Highly Capable services

Contact

Highly Capable services office (curriculum and instruction department)

highlycapableservices@vansd.org

P: 360-313-1360

F: 360-313-1021

Mailing address: P.O. Box 8937, Vancouver, WA 98661-8937

Physical address: 2901 Falk Rd., Vancouver, WA 98661

Highly Capable services provide a continuum of accelerated learning services to identified students in grades K–12 who are performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, environment and experience.

Services provide depth and complexity of instruction in the core content areas of English language arts, social studies, science and math. Highly Capable services are different at various grade levels.

Accelerated learning opportunities may include:

• Differentiated instruction in the elementary general education or self-contained classrooms

• Honors courses at the middle school and high school levels

• Opportunities for middle school students to begin working on high school graduation requirements

• Dual credit options at the high school level such as Advanced Placement courses, College in the High School and Running Start are offered for students to begin earning college credit while in high school

Vancouver Public Schools maintains a commitment to grow and diversify Highly Capable services through ongoing program evaluation and revision. Program revisions are focused on breaking down barriers for underrepresented and underserved students who demonstrate advanced potential when compared with others of their age, experience or environment.

Who is a highly capable student?

Per WAC 392-170-035, highly capable students are defined as those 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 the student’s 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.

As outlined in WAC 392-170-036, 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 areas of intellectual strength

• Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus

Goals for students identified as Highly Capable learners include:

• Expanding and deepening intellectual skills by pressing for high-level mastery of Washington State Learning Standards

• Development of critical and creative thinking processes

• Development of the ability to understand and work through complex tasks

• Analysis, synthesis and communication of information that is more complicated in meaning

• Engagement in goal setting specific to a student’s own intellectual, social and emotional learning

• Development of collaboration and lifelong learning skills

• Development of leadership skills and growth mindset

Curriculum

All instructional curricular resources are aligned with the current Washington State Learning Standards. In addition, where appropriate, students use research techniques to acquire information and present findings, conclusions and/or solutions in areas of their interest. Selected core and supplementary materials are used at all grade levels. Instructional practices emphasize:

• Deep and wide focus of learning

• Critical and creative thinking processes

• Real-world applications of learning

• Collaborative learning and effective decision-making

• Stimulation of intellectual curiosity, independence and responsibility

• Goal setting and reflection

• Responsible citizenship

• Interpersonal communication skills

Program service options

Differentiated instruction is incorporated into all service options listed below. Differentiation is an approach to teaching in which teachers modify instructional methods, curriculum resources, activities, and assignments in the classroom. This approach to instruction enables teachers to better address the learning needs of individual and/or small groups of students. To meet learning needs, teachers may differentiate by modifying the content (what is being taught), the process (how it is taught) and the product (how students demonstrate their learning).

Elementary school

Kindergarten through grade two:  Students demonstrating a high cognitive potential will receive differentiated instruction to promote their continuous academic growth in kindergarten through second grade. These services are provided by the general education classroom teacher at the student’s neighborhood school.

Grades three through five:  Identified Highly Capable students in third through fifth grades are currently served through two program service options. In both options students receive differentiated instruction designed to accelerate, enhance and enrich learning.

Option 1: Differentiated instruction in the general education classroom
In this service option, students remain at their neighborhood school and receive differentiated instruction in the general education classroom.  There may be other students in the general education classroom who are also identified as Highly Capable. This model allows the student to receive instruction designed to meet their needs while participating with other students within their neighborhood school community.

Option 2: Self-contained classroom at a designated elementary site
In this service option, students attend one of two designated elementary sites to receive differentiated instruction in a self-contained classroom.  This model allows the student to receive instruction designed to meet their learning needs while participating in a classroom where all students have been identified as Highly Capable. This service option is on a space-available basis.

Per current school board procedure (P2190), if your child is receiving instruction at an elementary self-contained classroom site AND the site is NOT your neighborhood school, parents are responsible for transportation to and from school.  If circumstances would prevent parents from transporting their child to a self-contained classroom, they may contact the school principal to discuss transportation options.

Middle school

Highly Capable students in sixth through eighth grades attend their neighborhood middle school and take honors-level English/language arts and humanities courses. These courses embed critical thinking and analysis of abstract concepts to help prepare students to take more rigorous coursework during their high school years.

Students who meet course placement criteria may also take advanced and accelerated mathematics and science courses and have opportunities to begin earning high school credit in mathematics, world language and science. High school classes taken in middle school are automatically added to the high school transcript. Students/families may choose to remove them or change the grade to pass/fail.

High school

For high schoolers, Highly Capable options mean continuing their High School and Beyond Plan. Counselors and teachers work with students and their families to develop their high school course plan to align with their future goals. Students can take advantage of options for advanced coursework that give both high school graduation credit and the potential for earning college credit at the same time. School counselors provide students information on the following programs:

• Advanced Placement

• International Baccalaureate

• College in the High School

• Running Start

State-required assessments, district assessments and behavioral characteristics surveys are evaluation tools that may be used to determine a student’s need for Highly Capable services.

Each year, district benchmark assessment scores will be analyzed during the winter trimester for kindergarten through fifth-grade students. The purpose of this analysis is to find out which students demonstrate a need for a more in-depth portfolio review, possibly resulting in an identification of the student as Highly Capable.

During the portfolio review, a multi-disciplinary committee (MDC) analyzes individual student performance data consisting of both quantitative and qualitative information.

The MDC will use the district’s Highly Capable services protocol along with the following considerations when identifying students for Highly Capable services:

1. A variety of current and past data from the student portfolio demonstrating that a student is among the most highly capable when compared with others of their age, experience or environments.

2. Evidence of a clear need for Highly Capable services.

3. A single assessment score will not prevent a student from being identified as needing Highly Capable services.

For students in which additional evidence is needed, beyond the data in the student portfolio, a behavioral characteristics survey will be completed by the classroom teacher and the parent/guardian.

Prior to the in-depth portfolio review, a letter of notification will be sent to the student’s parent or legal guardian. The parent or legal guardian may choose to opt their child out of the portfolio review process by contacting the Highly Capable office.

Once the portfolio process is complete, parents/guardians will receive a result letter by mail. Students ultimately identified as needing Highly Capable services through the portfolio review process will begin receiving services the following school year.

Middle school

Students identified as Highly Capable during their elementary school years, and who meet course placement criteria, will be placed in advanced courses in middle school by teachers, counselors and administrators through a process called “forecasting.”

The forecasting process first occurs during the winter trimester prior to students entering middle school and is similar to the portfolio review process at the elementary level. Teachers, counselors and administrators from the sending elementary school and receiving middle school collaborate and review individual student data in order to design each student’s program of study.

The individual student data under review consists of prior coursework completed and multiple pieces of state and district academic performance data over time. This information provides an overall indication of the level of the student’s academic preparedness for advanced coursework.

In addition, students not previously identified as Highly Capable can also be placed in advanced courses in middle school by teachers, counselors and administrators through the forecasting process.

High school 

Students in eighth through 11th grades work with teachers, counselors, administrators and their parents at each individual building to forecast for advanced coursework opportunities to align with their High School and Beyond Plan for the following school year. Participation in advanced coursework is based on specific placement criteria, prior coursework and multiple pieces of a student’s state and district academic performance data over time.  This information provides an overall indication of the level of academic preparedness for advanced coursework.

The following information outlines who is eligible to participate in the portfolio review process for Highly Capable services.

Students who are currently enrolled in a school within VPS district boundaries and reside within VPS district boundaries, unless parent or guardian opts out, may receive a portfolio review for Highly Capable services during the district’s designated window.

• Students who are currently enrolled in a VPS school on a boundary exception and reside outside of VPS boundaries, unless parent or guardian opts out, may receive a portfolio review for Highly Capable services during the district’s designated window.

• Students who currently live within VPS boundaries but do not attend a VPS school are not eligible for a portfolio review for Highly Capable services. If applicable, these students may submit a referral form during the district’s designated window, providing additional evidence of significantly advanced academic performance.

• Students who reside outside of the VPS boundaries and do not attend VPS on a boundary exception are not eligible for a portfolio review for Highly Capable services. If applicable, these students may be reviewed and identified by transferring into Vancouver Public Schools.

Students not identified through the portfolio review may submit a referral form during the district’s designated window providing additional evidence of significantly advanced academic performance.

Parents/legal guardians have the right to appeal the multi-disciplinary committee’s (MDC) decision. Parents/guardians appealing the decision must submit a letter requesting a review. The written request must include specific reasons for the appeal and, to support reconsideration, provide additional documented evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels.

The appeal request and supporting evidence must be submitted to the Highly Capable services office within 10 days of receiving notice that the student has been determined not in need of services. The appeal request shall be mailed to:

Vancouver Public Schools
Highly Capable services
P.O. Box 8937
Vancouver, WA  98668-8937

Appeals are reviewed by the MDC, which is comprised of a classroom teacher with training and experience in teaching highly capable students, a psychologist or other qualified practitioner with 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 any additional professionals whom the district deems appropriate.

The MDC will review all available student performance data over time and additional evidence provided in the request for the appeal.

The decision of the MDC will include one of the following recommendations:

• Identification of the student as Highly Capable and eligible for Highly Capable services

• Not eligible for Highly Capable services at this time

Parents/guardians will be notified in writing as soon as possible, but no longer than 30 school days after receipt of the written request for reconsideration.  The decision of the MDC is the final review.

Generally, parents do not need to submit a completed referral form to have their child reviewed for Highly Capable services. However, referral forms are available for:

• Newly enrolled students in kindergarten through fifth grade who started school after the district-wide winter screening assessment

• Students in kindergarten through fifth grade not identified through the portfolio review process may submit a referral form during the district’s designated window. Additional evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels should be included with the appeal.

Referral forms are available from March 1 through May 1 each school year. Referrals received after May 1 will be included in the portfolio review process the following school year.

Vancouver Public Schools may identify a student as highly capable who has transferred from another district in which they were identified to receive Highly Capable services.

The student’s parent/legal guardian will need to provide the Highly Capable services office with the following documentation from the student’s former school district before a determination is made regarding specific program services for the student:

1. Description of the Highly Capable services and placement criteria

2. Student data that identified the student to receive Highly Capable services

3. Documentation of the student’s enrollment in a Highly Capable program

4. Student’s state and district’s academic performance data demonstrating advanced levels

District-initiated exit process
The exit process may be initiated by district staff to determine whether a student continues to benefit from Highly Capable services. District staff will follow the Highly Capable services office protocol for discontinuation of Highly Capable services.

Parent request to withdraw
A parent/legal guardian may request that the student be withdrawn from receiving Highly Capable services.

Dates to know

Related

Frequently asked questions

Differentiated instruction can be defined as a way of teaching in which teachers anticipate and respond to a variety of student needs in the classroom. To meet students’ needs, teachers may differentiate by modifying the content (what is being taught), the process (how it is taught) and the product (how students demonstrate their learning).

Differentiated instruction in the general education classrooms will be designed by the classroom teacher to accelerate and enrich the content taught (English language arts, math, etc.) based on the needs of the individual student. The teacher will pre-assess students to determine their skill level and needs before they dive into teaching particular content areas. In a differentiated classroom, the teacher is constantly doing quick, formative assessments to determine the ongoing needs of the student and where the instruction might be modified, if necessary, in order to ensure student learning is happening.

Highly Capable self-contained classrooms are composed of students who have all met the criteria to receive Highly Capable services. These self-contained classrooms are placed at designated elementary school sites. The curricular resources used in self-contained classrooms for English language arts, math, social studies and science are the same resources used in the general education classrooms. The instructions, pacing and depth of the content may be different depending on the skills the students demonstrate.

Teachers in these classrooms differentiate instruction by modifying the content (what is being taught), the process (how it is taught) and the product (how students demonstrate their learning). This service option is on a space-available basis.

The teacher in the general education classroom provides differentiated instruction to identified Highly Capable students that is designed to accelerate and enrich the content taught based on the skill level and instructional needs of the individual student. These teachers also differentiate instruction to students who have not been identified as needing Highly Capable services. The application will look different depending on the student’s needs. This model allows the student to receive services while participating with other students within their neighborhood school community.

The concept of “differentiation” in and of itself allows for students to have their needs met, regardless of what their needs are. Children are different and often their needs are different as well. Students identified as Highly Capable, who are participating in a general education classroom, will generally have some modifications in the content, process or product of their learning that could look different from what other students are doing.

Any school site, a team of teachers at a specific grade level or a classroom teacher may choose to group students together for instructional purposes in a given content area based on similar needs. Each school site will make determinations of how they will meet the needs of students. While the school sites have district support in making these determinations if needed, the determinations are not district-directed.

Your child’s classroom teacher will be the person responsible for meeting their instructional needs in the classroom based on the student’s skill level and needs within the content area being taught (English language arts, math, etc.).

The ways in which students might receive differentiated instruction will vary depending on the needs of an individual student, the school sites and/or the classroom teacher. There could be a situation where a student receives all of their instruction in the classroom with their teacher through a variety of whole group, small group and individual instruction. Another situation might be that a student receives reading or math instruction from a different teacher and the rest of their instructional day in their homeroom class. Or there could be an entirely different situation! It really depends on the instructional practices being used at the building level.

Parents/guardians of students in need of Highly Capable services communicate their preference for whether they would like their child to participate in a self-contained Highly Capable classroom or have their child remain at their neighborhood school and receive services.

It is important to know that if parents/guardians prefer the self-contained service option and their child is placed in the self-contained classroom, their child will no longer be able to participate in a language learning program.

Parents/guardians still have the option of having their child remain in a language learning program and receive services through differentiated instruction. Their child’s teacher for next year will be notified that the student is in need of Highly Capable services. The teacher will differentiate the target language (Spanish or Mandarin) and English instruction based on the needs of the student.

If your child is placed in a school that has Highly Capable self-contained classrooms, you will need to complete boundary exception paperwork for that specific school site.

Once the district has received all parent preference forms, we will have a better idea of how many families prefer the Highly Capable self-contained classroom option. Elementary schools will then be “assigned” to the school sites with the Highly Capable self-contained classrooms.

Highly Capable self-contained classrooms operate on the same daily school schedule as the general education classrooms at the same school site. The school day begins at 8:30 and ends at 2:50. Class sizes in Highly Capable self-contained classrooms operate under the same VEA contractual class size as general education classrooms do (24 students in grades K-3 and 27 students in grades 4-5).

Self-contained classroom to the neighborhood school
Parents/guardians have the option to, at any time, decline placement in a Highly Capable self-contained classroom and have their child attend their neighborhood school and receive differentiated instruction in a general education classroom.

Neighborhood school to a self-contained classroom
Parents/guardians have the option, at any time, to request placement in a self-contained classroom. Self-contained classrooms in grades 3-5 are located at Eisenhower and Truman elementary schools. This option is based on available space at the designated self-contained elementary school. It is the parent’s responsibility to communicate their change of preference to the Highly Capable services office.

If your child is receiving differentiated instruction at their neighborhood school, your child can access the school bus to and from school.

If your child is receiving instruction at an elementary self-contained classroom site AND the site is your neighborhood school, your child can access the school bus to and from school.

If your child is receiving instruction at an elementary self-contained classroom site AND the site is NOT your neighborhood school, parents are responsible for transportation to and from school. If circumstances would prevent parents from transporting their child to a self-contained setting, they may contact the school principal to discuss transportation options.

Yes. Students in these classrooms have the same opportunities in music, dance, art and PE as students in general education classrooms.

In high schools, the options increase. There is a wider variety of classes and levels of classes. Advanced Placement becomes an option, as does Running Start at Clark College and College in the High School at Columbia River, Fort Vancouver, Hudson’s Bay and Skyview high schools. Students are leveled in a number of subjects from math to world languages to band, depending on prerequisites and prior instruction. Generally, all of these options are open to all students. Highly Capable services do not have a bearing on what classes students can take.

Questions and/or concerns regarding things that occur during the school day should go to your student’s teacher or the building administrator.

For questions about Highly Capable services, assessment or other program information, you may contact the Highly Capable services office.