Highly Capable

Access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education. -WAC 392-170

The Puyallup School District offers a continuum of services for highly capable students K-12. Please see School Board Regulation 2190R for a full description of services.

    Highly capable students are 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.
  1.  Students who are highly capable may possess, but are not limited to, these learning characteristics:
  2. Capacity to learn with unusual depth of understanding, to retain what has been learned, and to transfer learning to new situations;
  3. Capacity and willingness to deal with increasing levels of abstraction and complexity earlier than their chronological peers;
  4. Creative ability to make unusual connections among ideas and concepts;
  5. Ability to learn quickly in their area(s) of intellectual strength; and
  6. Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus. 


 Referrals are accepted based on data or evidence from teachers, other staff, parents, students, and members of the community. Referrers will use the district’s referral form to refer a student to be considered for admission in the program.



All second grade students will be screened in February using the CogAT pre screener. The top 12% will be invited back to test in the CogAT post screener for possible program placement. 



The district will obtain written parental permission prior to conducting assessments to determine eligibility for participation in its Highly Capable Program (HCP). 

Nominees identified for further testing through the screening process will be assessed using multiple objective criteria. The assessment process shall be based upon a review of each nominee’s capability as shown by multiple criteria, from a wide variety of sources and data, intended to reveal each nominee’s unique needs and capabilities.  All assessments must be administered by the Puyallup School District, or administered and certified by another school district. The assessment criterion consists of both qualitative and quantitative (the district may select one or both) instruments and may include the CoGAT 7, the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test, standardized state assessments, and district based common assessments / data. Students being screened for the secondary highly capable programs may have additional assessments which may include the Orleans-Hanna Algebra Prognosis Test and a writing assessment. 


A multi-disciplinary selection committee will review data that has been collected for each of the nominated students. The multi-disciplinary selection committee is composed of: A highly capable program teacher (provided that if a highly capable program 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 certificated coordinator or administrator with responsibility for the supervision of the district’s highly capable program; and additional professionals, if any, that the district deems desirable.


The multi-disciplinary selection committee will evaluate individual student assessment profile data using a blind (no name) process. The selection decision is based on:

  1. A preponderance of evidence from the profile data demonstrating that a student is among the most highly capable;
  2. Evidence of clear need for highly capable services; and
  3. Determination of which students would benefit the most from inclusion in the district’s program.


A single assessment score or indicator will not prevent a student’s selection for the HCP; however, individual pieces of evidence, if strong enough, can indicate that the student would benefit from services.  If properly validated tests are not available, the professional judgment of the qualified district personnel shall determine eligibility of the student based upon evidence of cognitive ability and/or academic achievement.


The multi-disciplinary selection committee will review all applications and make one of four determinations:

  1. (Qualified Placement) The student qualifies under the criteria of most highly capable and will be placed in program.
  2. (Provisional Placement) The committee is unable to make a determination based on a preponderance of the evidence.  The student may be offered, at the discretion of the multi-disciplinary committee, a provisional placement in the Highly Capable program. Provisional placements will be reviewed yearly by the multi-disciplinary selection committee.  Additional testing or data may be requested by the committee each year. Provisional students are not considered selected or identified for continuing placement within the program. QUEST / PAGE provisional students will not be provided transportation out of resident attendance areas
  3. (High Performance Placement) Students who have demonstrated high performance and consistently achieve above grade level, have strong task completion and embrace challenges but for whom the cognitive assessment data does not support qualification for the HCP. These students may benefit from and contribute to the unique learning environment of a QUEST, PAGE or accelerated classroom as space is available. Such placements will be reviewed yearly by the multi-disciplinary selection committee, and high performing students are not considered selected or identified for continuing placement within the program. QUEST / PAGE high performing students will not be provided transportation out of resident attendance areas.
  4. (No Placement) The student’s data does not qualify them for placement in the HCP program.


The district will:

  1. Notify parents of students who have been selected. Parents will receive a full explanation of the procedures for identification, an explanation of the appeal process, an explanation of the procedures to exit a student from the program, the information on the district’s program and the options that are available to identified students;
  2. Obtain parental permission to place identified students in the program before any special services and programs are provided to the student;
  3. Schedule a meeting of all such parents; and
  4. Conduct an annual parent meeting to review each student’s educational plan.



Process for Appeal


Parents/legal guardians have the right to appeal the Multi-Disciplinary Selection Committee’s decision. Individuals appealing the selection committee’s decision must submit a completed appeals form or letter requesting review of selection/placement decision. The written request must include reasons for the appeal and, to support reconsideration, provide additional evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels and/or outstanding intellectual, academic, or creative abilities.


Appeals must be based upon one of the following conditions:

  • A condition or circumstance believed to have caused a misinterpretation of the testing results. i.e., incorrect birthdate or grade level used in calculating the student’s score.
  • An inequitable application of the identification procedures. i.e., the applicant’s proficiency with the English language.
  • An extraordinary and temporary circumstance that negatively affected the validity of the test results. i.e., a traumatic event or physical distress immediately preceding the test.


The appeal request and supporting evidence must be submitted to the Puyallup School District, Office of Equity and Achievement, within ten (10) school days of the Multi-Disciplinary Selection Committee’s decision notification.

The district’s Appeals Committee will review the student’s file, assessment profile data, and additional evidence provided in the request for appeal. Appeals are reviewed by an Appeals Committee that consists of an Administrator, Psychologist, Principal, and Teacher. All submitted documents are closely and carefully reviewed. The Committee is looking for evidence that the results of the testing are not a true representation of the child's abilities. The decision of the


Appeals Committee may include:

  • Upholding the original decision of the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee.
  • Reversing the decision of the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee.


A decision will be made by the Appeals Committee within fifteen (15) school days after receipt of written request for reconsideration. The parent/legal guardian will be notified of the decision in writing.


The decision of the Appeals Committee is final.


Exit Process  

The exit process may be initiated for students who no longer demonstrate a need for highly capable program services. A request may be made by a teacher or program administrator for highly capable student identification and placement discontinuation. The Multi-Disciplinary Selection Committee will convene a meeting to review the student’s profile to determine if the student qualifies for program services based on assessment data and selection criteria. The multi-disciplinary selection committee may request additional evidence of student capabilities and/or willingness to participate in the program.  If the committee determines that the student no longer qualifies for highly capable program services, it may be recommended that the student be exited from the program. The parent will be notified in writing of the committee’s decision and of the appeal’s process.  

A parent/legal guardian may request that the student be withdrawn or request a furlough from the program or a student may voluntarily withdraw or request a furlough from the program.  A meeting will be convened by the Highly Capable Program Coordinator/Director to discuss the request. If the parent/legal guardian desires to withdraw the student from the program, the student will be exited or temporarily furloughed from the program. Furloughed students may reenter the program at the beginning of the following school year. The multi-disciplinary selection committee will determine if identification procedures are necessary for exited students wishing to reenter the program in the future.  


Program Design


The Puyallup School District offers a continuum of services for highly capable students K-12.  Once services are started, a continuum of services will be proved to identified students in grades K-12.  The district will keep on file a description of the educational programs provided for identified students.  The district reviews services yearly for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate. Post-secondary counseling and guidance specifically designed for identified highly capable students will also be provided.


Instructional Program


K-2:     Identified students will engage in a pull-out enrichment program where they will have the opportunity to work with intellectual peers in a rigorous environment of discovery and exploration.  The context of the enrichment will be literature and science, with an emphasis on vocabulary and the scientific process, with increasing complexity and practice in communicating the learning. The enrichment model allows for multi-age grouping and intellectual peer socialization.


Buildings may also accelerate identified highly capable students into upper grade classrooms as appropriate for reading and math.


Each elementary building will determine if they wish to use the cluster grouping model in which a group of highly capable students is clustered into a mixed ability classroom with a teacher who is trained to differentiate for highly capable students.  The cluster model is optional and a support to the enrichment and acceleration model.


3-6       QUEST is offered for identified highly capable students.  QUEST, which stands for Quality Experiences To Stimulate Thinking serves highly capable students in grades three through six at eight elementary sites in the Puyallup School District.  Regional QUEST classrooms are multi-age classrooms. Each of the host schools has a 3rd / 4th grade classroom and a 5th / 6th grade classroom.


The QUEST classroom features specialized curriculum and instruction for highly capable students. The self-contained QUEST classrooms are differentiated by an increased intellectual rigor, accelerated pacing, an expectation of early content mastery, greater depth and exploration of content with structured inquiry.  Students experience a two-year rotating curriculum designed for highly capable learners, which is at least one year above grade level.


7-9       Each junior high school offers highly capable programming via acceleration, clustering and counseling.  Honors and Pre-Advanced Placement coursework is offered in English/Language Arts, Social Studies and Mathematics.  Students may also accelerate based on demonstrated talents in the performing and visual arts.  Acceleration is recommended for any student who has met standard on the grade level state assessment.  The Honors and Pre-Advanced Placement program provides rigor and complexity beyond that which is expected in the regular classroom, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary curriculum and higher level thinking skills.


PAGE is the Puyallup School District’s cohort acceleration program housed at Kalles Junior High.  PAGE is a choice program open only to students identified for the highly capable program by the multidisciplinary selection committee.  This choice program for highly capable students and their families features a higher level of rigor, depth, breadth and acceleration within a cohort setting. English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science all feature curriculum compacting, curriculum acceleration, interdisciplinary curriculum and an emphasis on higher level thinking skills. In addition to the PAGE programming, students will have the opportunity to enroll in fitness and the arts within the Kalles program.


Each junior high school, including the PAGE program offers accelerated students the opportunity to take advanced mathematics classes, world languages and other appropriate coursework at the high school.  Limited transportation for students will be provided, contingent upon school bell schedules.  The number and type of courses open to accelerated students will be dependent upon the transportation schedule and the high school master schedule.

During the registration period each year, all secondary highly capable students will receive specialized counseling services related to acceleration and pathway options.


10-12  Each comprehensive high school offers highly capable programming via acceleration, clustering and counseling.  Dual credit coursework such as Advanced Placement, College in the High School, and other recognized rigorous programming is offered in multiple subject areas. Students may also accelerate based on demonstrated and assessed talents in the performing and visual arts.  Acceleration is recommended for any student who has met standard on the grade level state assessment. 


Running Start is an additional offering for students and families who desire options beyond the Puyallup School District’s High School Course of Study. Information is available in each high school’s counseling center.


Identified students will be assigned the appropriate CEDARS Gifted 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) which includes:

  • Number of students served by grade level K-12;
  • Student demographic information;
  • Data to determine if students who are highly capable met the goals set and if the programs provided met the academic needs of these students;
  • 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; and
  • Final fiscal report that reports on activities and staff funded by this program.



Gerald Denman
Chief Equity and Achievement Officer

Kelly Zimmerman
Administrative Assistant


253-840-8959 (fax)

Nancy Velazquez
Highly Capable Coordinator

302 2nd St SE
Puyallup, WA 98372