• Frequently Asked Questions

    • What does highly capable mean?

    The State of Washington defines highly capable students as possessing capacity to learn with unusual depth of understanding, to retain what has been learned, and to transfer learning to new situations. They have a capacity and willingness to deal with increasing levels of abstraction and complexity earlier than their chronological peers. They are able to learn very quickly in their area(s) of intellectual strength. Finally, highly capable students have a capacity of intense concentration and/or focus.        


    • How does the nomination process work?

    Referrals are permitted and accepted based on data or evidence from teachers, other staff, parents, students, and members of the community. Nominators will use the district’s nomination form to refer a student to be considered for admission in the program. Nominations for currently enrolled students (who the district has not tested in the previous two years) are accepted each spring, for the following school year.  Students enrolled in the district after the annual open enrollment period each spring, may be tested during the first few weeks of school.  After the September testing window, only students new to the district may be tested and admitted into the program in January.  Please see the Timeline Page for details and dates.


    • How do I get a recommendation form?

    Student recommendation forms will be made available at the district office and school front offices. Parents and members of the community will be able to submit these student recommendations to the district office and the highly capable program coordinator via in person, by mail, or by fax. You may also turn the recommendation forms in at your school front office.


    • What is the CogAT?

    The assessment that will be used is called the Cognitive Abilities Test or CogAT. This test measures students’ verbal, quantitative and nonverbal reasoning abilities. At the primary levels the test is entirely pictorial. Appropriate measures will be taken to ensure equal access for all nominated students. This assessment may be given in a group or individually at the school during the regular school day. This information may be shared with teachers, principals, and other appropriate school personnel. Written parental permission will be required of all students nominated to take the test before highly capable program testing can begin.


    • Which students will take the CogAT?

    Any student who is recommended for the program, whether by a teacher or a parent, will be assessed using the CogAT.

    • Are there any practice tests my students can use to study with?

    No, these assessments are not available to the public to preserve the reliability of the test. The idea is to determine the student’s natural cognitive ability. The best thing you can do for your child is to read with them, expose them to advanced vocabulary and encourage critical thinking. It is not the type of assessment you can study for. The test doesn’t indicate which students will have success in school but rather which students might benefit from additional enrichment.

    • What happens if my child is sick the day of testing?

    Steilacoom Historical School District will work to accommodate students who miss the regular testing dates due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or family emergencies.

    • After the assessment, who decides if my child is selected?

    Upon receiving the results of the CogAT, a multidisciplinary committee will meet to determine which students will be selected to participate in the program based on assessment performance, specific academic achievement, exceptional academic creativity, information from parents and teachers, and space availability.

    • How will I know if my child is selected for this program?

    All parents will receive written notification in the mail of whether or not their child was selected to participate in this program.

    • What if I want to appeal the decision made by the selection committee?

    Parents/legal guardians have the right to appeal the Multi-Disciplinary Selection Committee’s decision. Individuals appealing the selection committee’s decision must submit a  letter requesting review of selection/placement decision. The written request must include reasons for the appeal and to support reconsideration, provide additional evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels and/or outstanding intellectual, academic, or creative abilities. Click here for frequently asked questions regarding appeals.


    • Can I re-submit a recommendation form in the fall if my student didn’t get selected in this spring?

     No. Students can only be recommended once every two years.

    •  When will this pullout occur?

    The pullout will NOT occur during lunches or recesses. Exact times and locations to be determined.

    •  What is the curriculum for this program?

    The enrichment will be an extension of the material being studied in the classroom in both mathematics and science. There will be an emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking in these areas. Most of our district's Highly Capable Program curriculum is from the Center For Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary.


    • Where did the funds for this program come from?

    The funds for this program come from a grant. For more information please visit the OSPI website:OSPI Highly Capable Program Information