JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Required Sixth Semester* Data

* Sixth semester is defined as the third semester prior to graduation, which is typically the end of a student's junior year (summer term not included).

Required Data
    High School Information
    Test Scores
    Class Rank and GPA
Exceptions Reporting
    Transfer Students
    Disqualification Codes
    Early Graduates
Methods to Submit Sixth Semester Data
    Option One: Batches (via Excel spreadsheets)
    Option Two: Online Process
SSP User Guides

Student test scores, unweighted Grade Point Average (GPA), class rank, and class size gathered during one academic year are data elements used to determine State Scholar Finalists for the following academic year. Test scores are gathered from the testing companies for the ACT and SAT exams taken during the student's third and fourth semester prior to graduation. ISAC requests the required sixth semester data* from high schools. Data can be sent electronically in one of two methods via the SSP system. An e-Message, which provides an overview of the delivery process, is sent to high schools in the spring to announce the start of the new SSP cycle.

Required Data

Schools are asked to submit the following required data for the entire class to ensure that the most comprehensive pool of students possible is considered during the SSP selection process, as well as to reduce the risk that a qualified student(s) is inadvertently omitted.  Be sure to provide the applicable disqualification codes for students who do not meet the eligibility criteria and any other Exception Reporting information that applies.

High School Profile Information

High schools must include the following information, regardless the method of transmission.

  • The high school’s six-digit ACT code
  • Class size at the end of the sixth semester
  • GPA scale (4.0, 5.0 or other) The GPA scale reported and the unweighted GPA calculated must be consistently applied for all students reported.

Test Scores

Test scores from the ACT and SAT exams taken between August 1 and June 30 (during the student’s third and fourth semester prior to graduation) are reported to ISAC by the testing organization. For students who have multiple scores, only the highest score will be used to determine SSP eligibility.

Class Rank and Grade Point Average (GPA)

As part of the State Scholar eligibility process, high school counselors must provide either the sixth semester* unweighted class rank (if the school ranks) or the unweighted GPA (if the school does not rank). Weighted ranks and GPAs cannot be accepted. Submit only sixth semester data. The unweighted GPAs reported must match the GPA scale that is submitted with the School Information (for example, if the school information indicates a GPA scale of "4.0," the school's sixth semester data should not include a record with the GPA listed as "4.3").

Class ranks are calculated by ISAC (for schools that do not rank) so that the class rank for the lowest GPA equals the total number of students being ranked. See the following sample of how ranking is assigned when more than one student has the same GPA.

Class Rank
1 99.3
2 98.9
2 98.9
4 98.1
5 97.9
5 97.9
7 97.4

The same procedures should be applied by schools that do rank.

Exceptions Reporting

Information regarding transfer students, disqualification codes or early graduates should be provided only if those exceptions apply. Instructions for exceptions reporting is included in the SSP User Guides.

Transfer Students

Provide transfer information ONLY when a student transfers out of the high school after the sixth semester.

Disqualification Codes

If a student is not eligible to be designated as an Illinois State Scholar, indicate the disqualification code in the appropriate fields in the Upload file if submitted using Option One or, if data is entered manually, using Option Two. The codes and the corresponding reasons for disqualification are as follows:

  • E – not a citizen or eligible non-citizen, and does not meet the “undocumented student” criteria of the RISE Act;
  • F – not a resident of Illinois as of June 30, 2023 (provide updated address);
  • H – not scheduled to graduate from high school by September 1, 2024;
  • I – already in college/already graduated high school (does not apply to early graduates);
  • J – not in the top half of the class; or
  • O – deceased.

Early Graduates

The majority of high school students graduate in four years at the end of their senior year. However, some students graduate early (for example, at the end of their junior year in 2023 rather than as a senior in 2024). For students who graduate early, the required academic data submitted should be based on the end of the student’s 4th semester, which would be the end of their sophomore year.

Methods to Submit Sixth Semester Data

High school counselors can choose from one of two electronic methods to submit their required sixth semester data for those students who are to be considered for designation as an Illinois State Scholar. Contact the School Services Department with questions.

First, a school must be registered to utilize the GAP Access portal. 

  • The high school principal must activate a GAP Access account as the Primary Administrator and establish the appropriate SSP access level for all impacted staff. Instructions for establishing access to SSP processing are found on the GAP Access page.
  • After reviewing the Activating Your GAP Access Primary Administrator user guide, high school principals can begin the process of creating and activating GAP Access accounts by going to the GAP Access Login page and then clicking on the "Not registered yet? Register here" link (which appears immediately below the "Login" button).
  • Two-factor authentication is required for both School User and Administrator accounts every time a user logs in to the GAP Access portal. Refer to the GAP Access Two-Factor Authentication User Guide for instructions.

The next step is to choose a method to transmit the sixth semester data to ISAC, either by uploading an Excel spreadsheet that follows formatting specifications prescribed by ISAC or by accessing the portal's SSP component and entering data online. Be sure that only sixth semester data is submitted regardless of the method used.

Option One: Batches (via Excel Spreadsheets)

The required sixth semester data can be submitted directly to the SSP system by uploading an Excel spreadsheet that is created using the formatting specifications prescribed in the SSP File Upload Template. The Excel spreadsheet must be created using the SSP Data Exchange Layout. A sample template is also available in the right-margin menu of this page or by selecting the Guidelines and Samples tab from the SSP: File Upload screen in GAP Access. Refer to the SSP File Upload User Guide to learn about how to upload the file, view when the file is validated and how to correct errors online or by uploading a corrected Excel spreadsheet.

  • When the Excel spreadsheet is ready to submit, log in to the GAP Access portal to access the SSP system, and then follow the on-screen prompts to upload your file to ISAC.
  • Once the file has been uploaded, the file validation process will begin.
    • The validation process will take several minutes (5 minutes minimum) so allow enough time and then click the “Refresh” button to check if the validation is complete.
    • After validation has competed, the file will have one of two statuses: “Validated” (no errors) or “Validation Errors Found” (with errors),
      • If the file status is “Validated” no further action is required.
      • If the file status is “Validation Errors Found,” the errors must be corrected before any students on the file can be considered for State scholar designation. Instructions for correcting errors are provided in the SSP File Upload User Guide.
    • Note that file validation is different from data processing. Validation verifies that all records in the file are complete (no missing fields) and formatted correctly. Schools are notified each year when the data processing cycle, during which State Scholars are named, begins.

Option Two: Online Process

Once made available each year (typically in the fall), Option Two allows high schools to submit the required sixth semester data online, via the SSP system.

  • Students who took either the ACT or SAT during the designated period (August 1 - June 30 of the student's junior year) will display on the Student List Eligibility screen.
  • Step-by-step instructions for using the SSP system, including sample screen prints, are provided via the SSP Online Processing User Guide (there is also a link to the document in the right-margin menu of this page).
  • An Illinois State Scholar Program (SSP) Sixth Semester Academic Information Request form must be completed and submitted by the high school for any student who should be considered for SSP designation but does not appear on the online SSP system. The form may also be used to notify ISAC of issues that require exceptions processing (i.e., if duplicate student records appear in the SSP system).
  • The GAP Access portal is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Data processing takes place each day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (CT). Data submitted after 10 p.m. will be processed and dated the following day (for example, sixth semester data submitted at 11 p.m. on Monday, July 17 would be processed and dated Tuesday, July 18). GAP Access can be experienced best using the Google Chrome browser.

SSP User Guides

Follow the instructions in the SSP User Guide for the method used to provide the required data.