State and Federal Programs » Highly Capable Program

Highly Capable Program


Zillah School District


Highly Capable Program



Program Descriptions, Referral Form,


& Parent Permission



Highly Capable Student Definition

As defined in WAC 392-170-035, 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 according to chapters 28A.640 and 28A.642 RCW.  

As defined in WAC 392-170-036, the term learning characteristics means that students who are highly capable may possess, but are not limited to, these 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; and Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus.


Program Descriptions

Beginning with school year (2014-2015), a new law passed by the Washington Legislature requiring all school districts to identify their "most highly capable" students and provide a continuum of services to those students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. The new law also includes specific language for districts around identifying their "most highly capable" students. Children who demonstrate exceptional ability, exceed grade level standards in literacy and/or math, demonstrate exceptional creativity, and possess strong motivation to excel are good candidates for the Zillah School District’s Highly Capable Program.

As a result of this new legislation, the ZSD Highly Capable Program has been completely redesigned and will be fully implemented starting in the 2014-15 school year.   The ZSD Highly Capable Program will provide an educational experience for K-12 students that will meet the needs of students who have exceptional ability by offering challenging and enriching learning experiences that may include the following; differentiated instruction, flexible grouping, curriculum compacting, and enrichment.  

The ZSD Highly Capable Program will offer the following learning opportunities:

Kindergarten-Grades 5: Highly Capable students will be provided instruction in an accelerated and enhanced instructional design using flexible grouping or curriculum compacting. Highly Capable students will also receive differentiated instruction, enrichment opportunities, as well as other program services.

Grades 6-8: In addition to the menu of option listed in grade K-5, Highly Capable students in grades 6-8 will be provided learning opportunities using accelerated and enhanced instructional design and advanced course placement.  

Grades 9-12: In addition to the menu of option listed in grade K-5 and 6-8, Highly Capable students in high school will be provided learning opportunities using accelerated and enhanced instructional design and advanced course placement.


Annual Public Notification

The Zillah School District will notify parents and students before any major identification activity. Notices will be published on the district website and by other district communication methods that are used to widely communicate to parents across the district. Information will also be made available in every building in the district and translated in languages spoken by the communities whose students attend Zillah schools.


Referral Timeline

The referral timeline begins with the start of the school year with an open enrollment period that will conclude December 1 with screening, assessment and selection to follow.


Referral Process

Anyone may refer a student for testing for the highly capable program. Referrals can
come from parents, teachers, school specialists, friends, family, community members, or even the student them self. Referral forms are available below
 and in each school building main office.


Parent Referral Forms and Permissions

All parents (if not the originator of the referral form) must complete a referral form and give permission for the student to be tested and potentially placed in highly capable programs. Referral forms are available below and in each school building main office.


Teacher Referrals & Feedback Forms

Teachers complete a Teacher Referral & Feedback Form for every one of their students that have been referred for testing. These are available in the school office. Teacher Feedback Forms are then made available to the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee during the screening, assessment and selection processes.


Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC)

As outlined in WAC 392-170-070, the Highly Capable Committee will include a classroom teacher, a psychologist, certificated coordinator/administrator, and possibly other appointed district personnel. The multidisciplinary selection committee reviews all the data collected through the screening and assessment process.


Screening Process

The screening process is the first process in determining if the referred student is among the “most highly capable”. These students will demonstrate exceptional ability, exceed grade level standards in literacy and/or math and possess a strong motivation to excel. These students will be considered good candidates for the HC Program. The district will begin screening referred student’s after December 1. The multi-disciplinary selection committee must meet and review Academic Achievement Test Scores from State and/or District Benchmark Assessments in Reading and Math for each student referral.

Grades 3-11: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) students must score at or above grade level in ELA and math.

Grades K-8: easyCBM students must score at or above grade level in ELA and math.


Assessments & Selection Process

To qualify for the highly capable program, the following assessments are used:

Cognitive Assessment-Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV)-Measures a child’s intellectual ability. Norms are Scaled Scores by age, Index Scores, and Full-Scale IQ. Student work on the WISC-IV assessments often takes multiple weeks to be scored. Once a student has qualified for highly capable programs, they do not need to test again. If parents have any questions about placement, they are directed to call the school office at (509) 829-5911.

Creativity Assessment-The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) - is an instrument used for identification of the creatively gifted.

The Multidisciplinary Selection Committee trained in the interpretation of assessment results is convened to review the above mentioned data and make final selection decisions.

Parents will be notified via mail if their student has been selected for Highly Capable Program enrollment.


Retesting & Appeals

Students may re-test given the following conditions: If it has been over 9 months since the student was last tested and the student is enrolled in at least one grade level higher than when they were last tested. Appeals are considered annually for students who did not meet the criteria. The Multi- disciplinary selection committee will examine provided evidence of high ability and need for program placement. The deadline for appeals is 15 school days after the sending of the placement notification letter. Only testing done by Zillah School District will be considered by the committee. A decision will be made by the multi-disciplinary selection committee within 10 days after receipt of written request for reconsideration. The parent/legal guardian will be notified in writing of the selection committee’s decision.


Transfer Students

Students who transfer in from out-of-district and have qualified in that district’s highly capable program are not automatically enrolled.   Test scores and placement letters from the other district may be used as long as they meet our placement criteria. A fall testing opportunity for transferring in students will be available for students who come new to the district at the start of the school year. Students who qualify for highly capable programs in the Zillah School District are placed pending room and availability.


Notice of Non-Discrimination/Title IX

The Zillah School District complies with all federal and state rules and regulations and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or disability. This holds true for all students who are interested in participating in educational programs and/or extracurricular activities. Inquiries regarding compliance and/or grievance procedures may be directed to the school district’s Title IX/RCW 28A.260/504/ADA compliance officer. 


Web Links for Parents

National Assoc. for Gifted Children - Information for Parents & Educators


Washington Assoc. of Educators of the Talented & Gifted - WA state organization which supports the education of gifted and talented students.


OSPI - Highly Capable Program Information


RCW - Revised Code of Washington - Law that governs the Washington State Highly Capable Program


WAC - Washington Administrative Code - Provides guidance for development and delivery of highly capable program services.