The Blaine School District seeks to create an environment that can support the continuous growth and development of each and every learner. Growth requires opportunities to stretch; to reach beyond one’s current level of development in any given context. In pursuit of this principle, we offer a Highly Capable Program - REACH - to help meet the unique needs of students whose exceptional levels of talent or giftedness indicate a need for work that is accelerated and/or that incorporates even greater levels of depth and complexity than the rich core instructional program we seek to provide all students.
We are working to support this through a variety of facilitative structures, including cluster grouping, opportunities for compacting and acceleration, extensions of depth and complexity, advanced placement, project-based learning, independent study opportunities and mentoring relationships.
We are working to ensure that the staff charged with meeting the needs of highly capable learners has the necessary resources and training to meet the unique needs of this population.
DEFINITION OF HIGHLY CAPABLE STUDENTS
(Washington Administrative Code 392-170-035)
Highly capable students are students 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 students’ 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.
Common characteristics of highly capable learners:
(Washington Administrative Code 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 area(s) of intellectual strength;
- Capacity for intense concentration and/or focus” in an area of interest."
REFERRAL AND SCREENING
Referrals for the Highly Capable Program may be made by a teacher, through the Teacher
Survey of Gifted Characteristics. Parents/guardians and other community members may also make referrals using the attached form. Students may also self-nominate.
Additional data that may be used to scan for possible candidates might include state and building assessments, language acquisition data, portfolios or work samples, and information pertaining to IEPs or 504 plans.
If a student is found to be a candidate for testing or further evaluation, parents will be sent a permission to test form that must be returned in order for the student to test. Usually, this would be the Cognitive Abilities test (CogAT) which helps assess “general intellectual aptitudes” and certain “specific academic abilities”.
A Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) consisting of, at minimum, the building principal, a special teacher (WAC 392-170-070), the Director of the Highly Capable Program, and a school psychologist or other personnel with the training to interpret cognitive and achievement test results will consider whether there is sufficient evidence of a need for enhanced and accelerated instruction in order to support exceptional “intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, or creative productivities within a specific domain.”
Such evidence will be drawn from multiple criteria and may include superior scores on the CogAT, significantly advanced scores on state assessments, surveys of gifted characteristics and other evidence demonstrating exceptional cognitive or creative abilities or potential.
Parents will be notified if a student is identified as needing highly capable services. Parents will also receive a copy of the student’s scores for any test(s) administered.
If a student is identified as needing highly capable services, the parent must return the signed Permission to Participate form that will be sent home. Once a student enters the Highly Capable Program at the Blaine School District, they will continue in the Program until Graduation, unless the parent, student or District requests withdrawal.
Parents may appeal if they feel their student should have been screened and/or selected for the Highly Capable Program. This appeal must be in writing and sent to Randy Elsbree, Director Federal and Special Programs, Executive Director Highly Capable Program, 770 Mitchell St., Blaine, WA 98230.
HIGHLY CAPABLE PROGRAMS AT THE BLAINE SCHOOL DISTRICT
PRIMARY SCHOOL - Services will include access to challenging curriculum facilitated through in class cluster groups and challenge folders. Students also receive pull-out services weekly and have the opportunity to participate in one field trip a year.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - Services will include access to challenging curriculum facilitated through the use of daily “differentiation time” blocks for literacy. In addition, REACH students meet weekly during pull-out time for passion projects. Semester 1 passion projects will center around historical figures and events, culminating in a Historical Fair & Wax Museum in January. The semester 2 passion projects will focus on science and end with a Science Fair in May. Fourth and fifth grade students in REACH may also participate in Math Champs, which compete in the Whatcom County Math Competition and, sometimes, State. REACH offers special monthly activities including field trips, local resources, and/or special guest speakers. Additional enrichment programs may be offered after school, dependent on volunteers.
MIDDLE SCHOOL - Services could include accelerated placements, cluster classrooms, ability groupings, and extracurricular enrichment opportunities such as Math Champs, mentoring programs, and special interest clubs.
HIGH SCHOOL - Services include Advanced Placement and College in the Classroom course opportunities, accelerated placements, targeted Advisory (BUILD) groups, and extracurricular opportunities such as Knowledge Bowl, Math Champs and Chess Club.