Policy Details Page

Regulation 2190R

Highly Capable Services 
Washington State Administrative code (WAC 392-170-035) defines Highly Capable students as students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. Outstanding abilities are seen within student's general intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, and/or creative productivities within a specific domain. These students are present not only in the general populace but are present within all protected classes. 
Students who are highly capable may possess, but are not limited to, these learning characteristics per WAC 392-170-036: 

  1. Capacity to learn with unusual depth of understanding, to retain what has been learned, and to transfer learning to new situations. 
  2. Capacity and willingness to deal with increasing levels of abstraction and complexity earlier than their chronological peers.
  3. Creative ability to make unusual connections among ideas and concepts. 
  4. Ability to learn quickly in their area(s) of intellectual strength.  
  5. Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus. 

The following procedures will be employed to refer, screen, assess, and identify students for Highly Capable services. The process for identifying highly capable students will prioritize equitable identification of low-income students and reflecting the diversity of the district. 
Annual public notification will be made before any major assessment activity.  Notification will be sent to families via, US mail, robocall, school messenger and posted in schools and on the public website.

The District provides universal screening of all currently enrolled 2nd and 5th grade students to determine eligibility for Highly Capable services within Tacoma Public Schools.  Screening may include the administration of a cognitive abilities assessment such as the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT3). 

The District will notify families prior to conducting screenings to determine eligibility for Highly Capable services with the option to opt out of screening.  

Screening will be administered in the native language of the student. If native language screening is not available, the District must use a nonverbal screener.  

Early Entrance to Kindergarten Screening
A child must be five years of age as of midnight, August 31 of the year of entry to be entitled to enter kindergarten in Tacoma Public Schools (Policy 3110/3110R Admission and Qualifications of Attendance).  

Tacoma Public schools provides Early Entrance to Kindergarten screening for students who will turn 5years old between September 1st and October 31st and who reside in Tacoma Public School boundaries.   The screening process measures the skills and ability required for the student to succeed in earlier entry. Screening may include the administration of a developmental assessment such as the Developmental Indicators for Assessment of Learning 4 (DIAL-4).
Students who qualify are admitted for a 30-day trial period. Determination of final placement into kindergarten is the decision of the school principal and the kindergarten teacher.  
Students can be referred by their parent/guardian, teachers, other school staff, community members, or through self-referral to be assessed for Highly Capable services. Referrals can be submitted using the District’s online referral form on the public website. For any grade levels that universal screening of all students is administered, referrals are not necessary.

Students who are identified through universal screening or referral will be assessed for Highly Capable services.

Students will be assessed using:
a)  Multiple criteria will be used and may include a cognitive assessment, qualitative and quantitative data, iReady scores, ELPA21, SBA and other District and state assessments (as applicable).  No single criterion may disqualify a student from identification. 
(b)    Consideration of criteria benchmarked on local norms, but local norms may not be used as a more restrictive criterion than national norms at the same percentile. 
(c)    Subjective measures such as teacher recommendations or report card grades may not be used to screen out a student from assessment.  These data points may be used alongside other criteria during selection to support identification but may not be used to disqualify a student from being identified.   

The Multi-Disciplinary Identification Committee (MIC) will review the above assessment data to determine eligibility for Highly Capable services. 

The MIC is composed of: a special teacher as defined in the WAC  (provided that if a special teacher is not available, a classroom teacher shall be appointed); a psychologist or other qualified practitioner with the training to interpret cognitive and achievement test results; a certified coordinator or administrator with the responsibility for the supervision of the District’s  highly capable program; and additional professionals, if any, that the District deems appropriate. 

The identification decision is based on: 

  1. A preponderance of evidence from the assessment data demonstrating that a student is highly capable; If data is not available, students could become eligible after two data points have been generated.
  2. A students demonstrated ability to benefit from specialized services and exposure to specifically designed instruction that cultivates inclusive learning opportunities.

When the assessment and identification process is complete the Highly Capable office will notify parents/guardians by US mail of the student’s eligibility or non-eligibility for Highly Capable services. The letter may include information on identification, services that are available to identified students, the option to exit a student from the program, information on the referral process, and information on the referral and appeal process. 
Parental/guardian permission is required to place identified students in the program and to provide services.
Instructional & Program Fidelity 
Students in Tacoma Public schools have the right to a quality learning experience. To provide the appropriate level of rigor for Tacoma Public School students, teachers undergo training and have access to both teacher and student resources to support student learning.  
Each advanced program offered in Tacoma Public Schools strongly emphasizes critical thinking skills, cross-disciplinary approaches, and emphasis on multiple perspectives through accompanying texts and lessons. Therefore, educators teaching advanced courses should be proficient in culturally responsive teaching practices, model inclusive and equitable classroom practices, and allow for high student engagement, inquiry, collaboration, and student discourse. 
Components of Culturally Responsive Teaching or Culturally Relevant Teaching are not strategies or programs but a set of teaching principles. Culturally responsive teachers do the following:  
1.    Foster a growth mindset within themselves and their students. 
2.    Recognize and understand their own cultural beliefs and biases.  
3.    Realize the need to develop relational capacity with their students.  
4.    Create a learning environment that is safe, supportive, and respectful. 
5.    Maintain high expectations for all students. 
6.    Embrace the importance of equity in meeting the needs of students.  
7.    Provide support through scaffolding and differentiation. 
8.    Bridge connections between home, school, and community. 
9.    Consistently evaluate their teaching practices and adopt a willingness to change approach to address student learning using formative assessment data.  
10.    Foster learning courage and provide effective feedback when students make mistakes. 

Teachers use assessment data to create and monitor specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, inclusive, equitable goals and facilitate the goal-setting process with their students. For example, teachers set goals for each unit of study, using embedded formative assessment tools to monitor conceptual understanding, increasing the level of achievement from pre- to post-assessments.  

Program Services 
Per Washington State Administrative code (WAC 392-170-078), each student identified for Highly Capable services shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account each student's unique needs and capabilities. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Recognizing the limits of the resources provided by the state and the program options available to the District. The District periodically reviews services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.

Services may include a combination of one or more of the following classroom-based instructional methods.
•    Cluster Grouping*
•    Curriculum Compacting
•    Differentiated Instruction
•    Enrichment 
•    Flexible Grouping
•    Independent Projects
•    Content Acceleration

*Cluster Grouping is one of the most common ways to provide services for students within the general education classroom. Clustering is a practice that places a group of Highly Capable students with other high achieving students in a classroom and with a teacher who has received training or who is willing to differentiate curriculum and instruction for the identified cluster students Including a combination of one or more of the following methods listed above.

Other acceleration options are available at the secondary level.

Process for Appeal 
Parents/legal guardians have the right to appeal the MIC’s decision. Appeals can be submitted by US mail or email using the District’s online Appeal form on the public website.  Appeals must be submitted within 15 school days of the date of the eligibility/non-eligibility decision letter.

 There are three circumstances in which an appeal can be considered: 
1.    The student has a 504 Plan and/or IEP that has test accommodations and were not provided during the screener. 
2.    An extraordinary circumstance occurred that may have negatively affected the validity of the test results. 
3.    Screener score does not accurately reflect the student’s achievement or ability based on alternative cognitive and/or achievement assessments completed outside of Tacoma Public Schools and was not included in the initial assessment.

The District’s Appeals Committee will review the student's file, assessment data, and any additional evidence provided in the appeal and will send a response letter to the parents/legal guardians within 30 school days of receiving the appeal. The decision of the Appeal committee is final. 

Review and Change of Placement
The process for review and change of placement may be initiated by a building team, building administrator, or program administrator for students not demonstrating successful response to intervention in the highly capable program based on classroom performance. Prior to any decision to change the student’s placement, parents will be notified and provided an opportunity to meet with the District administrator of the program and the building team to discuss the student’s performance and possible change of placement. 

Exit Process 
A parent/legal guardian may request that a student be withdrawn from receiving services or a student of legal age may voluntarily withdraw from the program. A meeting will be offered to discuss the request. However, if the parent/legal guardian desires to withdraw the student from receiving services, the request will be honored. 

Identified highly capable students will be assigned the appropriate Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Comprehensive Education Data and Research System (CEDARS) Highly Capable value(s) in the District’s student information system for end-of-year reporting activities.   

The Superintendent or designee will provide an end-of-the-year report to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) consistent with the legal requirements in WAC 392-170. The District’s end of year report may include: 
•    Number of students served by grade level K-12. 
•    Student demographic information.
•    Number and content of professional development activities provided for special teachers and general education staff.
•    Program evaluation data and, if needed, program changes that will be made based upon this information.

Approval Date 4/23/2015
Revised Date: 2/26/2019, 3/05/2024

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