About Highly Capable Services

​​​Tacoma Public Schools works every day to develop the special abilities of each student. Our Highly Capable services are designed to meet the needs of gifted students at all grade levels and are available across the district.

Mission: To maximize the social, emotional, and cognitive development of all highly capable students within Tacoma Public Schools.

Vision: To address the needs of the diverse populations of our community, enhance the education of the whole child through challenging and relevant instructional best practices, and support and improve the skills of students with highly capable characteristics and needs.

Elemen​​tary Services (Grades K-5)​

Kindergarten to second grade: Differentiated instruction will take place in the student's current classroom. The student will stay in his or her class yet still receive instruction to meet the needs.

Third Grade to Fifth Grade: Starting in third grade students may be serviced in one of several ways. Generally students follow the same curriculum as their peers but at a faster pace with advanced level projects layered into their studies. Highly capable classroom structures can vary from school to school. Principals and teachers have the flexibility to adapt learning environments based on their students needs and enrollment.

Teacher_FirstDay.jpgGATE (Gifted and Talented Education) All 35 elementary schools have GATE services for grades three, four, and five. However, the instructional model varies from school to school. Principals and teachers determine the best structure based on student needs and enrollment. Some schools blend GATE students in grades three through five into a multi-age class where students may have the same teacher for up to three years. Other schools choose to keep GATE students with their grade level, providing differentiated instruction in the general classroom.

Teacher_FirstDay.jpgSAIL (Self-contained Advanced Individual Learning), is a self contained class for the top students district-wide in grades three, four, and five. The curriculum is compacted, allowing for in-depth extensions and creative expression. SAIL classrooms are differentiated from traditional classrooms by the intellectual rigor, accelerated pace, autonomous learning, greater depth and breadth of content, and structured inquiry.

Currently SAIL classes are located at Jefferson, Mann, and Browns Point Elementary Schools. Transportation is provided to participating students if needed.  

Middle School Services (Grades 6-8)


Tacoma Public Schools provides a continuum of services for highly capable students. However, students at the middle school level do not need to be officially selected as highly capable to take advantage of accelerated courses. Clustered in electives, we encourage students identified as highly capable to take accelerated courses. However, parents and students make the scheduling choice. Referrals for highly capable can be made at any time.

High Scho​ol Programs (Grades 9-12)

Teacher_FirstDay.jpgWe believe every student can reach his or her potential and can be successful. That’s why the district is automatically enrolling qualified high school students into advanced programs or courses in high school. Tacoma Public Schools offers a variety of advanced courses for high schools students that not only challenge them but prepare them for college and career. 
Find out more about our advanced programs.