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Highly Capable

Summer Referrals for Highly Capable Testing Now Open for 2024-2025 School Year.

We are excited to announce that summer referrals for Highly Capable Testing are now open for parents and educators. The referral period will run through August 1, 2024, for the 2024-2025 school year.

Summer 2024 Highly Capable Referral Form

Testing date options are included in the form.


The mission of the Peninsula School District’s Highly Capable program is to nurture highly capable students’ unique academic skills and social-emotional development, offering strong support for productive struggle within a positive, collaborative, and resilient environment, challenging students with rich, complex learning tasks and activities as well as multiple opportunities to explore interests and see themselves as lifelong learners.

Background and Definitions:

Although there are a wide range of faces and varying profiles for Highly Capable students, there are some common characteristics associated with Giftedness/Highly Capable identified students.  The National Association for Gifted Children notes that students with gifts and talents perform - or have the capability to perform - at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience, and environment in one or more domains. They require modification(s) to their educational experience(s) to learn and realize their potential. 

NAGCs dig deeper into traits here.

The Davidson Institute lists the following

Common Characteristics of Gifted Children:

  • Ability to comprehend material several grade levels above their age peers 
  • Surprising emotional depth and sensitivity at a young age 
  • Strong sense of curiosity 
  • Enthusiastic about unique interests and topics  
  • Quirky or mature sense of humor 
  • Creative problem solving and imaginative expression 
  • Absorbs information quickly with few repetitions needed 
  • Self-aware, socially aware, and aware of global issues 


Peninsula School District seeks to optimize learning for each student through rigorous, engaging, and varied opportunities.

PSD recognizes that the needs of students identified as highly capable are not always met through the general K-12 program. Highly Capable students need specific instruction and services to meet their academic, intellectual, and social needs. They thrive in settings that offer accelerated academic achievement, divergent and creative thinking, and varied opportunities to challenge themselves and each other intellectually.

The Highly Capable Program in PSD provides a continuum of services to identified highly capable students to meet their individual and collective needs.


  1. Identify and promote the growth of highly capable students
  2. Provide academic acceleration and enrichment to meet the special needs of highly capable students
  3. Foster creativity and inquiry in academic and non-academic domains
  4. Provide guidance and assistance in social and emotional development of highly capable students
  5. Adapt the program to address the changing needs of students as they are identified and served

Highly Capable Program

Kindergarten-Grade 1: Students in Kindergarten and 1st grade will receive differentiation and critical thinking opportunities in their classrooms. Teachers are provided additional training opportunities in the unique needs and characteristics of highly capable students in the early grades. Teachers also lead picture book based enrichment projects for K/1 students which are especially geared toward highly capable students but are beneficial for all. Students may be referred for the full CogAT Highly Capable test in the late fall of 1st grade or wait for testing in later grades.

Grades 2-5: Students testing high in all areas will be identified through the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) process for Peninsula Accelerated Classroom Enrichment (PACE), the self-contained 2/3 and 4/5 classes at Voyager, Discovery, and Purdy elementary schools. Transportation is provided.

Students demonstrating highly capable aptitudes in one area but not all will be served in neighborhood schools in subject specific programs, Accelerated in Math (AIM) or Accelerated in Reading (AIR). These programs consist of clusters of students with teachers who have been involved in Highly Capable training. The instruction varies based on the student's ability and on the subject matter but the teacher implements strategies and materials for highly capable populations when appropriate. The clustering option is also available for PACE qualified students who choose not to participate in PACE.

Grades 6-8: In 6th grade students who are identified as Highly Capable in Reading will be served in an Advanced ELA class where the cohort of 6th grade teachers between the schools will enhance the district curriculum and vary the pacing to meet the needs of the HC students. 

Participation in the 7th and 8th grade Advanced ELA pathway offered at all four middle schools is a separate process from highly capable identification.  The Advanced ELA pathway is accessible for highly capable identified students and high achieving students ready for the rigor of the course and this selection is done at the middle schools before 7th grade.

For mathematics, all students are placed into math courses according to their readiness for acceleration based on multiple measures of data and teacher input by a district committee.  The team looks at a range of factors including test scores, school data, and teacher input.  Highly Capable identification in math is a factor considered but not the whole picture as we want to make sure we are keeping students challenged without creating unnecessary holes in their understanding.  

Grades 9-12: Students in high school may take advantage of AP, College in the High School, Running Start, and advanced course options at different grade levels in a variety of subjects at the high school. See high school course catalogs for more information.


More Highly Capable Information