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Meeting highly capable students' needs

Every student is an individual with unique talents, learning styles and needs. Tacoma Public Schools offers highly capable programs and services PreK-12 to students who perform, or show the potential of performing, at high intellectual levels when compared with others of their age and experience. Highly capable children are present in all student groups, regardless of gender, disability, English language proficiency, economic status, ethnic or cultural background.



Q. What is being done for gifted/highly capable students at Whittier and Wainwright?

 In Tacoma Public Schools, highly capable offerings may look a little different from school to school as each elementary has different needs and opportunities. Advanced classes in middle school and high school are generally open to all students.


At Whittier and Wainwright, highly capable students participate in the district GATE program by cluster-grouping highly capable students for enrichment and differentiated instruction. They will also receive access to accelerated curriculum or instruction.

Wainwright and Whittier teachers will have additional training opportunities regarding highly capable needs this summer. The district will also plan staff sessions specific to Whittier and Wainwright needs over the following year, and work with school administration and individual staff during the remainder of the year to provide support. 



Thank you to all of our parents who responded to our Parent Survey for Highly Capable students. 294 parents responded to the survey. Your feedback is appreciated and will help us improve programming. One of the outcomes will be to look at multiple ways of communicating information out to parents.

Upcoming changes to our programs


Currently we offer three programs for highly capable learners in elementary. The biggest change is coming to JAWS (Joining Ability with Subjects), which buses students once a week to an enrichment program. Recently, the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the federal government determined that pullout one-day enrichment programs such as JAWS no longer provide enough support for highly capable students.

As a result, JAWS phases out over the next two years, to be completely replaced by fall 2017 with five-day a week GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) programs at every elementary school. Find out more details on the phase out of JAWS and implementation of GATE.

SAIL (Self-contained Advanced Individual Learning), is a five-day a week program for the top 1 percent of students districtwide, currently located at Point Defiance, Lister, and Browns Point Elementary Schools, it continues unchanged.

Important dates

Nominations, Screening and Placement

Group A (Grades K, 3, 4, 5 6, 7, 12)

Group B (2nd Grade)

Group C (Grades 1, 8, 9, 10, 11 + Tacoma private school students)

First day of school in October nomination forms are due

No nominations, district-wide screening

First day of school in April nomination forms are due

Last week of October NNAT2 screening

January and February NNAT2 screening

Third week of April NNAT2 screening

February identification decision made

May identification decision made

August identification decision made

August program placement

August program placement

August program placement

Community Meetings

CAT (Community Advisory Team) Meetings

March 15, 2016 - Wainwright/Giaudrone

6:00-7:00pm - Giaudrone Cafeteria

April 28, 2016 - Central Administration Building 

6:00-7:00 PM - 4th Floor Conference Room

March 16, 2016 - Jason Lee/Meeker

6:00-7:00pm - Jason Lee Auditorium


March 22, 2016 - First Creek/Stewart

6:00-7:00pm - First Creek Cafeteria


March 23, 2016Baker/Gray

6:00-7:00pm - Gray Cafeteria

​March 24, 2016Mason/Truman

6:00-7;00pm - Mason Cafeteria​