Highly Capable FAQ

What is Highly Capable?

The Washington state legislature 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 students' 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…”  WAC392-170-035

Some characteristics of highly capable students include:

  • 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 focus.

See a more extensive list of characteristics on the website of the National Association for Gifted Children.

How are highly capable students identified?

Tacoma Public Schools uses several methods to identify students who are eligible for Highly Capable services.

Universal Screening – Each year Tacoma Public Schools provides cognitive testing for all second-grade students. We use the results of that screening along with state and local assessments and other data points to identify student who may be eligible for Highly Capable services.

Referral – Parents, teachers, other staff, students, or community members may refer a student using the online referral form.

Transfer in – If a student who has been identified as gifted or highly capable in another district transfers into Tacoma Public Schools, that student is eligible for services in TPS. Other students who transfer in can request screening.

All students considered for highly capable services are reviewed by the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MDSC) before they are offered services. The MDSC looks at the test scores from the screening, academic achievement, information provided by teachers and others, and other pertinent data to make a decision.

Is the curriculum different for highly capable students?
Highly capable students use the same curriculum as other students. However, they will typically learn at a much faster rate and go more in depth than other students.