Elementary Highly Capable Students Program (HiCap)
Definition of Students who are Highly Capable
In Lake Stevens School District, our goal is to meet the unique needs of all students. We recognize that highly capable students perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared to others of their age, experience, or environments. Outstanding abilities are recognized within students’ general intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, and/or creative abilities. Highly capable students are present in kindergarten through 12th grade throughout our schools and throughout all demographic groups.
Although the learning needs of highly capable students are often met through differentiation of our regular education programs, in Lake Stevens we recognize the need to provide a K-12 continuum of special instructional opportunities for our most highly capable students. The students that might qualify as most highly capable are not defined by a set number, but typically this might be two to five percent of the general student population.
Learning Characteristics of Highly Capable Student
Highly capable students often possess the following learning characteristics:
- Capacity to learn with unusual depth of understanding, to retain what has been learned, and to transfer learning to new situations.
- Capacity and willingness to deal with increasing levels of abstraction and complexity earlier than their chronological peers.
- Creative ability to make unusual connections among ideas and concepts.
- Ability to learn quickly in their area(s) of intellectual strength.
- Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus.
Nomination Process for Highly Capable Students
Students can be referred to participate in our programs for the highly capable by parents, teachers, other staff, students, or members of the community. Parents, staff and the general public are notified of our nomination and identification process before any referral and testing window. This notification is published through school and district newsletters and the district’s website. In addition to English, the notification is circulated in Spanish and made available in other appropriate languages.
Assessment Process as Highly Capable Student
Parent/legal guardian permission must be obtained in writing before we conduct any assessments to determine eligibility or placement in the HiCap program. The parent permission notice includes:
a) A full explanation of the procedures for identification of a student for entrance into the HiCap program.
b) An explanation of the appeal’s process.
c) An explanation of the procedures to exit a student from the program.
d) Information on the district’s program and the options that will be available to identified students.
Students nominated for selection as a highly capable (HiCap) student will be screened prior to any formal assessment process. This screening process will include a review of recent student assessment data, grades and reports, and may include a short screening test. Students who, based on current evidence and data, clearly do not qualify for eligibility, may be removed from the selection process. Parents will be notified if this is the case. Students nominated for identification as a HiCap student, unless removed through screening, will be assessed using multiple objective criteria. The information gathered will then be reviewed by a Multidisciplinary Selection Committee who will identify the most highly qualified students for inclusion in our HiCap programs. The multiple criteria used for identification includes:
Current Academic Data - This may include classroom, district, and state test and assessment results, student grades and academic reports, and examples of student work.
Parent Inventory - A parent completed inventory of their student’s learning characteristics, motivational characteristics and creativity.
Teacher Inventory - An inventory completed by the student’s current teacher. This inventory will include the teachers rating and/or description of learning characteristics, motivational characteristics and creativity.
The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT, Form 7) - This test will be conducted by a teacher that has received training in the administration of the assessment. The Cognitive Abilities Test measures three separate cognitive domains to provide a perspective of a student’s reasoning abilities.
1) Verbal Tests – picture (verbal) analogies, picture (verbal) classification and sentence completion tasks
2) Non Verbal Tests – figure matrices, paper folding and figure classification tasks
3) Quantitative Tests – number analogies, number puzzles, and number series
Once all of the above criteria have been assembled, the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) will review the information and assessment data to determine the final selection of the most highly capable students. The MSC includes the following Lake Stevens School District professionals: a classroom or special teacher, counselor, principal, the Executive Director for the Highly Capable Program, the Executive Director for Assessment, additional professionals as needed.
Based on the data and assessment results for each nominated student, the MSC will use professional judgment to determine which students will benefit the most from inclusion in our HiCap program. Initially, students qualify as HiCap for mathematics or/and English language arts (reading and writing), although we seek to provide challenging, advanced, and enriching experiences for HiCap students in additional subject areas.
Parents of students identified as the most highly capable will be notified in writing before the student is placed in a HiCap program. Parents of nominated students that do not qualify for HiCap will also be notified in writing.
Parent/guardians have the right to appeal the decision of the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) by completing an appeals form. The written appeal request, along with the original data, will be reviewed by the committee. Additional testing or other information may be requested before making a decision. Parents will be informed in writing of the final decision. To request an appeal form, please contact the Highly Capable Students Office at 12309 22nd ST NE, Lake Stevens, WA 98258, or phone (425) 335-1500.
Exit Criteria and Process
Review of performance will be conducted for all students enrolled in our HiCap programs on a regular basis and at least annually. For students not meeting performance expectations, students and their parents/guardians will be notified by the classroom teacher. A written plan to support student success, including expectations for improved student performance, will be developed with parents and instructional and/or counseling staff. At the end of the semester, student performance will be reviewed. Should the student demonstrate improved HiCap performance expectations, he or she will continue in the HiCap program. Should the student fail to make improvements in the identified areas of the plan, parents will be notified that the student may be exited from the HiCap program. The Multidisciplinary Selection Committee will make all final decisions when exiting a student from the program and parents will be notified in writing.
Elementary Highly Capable Students Program
At the elementary level, identified HiCap students in kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade are provided differentiated instruction in the regular classroom. This includes accelerated learning, advanced instruction, and challenging content provided by the classroom teacher.
HiCap students in grades 3, 4, and 5 are clustered in one classroom at each grade level and in each school. Depending on the total number of students that qualify for the program, each cluster typically has five to eight students. In some situations, HiCap students may be clustered in a multi-age classroom (3-4 or 4-5). Cluster grouping is an organizational structure in which all of the HiCap students in a grade level are assigned to one teacher rather than being dispersed among every classroom at that grade level. Clustered students are grouped with students that have a range of academic abilities, but regrouped as a cluster within the same classroom for accelerated and enriched instruction in areas where their skills are at much higher levels. This arrangement allows for continuity of instruction and an opportunity for clustered students to interact with their grade level peers as well as with a group of other HiCap students. Accelerated learning, advanced curriculum, and additional HiCap activities provide an enriching and challenging instructional experience for HiCap students in these grades.
If I have a question, who should I contact? For any questions regarding our highly capable program, please contact:
Linda Mauer, Highly Capable Program Coordinator, K-12