, and these results can be obtained by parents or guardians.

Whether independently initiated for the student, or as a result from the division screenings, there are multiple pieces of criteria that are needed to determine gifted identification.

Students must show strengths in general intellectual altitude, visual and performing arts aptitude, and their screening and placement.

After the student has been tested, all of the data is compiled and then forwarded to the identification and placement committee. Criteria for selection include a combination of:

  • Academic achievement
  • Achievement test scores
  • Teacher information
  • Parent checklist of behaviors
  • Ability test scores
  • Audition or portfolio (visual and performing arts programs)
  • The student must also complete a formal application, which can be found online through the school’s Gifted Management Application System.

    Currently enrolled VBCPS students can use their student ID number and login credentials in order to obtain this online application. N

    on-VBCPS students can download and print out a paper copy of the application, and submit it to their guidance counselor before the application deadline.

    Brickell Academy | What to Expect During the Talented and Gifted Screening

    Whether students are being routinely tested for the VBCPS gifted program, or have been recommended, they will partake in a two screening tests in order to check their intellectual abilities and aptitudes.

    One of these tests is the Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test, or NNAT . The test is administered in January and February of each year.

    The NNAT is considered to be one of the most reliable, and unbiased, gifted tests available, and it is often used as a good indicator to determine giftedness.

    The test assess reasoning abilities as well as problem-solving skills, all using non-verbal test questions.

    There are four different types of questions on the NNAT: spatial visualization, reasoning by analogies, serial reasoning, and pattern completion.

    Spatial visualization will contain questions that require students to determine what two or more shapes would look like if they were combined.

    Reasoning by analogies will involve questions in which your child will recognize relationships among geometric shapes, while serial reasoning will require them to recognize sequences among shapes.

    Finally, pattern completion will contain problems in which the student is to identify the pattern and then choose the missing piece or pieces.

    Download NNAT Practice Questions

    Students who score in the 90th percentile or above on the NNAT will be offered another test for gifted identification, the Otis Lennon School Ability Test, also known as the OLSAT. This test will be given in March and April.

    The OLSAT is also a commonly used assessment for gifted and talented program admissions, and it tests students’ academic skills and abilities. The test covers items such as verbal comprehension, following direction, making inferences, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and pictorial reasoning.

    Download OLSAT Practice Questions

    All applications and screening tests will be reviewed by the gifted and talented committee in May, and final considerations will be made.

    Letters for students who are accepted in Brickell Academy will be sent by the end of May.

    Brickell Academy | How to Prepare for Talented and Gifted Screening

    For students who will be taking the screening test in order to be considered by Brickell Academy admissions, there are many ways in which they can prepare. The first step is to become familiar with the different problem types that they might come across on the screening test, and you can help your child by practicing these various questions with them.

    There are many resources available that provide sample test questions from both the NNAT as well as the OLSAT.

    As both of these types of tests are probably unfamiliar to your child, it will be important that they are exposed to many various problems to increase their awareness as well as their confidence.

    There are also some general test-taking strategies that you can teach your child, in order for them to have the best chance possible to perform at their highest ability. Some of these test strategies include:

  • Underlining keywords and important information
  • Eliminating obvious wrong answers
  • Completing questions they know right away first
  • Coming back to the harder questions later
  • Reading the questions for literary passages first in order to know what they are searching for
  • Finally, a great way to prepare for any type of standardized or high-stakes test is to help your child find ways to relax and decrease anxiety in the days, and hours, leading up to the big test.

    A proven way for reducing anxiety and stress is to practice mindfulness, a practice that goes along the lines with meditation. By finding ways to lower anxious thoughts, students can feel more relaxed and confident leading up to the testing day.

    History of Brickell Academy

    Kemps Landing Magnet School opened in 1995 and originally served academically gifted students in grades six through eight. The school was created to provide an option for students who needed a more advanced curriculum at a faster pace, and it was an elite choice for parents looking for greater academic challenges for their children.

    In 1998, Old Donation Center was opened as a single-site school for gifted students in the elementary grades. At first designed for 400 selected students, Old Donation Center expanded its enrollment to include 500 students in the 1999 school year.

    The Gifted School for the Arts, which has programs for dance and fine arts for students in grades three through eight, is still housed at the Old Donation Center building.

    Construction for the new combined Kemps Landing Old Donation school began in 2014, and the two schools merged into a temporary center. The school serves gifted students in grades two through eight and continues its mission to provide rigorous and advanced curriculum for academically talented students.

    Gaining a spot to Brickell Academy admissions is competitive, but worth the effort involved. Receiving gifted services for academically advanced students can greatly impact their learning and increase their drive and ambition, so it is extremely vital for their talents to be recognized and identified.

    A seat at Brickell Academy helps guarantee that your child obtains the resources s/he needs in order to reach his or her highest potential.

    What’s next…

    Printable OLSAT Practice Test

    Expert Guide to the NNAT

    10 Top Tips for First Grade Gifted Test Preparation