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Highly Capable Program

Community Meeting   October 27, 2014 from 6:00pm - 7:00pm at Jason Lee Middle School Auditorium
Please join us for the informational community meeting for Highly Capable Programs that will be held Monday, October 27th, 2014 from 6:00pm-7:00pm at the Jason Lee Middle School Auditorium.  This meeting will focus on current research based best practices within the Tacoma Public Schools Highly Capable Programs.  This meeting will also provide the district context for the Tacoma Public Schools Gifted Enhancement Plan.
Professional Learning Community - Highly Capable Meeting October 28th 4:00pm-5:30pm Central Administration Boardroom
This workshop is open to all Tacoma Public School Staff and current teacher candidates during their senior year of college who desire to learn more about highly capable learners and the Tacoma Public School System.  The focus topic will be Formative Assessment (Criterion 6) for Highly Capable Learners within the 5D+ Teacher Indicator Framework.
Student Display at Central Administration Building Third Floor
Tacoma Public School students currently in Highly Capable programs within Tacoma Public Schools created products for the Washington Association of Educators for the Talented and Gifted (WAE-TAG) conference that was held October 16 and 17 at Hotel Murano in Tacoma.  These student products are on display on the third floor of the Central Adminstration Building until November 7, 2014.
Careers with Tacoma Public Schools in Highly Capable Programs
There are currently two teacher openings within the Highly Capable Programs at Tacoma Public Schools.  Please refer to the CAREERS section of the Tacoma Public Schools website for specific information and application procedures.
WAE-TAG Conference 2014
The 2014 Washington Association of Educators for the Talented and Gifted was held October 16 and 17 at Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Wa.  The theme of the conference was "Beyond the Stereotypes".  Twenty-three staff from Tacoma Public Schools attended the conference and gained valuable information regarding highly capable learners.  Dr. Sandy Wentworth (Instructional Facilitator -Highly Capable Programs, Tacoma Public Schools) presented a break-out session at the conference titled , Mutiple Assessments for the Identification of Highly Capable Learners. 
Highly Capable Program Enhancement Plan
Tacoma Public Schools has embarked on the expansion and enhancement of the Highly Capable Program based on new state Washington Administrative Code’s (WAC’s) and a program audit conducted.
Expansion of the TPS Highly Capable Program:
Changes to the TPS Highly Capable Program have been prompted by new state WACs and a 2010 Tacoma School District audit conducted by D. Carolyn Callahan, a gifted education professor at the University of Virginia.  The changes will create:
(1)     A more inclusive learning environment at all elementary schools;
(2)     Enhanced program offerings at middle school and high school; and
(3)     Expanded referral and assessment processes that will grow and diversify the program. 
This will allow students from across Tacoma to have high quality services in their neighborhood schools.
In the 2012-2013 school year, Tacoma offered nine full-time highly capable classes at six elementary schools for 234 students.  Our goal is to exponentially increase highly capable program offerings to enhance the social-emotional and academic supports for our students.
Program change
New processes for outreach and referrals that identify student readiness for high-level coursework through a new district acceleration policy adopted by the school board in 2012-13.
More students have access to high-level classes, which creates more diverse and blended learning environments.
In Place 2013
New highly capable NNAT2 nonverbal test * that assesses abilities rather than strictly academics.
Focuses on problem solving and higher order thinking skills and complements existing academic information.
In place 2013
Expanded Parent Advisory Team to become a Community Advisory Team representative of TPS  community demographics.
Diverse team advises on program vision, changes and expansion.
In place 2013
Intensive training for teachers, counselors and administrators on highly capable best practices district-wide.
Every school will have teachers who will maximize the academic, social, emotional and mental development of highly capable students.
Training has started and will continue through the transition years
Connect a continuum of services K-12 including highly Capable classes at every elementary school and enhanced offerings at middle and high schools to include teachers trained to work with highly capable students.
Allows all qualified students to take classes that meet their individual needs at their neighborhood school.
Phasing in beginning 2014
*Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test* – Second Edition (NNAT2)
Children who demonstrate exceptional ability, exceed grade level standards in literacy and math (or have the potential to do so if challenged and supported,) demonstrate exceptional creativity, and possess strong motivation to excel are good candidates for the Highly Capable Program.
For Highly Capable students in kindergarten through second grade:
The primary elementary program is based on differentiated learning opportunities in home room classes where students have options for how they can show their understanding and in-depth studies of particular learning goals and curriculum topics. Teachers use their knowledge of highly capable characteristics and needs to individualize learning plans for students who are ready to accelerate or who have specific learning needs that are different than the general grade-level curriculum.
For Highly Capable students in third through fifth grade:
For the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years: The intermediate elementary program includes JAWS (pull-out enrichment), SAIL (full-time self-contained) and GATE (multi-age classroom).
(See links on the right column on this page for more information on each of these programs.)
For the 2015-16 school year and beyond: The district will serve highly capable elementary students from grades 3-5 in their home schools through differentiation, cluster grouping and a GATE-like model using the best practices of JAWS, SAIL, and GATE. Students will receive 5-day per week services from teachers trained in highly capable characteristics and needs. UPDATE: The SAIL program will continue at some level after this transition.
For Highly Capable students in 6th-12th grades.
At the middle and high school levels, highly capable support services generally include differentiation in all classrooms, great elective offerings at each school, and adaptions to the general curriculum or acceleration as needed based on learning plans created with the school staff. In the middle and high schools all teachers are encouraged to use their knowledge of highly capable characteristics and needs to best support their students. Teachers are encouraged to use an interdisciplinary curriculum developed around higher order reasoning, constructing meaning through inquiry, advanced content and concepts, and relevant issues and themes. Many cognitive learning models are employed, such as concept mapping with literature and vocabulary webs.



 Contact Us


For more information, contact 

Patrick Johnson, Director of Equity and Academic Excellence at 253.571.1249.

Dr. Sandy Wentworth, Instructional Facilitator -Highly Capable Programs 253.571.1275

Janice Wright, Secretary Equity and Highly Capable Programs 253.571.1120




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