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:

(1) Capacity to learn with unusual depth of understanding, to retain what has been learned, and to transfer learning to new situations;

(2) Capacity and willingness to deal with increasing levels of abstraction and complexity earlier than their chronological peers;

(3) Creative ability to make unusual connections among ideas and concepts;

(4) Ability to learn quickly in their area(s) of intellectual strength; and

(5) Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus.

Program Descriptions

Beginning in 2014-2015, a law was passed by the Washington Legislature requires that all school districts 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 Union Gap School District’s Highly Capable Program.

As a result of this legislation, the UGSD Highly Capable Program has been completely redesigned and was fully implemented starting in 2014-15. The UGSD Highly Capable Program will provide an educational experience for K-8 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 UGSD Highly Capable Program will offer the following learning opportunities:

  • Kindergarten-Grades 6 - 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 as well as enrichment opportunities.

  • Grades 7-8 - In addition to the menu of option listed in grade K-6 Highly Capable students in middle school will be provided learning opportunities using accelerated and enhanced instructional design and advanced math placement.

Program Goals

The Highly Capable program goals are as follows:

Meet the needs of the all HCP students registered at Union Gap School through the methods listed in the program description

To increase HCP student’s achievement in local, state, and national assessments

To provide professional development to all Union Gap teachers on how to meet the needs of HCP students in the general education classroom on a yearly basis or as needed

All HCP students will be monitored for growth through local, state, and national assessments

Program Student Identification

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

Ability test scores:

  • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

    • Tests in Verbal, Quantitative, and Non-Verbal

      • Qualifying students earn a composite score at the 95th percentile or higher based on age scores.

For more information about the CogAT test go to: http://www.riversidepublishing.com/products/cogAt/details.html#tests

Achievement test scores:

  • Grades K-2:

    • DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Skills): Students must score at benchmark level.

    • District Benchmark Assessments: Students must score at benchmark level.

  • Grades 3-8:

    • Smarter Balanced Assessment: Qualifying students must have met standard or exceeded standard on this state test.

    • District Benchmark Assessments: Students must score at benchmark level.


  • Grades K-8

    • Creativity is assessed through both teacher and parent referral and feedback forms

A multidisciplinary selection committee consisting of a teacher(s), district administrator, and psychologist/other qualified practitioner trained in the interpretation of assessment results is convened to review the above mentioned data and make final selection decisions.

Program Evaluation

The Multi-Disciplinary team will meet annually on the last Monday that school is in session. The purpose of this meeting will be threefold; to determine the effectiveness of the identification process and begin screening for next year, to assess if the program is meeting the academic needs of the HCP students, and to review program expenditures. The program goals and student achievement outcomes will be measured by academic growth in the Smarter Balanced Assessment, STAR/SRI/MAPS/DIBELS assessments, and district level benchmark assessments