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Highly Capable/Explorer Program


Today’s Classroom, Tomorrow’s World


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 for 2017-18 will end on March 2, 2018

Information on Highly Capable Referrals and Testing will be available online and in schools in December 2017.

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:

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 housed at Sharpstein Elementary School. Students may also be served under the RtI model at their home schools.

The middle school Highly Capable Services for English, Language Arts and Social Studies 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.

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 (being updated for 2018)

Spanish Nomination Packet (being updated for 2018)


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.


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

Agnes Wooters





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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