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Highly Capable

Please click here for the link for Highly Capable referrals


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 the screener in 2nd grade.

Grades 2-5: Students testing high in all areas will qualify 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 Minter Creek 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: Highly capable students will be able to continue in a self-contained Language Arts (LA)/Social Studies (SS) block class at Kopachuck and Key Peninsula Middle Schools in 6th grade. Highly capable students will be clustered in Language Arts (LA)/Social Studies (SS) at Goodman Middle School and Harbor Ridge Middle School. Highly capable and high achieving students are selected for the Advanced ELA program will receive an accelerated pathway for ELA in grades 7th-9th.

Math placement is based on multiple data measures putting students into one of three paths: (1) On level, (2) single, or (3) double accelerated program in middle school.

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.

Continuum of Highly Capable Services


More Highly Capable Information

Highly Capable Program Identification Timeline

Timeline 2019-20


Universal Screening in 2nd grade classrooms

October-November 2019

Highly Capable Testing Referral Window:

November 4, 2019 - January 15, 2020

Parents, school staff, and community members may refer students to participate in the district’s annual Cognitive Abilities test.

 Please click here for the link for Highly Capable referrals 


Annual Highly Capable Testing for referred students in grades 1-8:

Grade 1 & 2
Date: February 3rd - February 28th, 2020
CogAT testing will take place at student’s school

Grade 3-8
Date: February 29th, 2020

Purdy Elementary School
13815 62nd Ave NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98332
8:40 am-12:15 pm


Multidisciplinary Team Identification:

Highly Capable Multi-Disciplinary Teams (district and school teams) conduct qualification process to review test results and other supporting documentation to make recommendations for Highly Capable services for 2018-19 programs.

Parents notified of committee recommendations for Highly Capable services and provided copies of score reports from annual testing - (late March/early April)


Open Houses to visit PACE programs and learn more about AIR/AIM for parents occur

Decisions on program options due back to school district - (late April)

August 2020

Testing for students new to the area and/or new to public school:

Date and Location: TBD

Highly Capable Resources




Reference Books/Articles:


Distance Learning/Enrichment Programs:

Highly Capable Identification Process

Peninsula School District seeks to identify those students who may benefit from participating in the district’s Highly Capable Program. Assessments used for identification for the Highly Capable Program include the Cognitive Abilities Test full battery, measures in core subjects, and referral information.

Highly Capable students are those who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments – typically 3-5% of the population. A multi-disciplinary team comprised of teachers, principals, school psychologist, and district administrators meet to make placement decisions in the spring for the following school year, using a wide range of data.

Who may refer students for highly capable testing?

Anyone may refer a student once annually for testing (Cognitive Abilities full battery test) in grades 1-8 for determining highly capable qualification for the following school year. Referrals may come from parents, teachers, school specialists, friends, family community members, or even the student him/herself. 


Selection of students for our Highly Capable programs occurs in the spring for placement the following school year. See Timeline here. Test results from the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) will be sent home after the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meets in late winter/early spring.

Appeals:  Students who do not qualify for the Highly Capable program have the right to submit an appeal. An appeals form (available below) must be filed within two weeks of receipt of your child’s results. Appeals are reviewed by the district’s Multidisciplinary Team and parents will be notified of the decision.

Please submit appeals to:  Peninsula School District, Attn: Joy Giovanini, 14015 62nd Ave NW, Gig Harbor WA, 98332


Re-testing: Students may re-test annually through the referral process given the following conditions:

  1. It has been over 9 months since the student last tested, and
  2. The student is enrolled in at least one grade level higher than when they last tested.

Transfer Students

Students who transfer to PSD from out-of-district schools and have qualified in a previous highly capable program are not automatically enrolled in our program. Test scores and placement letters from the other school may be used but still must meet our placement criteria. Please contact the district Highly Capable office at (253) 530-1059 if you have a student transferring to PSD who was previously qualified outside our district to find out what information is needed to review the student’s qualification status. If the required testing data is not available from the previous school, a summer (August) testing opportunity will be available for students who are new to Peninsula School District over the summer or arrive too late to participate in spring testing.