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Highly Capable/Explorer Program


Today’s Classroom, Tomorrow’s World


Highly Capable Program Recommendation Committee

Program Information

Washington State law 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.

Walla Walla School District's Highly Capable Program provides students of high academic and intellectual ability with designated time to explore concepts in greater depth.  The goal of the Highly Capable Program is to encourage the development of higher level thinking skills. Students learn to become responsible for their own learning, develop their creative thinking and critical reasoning power, and strive to reach their potential.

Referral Period set for Nov. 28, 2016 - Jan. 6, 2017

 The referral deadline is January 6, 2017 to avoid assessment schedule conflicts that typically occur in late February and early March. All referred students will be screened using norm-referenced standardized tests and teacher/classroom assessments and recommendations. Those who qualify for further testing will participate in cognitive abilities testing at their home schools.   In all cases, parents will be notified of the results of the process, and a child not selected one year may be referred again in subsequent years.

Referral forms will be available in all district schools and on the district website no later than November 28, 2016. Parents will be able to contact their child's teacher or school learning specialist/counselor for more information.

Walla Walla School District Highly Capable Program Services focus on two domains: 1) general intellectual growth and exploration and 2) specific academic content areas. The specific academic focus areas are Mathematics, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies.

Highly Capable students are currently offered the following services, although programming is currently under review and updated information for 2017-18 and beyond will be available in early June:

Students in kindergarten through second grade, identified as Highly Capable, are served through the Response to Intervention (RtI) model in their home schools. The elementary principal or designee will work with classroom teachers to provide appropriate accelerated/enhanced learning opportunities. K-2 classroom/program options could include, but not be limited to: alternative activities, enrichment activities, flexible group learning, independent projects, advanced lessons, online or supplemental instruction.

For grades three through five, Highly Capable students can be served by Explorers, a pull-out program focusing on enriched Science and Mathematics academic experiences. Students may also be served under the RtI model at their home schools.

The middle school Highly Capable Services focus on the subject areas of English, Language Arts and Social Studies. Middle school services are incorporated into the school day through specific classes. Students are involved in inquiry- based lessons, group problem-solving settings, independent investigations and group discussions. Middle school Highly Capable students have an opportunity to take different levels of mathematics classes, based on their ability, test scores and recommendations from teachers. This same opportunity is extended to all students in grades six through eight at both middle schools.

Students previously identified as Highly Capable and transitioning to ninth grade will meet with high school counselors (or principal’s designee) for the purpose of course selection and access to advanced instruction. Teachers of high school Highly Capable students will know who has been identified and will be provided with professional development and/or instructional suggestions through the high school RtI team.   Services for high school students can include, but are not limited to, honors or Advanced Placement classes, Running Start, independent study or online classes.

For more information, please contact the Walla Walla School District Teaching and Learning office: 526-6735.

Nomination/Referral Forms

English Nomination Packet

Spanish Nomination Packet


Highly Capable Learner Characteristics

Gifted children have a definite set of characteristics. You may see some of these in your child:

• Learns new material faster, and at an earlier age, than peers.
• Remembers what has been learned, often making review unnecessary.
• Is able to deal with concepts that are too complex and abstract for age peers.
• Has a passionate interest in one or more topics; would spend all available time learning about that topic if s/he could.
• Does not need to watch the teacher to hear what is being said; can process more than one task at a time.
• Is very intense. Gets totally absorbed in activities and thoughts; may be reluctant to move from one subject area to another; may insist on mastering one thing before starting another. May experience periods of such fierce concentration that he is literally unaware of what is going on around him.
• Prefers complex and challenging tasks to “basic” or “busy” work. May change simple tasks or directions to more complex ones to keep interested.
• Has many, and sometimes unusual, interests, hobbies, and collections. May have a passionate interest, such as dinosaurs, that has lasted for many years.


Parent Organization:


More Information


Explorer Teachers (Grade 3 through 8 program)

School Name Phone Email
Grade 3-5 Program Mary Cortinas 526-1706 mcortinas@wwps.org
Garrison Middle School Beth Clearman 527-3040 bclearman@wwps.org
Pioneer Middle School Megan Blair Cabasco and Stephanie Kytola 527-3050






WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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