Highly Capable Services

  • New information (5/5/2021):

    Based on the input from the Highly Capable Advisory Committee (HCAC), testing began looking a bit different for qualification beginning in 2nd grade during the 2020-2021 school year. Students first test on the CogAT and the Torrence Test of Creative Thinking. If a student meets the thresholds for the next step, he/she/they will take the IOWA assessments for math, reading, and science. 
    Depending on the information that the data provides, and the story it tell us about how we should best support our students, we will determine next steps. Any changes would only be in third grade for the 2021-2022 school year, followed by other grades in subsequent years (based on what we glean about our support model).
    Should you be interested in sharing constructive feedback, suggestions, or asking questions, please complete the feedback and suggestion form. Note that you will not receive individual responses to these submissions, but we will use them to inform our process and development of FAQs.

    The Mercer Island School District (MISD) is focused on successfully preparing all students for their future. MISD's Primary Enrichment Services (grades K through 2) are intended to serve our "most highly capable". MISD's Highly Capable Services are designed to meet the academic needs of our students in grades 3 through 12 who are identified as our "most highly capable" students based upon Mercer Island School District's identification process. 

    Translated Information: Chinese | Korean | Spanish

    Primary Enrichment Services are provided to students in their respective general education classrooms in kindergarten, first, and second grade. Classroom teachers receive coaching from our Inclusion and Integration Coach to implement differentiation strategies to meet all students' unique needs.   

    Highly Capable Services, including 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.


    • 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 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.

    Service Delivery

    March 26, 2021 Letter to Parents about K-5 HiCap Changes

    Primary Enrichment Services K-2: Primary Enrichment Services (PES) is an inclusive model that provides enrichment opportunities to students in Kindergarten, first, and second grade. Students who qualify to receive services remain in their general education classrooms and their general education teachers provide enrichment opportunities. These services are separate from Highly Capable Services offered in grades 3-12 and qualification for PES does not guarantee qualification for grades 3-11 Highly Capable Services. Educational research tells us that enrichment within the classroom is far more effective than a pull-out model. 

    Highly Capable Services 3 (starting 2021-2022 school year): Students in third grade starting with the 2021-2022 school year will remain at their neighborhood schools and receive Highly Capable Services through their general education class. Students may qualify to receive services in one or more of the following areas: creative thinking, numeracy, literacy, and science. Each year we will roll the services up one grade level. For example, in 2022-2023 third and fourth grade students will receive services in this model, and in 2023-2024 third, fourth, and fifth graders will all receive services in this model. 

    Highly Capable Services 4-8: Students in fourth through fifth grade who qualify for Highly Capable Services are self-contained in specific classrooms at West Mercer Elementary and Lakeridge Elementary. Students who receive Highly Capable Services remain with their class throughout the day and move to their enrichment activities (PE, art, music, and library) with their class. Highly Capable Services at Islander Middle School (grades 6-8) focus on science, English, and social studies. All other content areas are integrated with the general population of students.

    Highly Capable Services 9-12: We continue to provide services to 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.
    Highly Capable and PES Monitoring: As a district, and provided by state law under ESSA, we are required to continually examine our services and modify them to meet the needs of all of the students in our classes. During the 2017-2018 school year, the district underwent a review of our Highly Capable and PES services. More information about the review can be found on the September 13, 2018 MISD School Board Agenda. During the 2018-2019 school year, an advisory committee convened to discuss the review and the recommended service changes and will continue their work to ensure our services align with the District's vision, mission, and core values.
    For more detailed information please see the following documents:
    Policy and Procedure:

    2021-2022 Timelines
    Highly Capable and Primary Enrichment Services 

    Testing Levels



    Direct questions and comments to Vanessa Adams, Learning Services.