Programs » Highly Capable Services

Highly Capable Services


Riverside School District is committed to identifying and providing for the intellectual,  social, and emotional needs of our highly capable students by providing meaningful and challenging educational experiences and preparing them academically for college and career readiness.

Program Goals

Identified highly capable students will receive accelerated and enhanced learning opportunities to advance academic achievement and growth through a menu of options. Services will be designed to address the unique learning needs of each student and therefore, may vary from one student to the next.

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


According to Washington state law, gifted education is part of basic education. This means that every day in the general education classroom is the most important place for gifted education. Just like all the other students, highly capable children should be appropriately challenged and show growth. The students’ needs will be met with challenging and enriching learning experiences through differentiated instruction in the classroom. Services will be designed to address the unique learning needs of each student and therefore, may vary from one student to the next. Additionally, third through sixth grade students will attend the S.O.A.R. Program (pull-out enrichment classes) weekly.

Annual Notification

Annual public notification of parents and students shall be made before any major identification activity in multiple ways including our district website, highly capable website, and school newsletters. 

Timeline of Referrals and Testing

  • September - Full-battery CogAT for new students who have been referred (1st grade and up). 
  • October - Full-battery CogAT for any kindergarten students who have been referred. Gifted Advisory Board meets to look at CogAT scores, referrals, other test scores, etc. to determine which students qualify.
  • January & February - Referral window open. Annual notifications will go in school newsletters and on school websites.
  • March - All 2nd graders take the CogAT Screener
  • April and May - Full-battery CogAT for any 2nd graders who scored 85th percentile or above on the screener and for students K-11 who were referred in January or February, during the referral window.
  • May - Gifted Advisory Board meets to look at CogAT scores, referrals, other test scores, etc. to determine which students qualify for the following school year.

New/Transfer Students 

Out-of-district transfer students that have qualified in that district’s highly capable program are not automatically enrolled. Test scores and placement letters from the other district may be used as long as they meet our placement criteria. Students may need to re-test in Riverside. New students or transfer students need to be processed for identification within three months of enrollment.
The Riverside School District utilizes both achievement (SBAs and MAP) and ability testing results in determining eligibility for the S.O.A.R. Program.

Deciphering the Difference Between the Two

Achievement and ability tests both measure aptitude, learning and achievement to some degree. Achievement tests, such as the SBAs, are heavily dependent on formal learning acquired in school or at home. They do not measure, however, how a student thinks or what his or her potential is. If a student does well on an achievement test, it shows that he or she is learning what he or she is supposed to be learning in school.
Ability tests are more novel and complex. They are predictors of potential for academic success. Ability tests tap into a wider range of life experiences and look at whether students can apply what they know in new and different ways. Ability tests often work with designs and pictures. They usually challenge the test taker to mentally manipulate symbols, numbers and the written language. Ability testing examines innate learning rather than school-based learning.

Reasons Achievement and Ability Scores May Not Correspond

  • Child is highly motivated to succeed in school
  • Child is allowed as much time as needed on state and district achievement tests, but ability tests are timed
  • Child is unfamiliar with the kinds of questions being asked on ability tests
  • Child is a perfectionist
  • Child has enriched home and family environment
  • Child is underachieving in school but demonstrates high ability

Ability Test Administered for Highly Capable Eligibility

Test Name



Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
Verbal reasoning section: 
T1 Verbal Classification 
T2 Sentence Completion
T3 Verbal Analogies
Quantitative reasoning section:
T1 Quantitative Relations
T2 Number Series
T3 Equation Building

Non-verbal reasoning section:
T1 Figure Classification
T2 Figure Analogies
T3 Figure Analysis
The three subtests in each section are combined to get one percentile score for the Verbal section, one for the Quantitative section, and one for the Non-verbal section. All nine subtests can also be combined to get a test composite score.

Understanding Your Child's Percentile Score(s)

National percentile ranks, which range from 1 to 99, are commonly used for reporting test results. A percentile ranks an individual's position in relation to a hypothetical group of 100 students in the standardization group. If a child scores at the 75th percentile, he or she is scoring better than 75 out of every 100 students at the same grade level that take the same test.

Percentile Score

Performance Level

Percentage of Students Across the US

96-99 Highest Level 4%
90-95 High Level 7%
78-89 Well above average 12%
60-77 Slightly above average 17%
41-59 Average 20%
23-40 Slightly below average 17%
11-22 Well below average 12%
5-10 Low level 7%
1-4% Lowest level 4%

Process for Nomination, Screening, and Selection

The nomination, screening and selection processes are applied to all grades K-12 students accepted for Riverside School District Highly Capable services, including the S.O.A.R. Program. Multiple criteria for eligibility into the program will be consistent, fair, and equitable. The selection process is consistent with WAC 180-40-215 (1) prohibiting unlawful discrimination.
  • All second graders take the Cognitive Abilities Screening Test (CogAT Screener) in March.  Parents may opt their child out of testing, if they choose. The opt-out form is sent home with all second graders prior to testing. 
  • Nominations of students are permitted from any source, including staff, students, parents and community members. Nomination forms are available at the elementary, middle school, high school, and district offices and online. Fill out the the nomination form and return it to the school secretary during the January/February referral window.
  • Parental permission must be obtained in writing before any assessments to determine eligibility are conducted.
  • Screening procedures will be applied equitably and systematically to all nominated students. The final ranking system will provide and equal opportunity to include students whose scores may not have been available.
  • Screening procedures may eliminate students from whom there exists clear, current evidence that the student will not qualify for eligibility.
  • The Multi-Disciplinary Team reviews all the screening data and determines which students are to continue the eligibility process.
  • State, district-wide and curriculum-based assessment data will be utilized in the selection process. The Cognitive Abilities Screening and Testing tools will also be used.
  • The Multi-Disciplinary Team reviews all data and, using state guidelines, makes the final selection for participation into the highly capable program. If properly validated, tests are not available, the professional judgment of the qualified district personnel shall determine student eligibility based upon other evidence of cognitive ability, academic achievement and exceptional creativity. This will be documented in writing.
  • A continuum of services will be provided through grade twelve.

Qualification for Highly Capable Services

  • Both verbal and quantitative CogAT scores, or
  • CogAT composite score, or
  • SBA scores.

Parent Notification of Eligibility

Letters of eligibility/ineligibility along with student scores are mailed home.

Highly Capable Appeal Procedure

Parents may appeal the decision of the Multi-Disciplinary Team to the Riverside Superintendent within 10 days of the receipt of the notification letter of denial of services. Parents will be requested to put in writing the factors they wish the Superintendent to consider.


Students may retest given the following conditions:
  • It has been over 9 months since the student last tested, and
  • The student is enrolled in at least one grade level higher than when they last tested.