Centralia School District 401

Achieving Excellence

  •  Highly Capable Program (HiCap)


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    For information on the Elementary HiCap program (formerly Apex), please download the HiCap Manual: 
    For Referrals and appeals (see tan box, below) please download the Referrals Form and the Appeals Form:

    Identifying Highly Capable Students

    The Centralia School District annually attempts to identify students who may benefit from the district’s highly capable program. Starting in the winter of 2018, the identification process will begin with a district-wide screening component for all kindergartners. This will allow us to identify our highly capable learners early, so that we can begin serving them in their classrooms right away.

    The process includes the review of information or data from multiple sources to determine whether a student's aptitudes and learning needs are most appropriately served through the school's HiCap education program.

    Parents may also refer their student for the program at grades 1-12 (see Form 13.2).  The committee will consider all referrals that are submitted by March 30th, for admission the following fall.  Students will be tested for HiCap no more than once every two years.

    Please send referral forms to Leslie Kitchel at the District Office before March 30th.

    Note: Because we have not been identifying our students until the end of 2nd grade, we will need one year in which kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades are screened in the spring for placement in the fall of 2017. This screening will occur during the week of April 24, 2017.


    Appeals Process

    Parents of students who are not found eligible for HiCap services may appeal the decision. Parents are asked to fill out the Appeals Form and turn it in to Leslie Kitchel at the District Office within 10 days of receipt of the initial decision, and an appeals committee (HiCap Services Team) will be convened. The decision of the appeals committee is final.

    Changes in our Highly Capable Program for School Year 2016-2017

    In keeping with new requirements passed by the Washington State Legislature, the Centralia School District will begin offering services to all elementary students who are identified as highly capable (HiCap) during every school day from the start of the 2016-17 school year. The new requirements confirm that HiCap services are a part of a gifted student’s basic education.  As a result, schools are now required to provide specialized instruction to highly capable K-12 students on a daily basis. 

    Unfortunately, the legislature does not include extra funding to add staffing for HiCap.  Because it is part of “basic education,” we are expected to use the basic funding we already have.  One way to do this at the elementary level is to ask every elementary classroom teacher to build into their lesson plans special assignments and activities for the one or two HiCap kids who are assigned to their class. 

    Another way to meet this need is with a cluster model.  In this model, gifted students are clustered in a regular classroom in groups of 4-8, with a teacher trained in strategies for highly capable learners.  The rest of the class is balanced out with students who have varied abilities. This gives HiCap kids a group of peers to learn with, and allows for one teacher at each grade level to be the expert (rather than expecting every teacher to be the expert). 

    The Centralia School District has asked elementary schools to choose from the following two options for the 2016-17 school year:

    Proposed Option A:

    • Continue one-day-per-week enrichment program (formerly known as Apex) for grades 3-6

    • One teacher per grade level (1st-6th grade) at each elementary school is identified to pilot HiCap clustering.  Kindergarten students will not be clustered but will need to be served in their own classroom by their regular classroom teacher

    • Elementary students who are identified as Highly Capable are clustered in grade-level classrooms (typically one teacher per grade level at each school). The rest of the cluster classroom is balanced with students of varying abilities

    • For the first year, teachers will be asked to “try out” strategies for teaching gifted students in one area (such as ELA).  Resources such as iReady could possibly be part of this

    • Principals and cluster teachers will be trained in characteristics of gifted students and strategies for teaching gifted learners. Training will begin with a two-hour afterschool training in May 2016, with ongoing training throughout SY 2016-17 (Likely one two-hour afterschool training per month). 

    • Ongoing opportunities will be made available for cluster teachers to collaborate


    A cluster classroom can alleviate the need for every teacher in the school to be an expert in gifted education and can reduce the workload on teachers.  For example, writing required Individualized Learning Plans for each HiCap student can be difficult for teachers who aren’t experts on this, as can the process of compacting the curriculum.  Differentiating curriculum is already difficult for classroom teachers who are trying to meet the needs of average and struggling learners.

    In addition:

    • Highly Capable students need a peer group that they can relate to socially and academically

    • HiCap students should be taught according to the Gifted Programming Standards as well as the Common Core

    • HiCap students need a program that is tailored to their INDIVIDUAL academic needs (acceleration as well as enrichment).  These needs can vary dramatically from student to student.  HiCap students who are bored can become behavior issues and can be at risk of underachieving

    • HiCap students need to be in a classroom that is responsive to their special characteristics

    Proposed Option B:

    • Continue one-day-per-week enrichment program (formerly known as Apex) for grades 3-6, AND

    Each school will submit an alternative plan for consideration.  The plan must meet the requirements of board policy and the law and include:

    • How each teacher will complete and monitor individualized learning plans

    • How each teacher will meet the need for interaction with other highly capable students

    • How each teacher will meet the requirements of Common Core AND the Gifted Programming Standards

    • How each teacher will differentiate curriculum and strategies to meet the unique needs (including acceleration AND enrichment) of highly capable students

    • How ongoing training for ALL classroom teachers will be scheduled and funded at the building level


    Regardless of the model your child’s school chooses, please know that your child will now receive daily services in gifted education.  3rd-6th grade children who participate in the weekly enrichment pull-out HiCap program (formerly called Apex), will continue going to that once a week.  In addition, they will receive daily HiCap instruction in their home school.  We are very excited to offer this improved level of service to our highly capable students!

    Dr. Shelley Habenicht, Director of Special Programs & Assessment
    MaryAnn White, Elementary HiCap Teacher
    Fred Gallagher, Humanities Teacher, Centralia Middle School 

    Other websites and resources for your information:


    National Association for Gifted Children:  http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/gifted-education-practices/identification?id=958


    Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards:  http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/national-standards-gifted-and-talented-education/pre-k-grade-12?id=546



    Information on Cluster grouping

    FAQ:  http://www.ericdigests.org/2001-4/cluster.html 



    Article: The HiCap Cluster Classroom


    Book: Teaching Gifted Kids in Today's Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use, by Susan Winebrenner and Dina Bulles. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit, 2012. Print.