Highly Capable Program

FRemail The Mercer Island School District is focused on successfully preparing all students for their future. The Mercer Island Primary Enrichment Program (grades K through two) is intended to serve our "most highly capable". The Mercer Island Highly Capable Program is designed to meet the academic needs of our students in grades three through twelve who are identified as our "most highly capable" students based upon Mercer Island School District's identification and selection process


Mission Statement

In accordance with the philosophy to develop the special abilities of each student, the Mercer Island
School District offers appropriate instructional programs to meet the needs of exceptionally gifted and
talented students.
Our Primary Enrichment Program serves as a pull-out and/or push-in model to enrich students' general education curriculum.  
Our Highly Capable Program curriculum, instruction and assessment practices are designed to meet the following objectives:
  • Expansion of academic attainments and intellectual skills;
  • Stimulation of intellectual curiosity, independence and responsibility;
  • Development of a positive attitude toward self and others; and
  • Development of originality and creativity.


The Mercer Island School District Highly Capable Program develops the special abilities of the highly capable student by fostering academic excellence through the challenges of accelerated, compacted, integrated and enriched curriculum, as well as through the stimulation of working with highly capable peers. The Highly Capable Program is designed to recognize that, despite high intellectual ability, students differ in levels of organizational ability, personal maturity, academic competence, values and family background.

Highly Capable Program teachers work as a team sharing expertise and knowledge to coordinate and continually refine the curriculum.



  • To provide enriched and accelerated academic opportunities with an emphasis on the development of higher level thinking skills including application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of content and concepts.
  • To offer a rigorous academic curriculum that is at least one year above grade level in math and reading at the elementary level so as to appropriately challenge and motivate students to excel.
  • To offer an environment where highly capable students are encouraged to reach their full potential.
  • To address the social and emotional needs of highly capable students through teacher support, peer interaction, and by fostering a sense of community.
  • To prepare students for future contributions to society and to encourage life-long learning.

Program Design

The Primary Enrichment Program (PEP) is an enrichment program that offers pull-out instruction to K, 1, and 2 students. Students who qualify for this program remain in their general education classrooms with enrichment pull-out and/or push-in once a week. This program is separate from the Highly Capable Program and qualification for PEP does not guarantee qualification for the 3-8 Highly Capable Program. 
The grades 3-8 Highly Capable Program is self-contained in grades three through five at West Mercer Elementary and Lakeridge Elementary. Students in the Highly Capable Program remain with their class throughout the day and move to their elective studies PE, art, music, and library with their class. The Highly Capable Program at Islander Middle School focuses on science, English and social studies. All other content areas are integrated with the general population of students.
We continue to provide services to our highly capable students in high school through honors and AP courses which are available to all students. This continuum of service provides appropriate support and accommodation for all highly capable students from identification to graduation.

Program Changes Beginning in 2014-2015

Changes are coming to our Highly Capable Programs. The Washington State Legislature passed a new law that requires all school districts to identify and serve their “most highly capable” students and provide a continuum of services to those students in Kindergarten through 12th grade beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

What will remain the same?
The current 3rd through 8th grade program will remain unchanged and already meets the expectations of the law under the new legislation. All second grade students and nominated 3rd through 7th grade students were tested this winter. This will continue to be our practice in future years.

What will change for current Kindergarten students?
Kindergarten students will begin the screening process in December 2014. In-class services through individualization and differentiation began in September 2014 for first and second grade students. Services for Kindergarten students will begin in late January/ early February after eligibility is determined. Parents do not need to nominate MISD Kindergarten students. If a parent wishes for their child not to be tested, please alert the classroom teacher. 

What will change for high school students?
Eighth graders enrolling in high school and current 9th through 11th graders will be served within the comprehensive high school setting at Mercer Island High School as they are now. Students will have the opportunity to enroll in courses such as Honors, Advanced Placement, College in the High School, and Running Start. Students identified as the "most highly capable" will be monitored for academic benefit by a team at the high school.


All Kindergarten students and nominated first through second grade students are tested for eligibility in the Primary Enrichment Program. Those who meet the criteria are offered placement into our Primary Enrichment program for the current school year. 
All second grade students and nominated third through seventh grade students are tested for eligibility in the Highly Capable Program. Those who meet the criteria are offered placement into our Highly Capable Program for the following year.
The nomination timelines for the 2014-2015 school year are listed below. If you have any questions, you may contact Fred Rundle, 206-230-6336 or Nova Williams, 206-236-4510.

For more detailed information please see the following documents:
Policy and Procedure: