Highly Capable Program

  • The Mercer Island School District is focused on successfully preparing all students for their future. The Mercer Island Primary Enrichment Program (grades K through 2) 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 3 through 12 who are identified as our "most highly capable" students based upon Mercer Island School District's identification and selection process. 
    Contact Jamie Prescott, Director of Learning Services

    Translated Information: Chinese | Korean | Spanish

    Our Primary Enrichment Program serves students in their respective general education classrooms in kindergarten, first, and second grade. Classroom teachers receive coaching from our Instructional Differentiation Coach to implement differentiation strategies to meet all students' unique needs.   

    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.


    • 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

    Primary Enrichment Program K-2: The Primary Enrichment Program (PEP) is an inclusive model that provides enrichment opportunities to students in Kindergarten, first and second grade. Students who qualify for this program remain in their general education classrooms and their general education teachers provide enrichment opportunities. This program is separate from the Highly Capable Program and qualification for PEP does not guarantee qualification for the 3-11 Highly Capable Program. Our program has changed each year to accommodate the most appropriate instruction for our students. Educational research tells us that enrichment within the classroom is far more effective than a pull-out model. 

    Highly Capable 3-8: The third through fifth grade Highly Capable Program is self-contained at West Mercer Elementary and Lakeridge Elementary. Students in the Highly Capable Program remain with their class throughout the day and move to their enrichment activities (PE, art, music, and library) with their class. The Highly Capable Program at Islander Middle School (grades 6-8) focuses on science, English, and social studies. All other content areas are integrated with the general population of students.

    Highly Capable 9-12: 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.
    Highly Capable and PEP Program Monitoring: As a district, and provided by state law under ESSA, we are required to continually examine our program and modify it 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 PEP programs. 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 program changes and will continue their work through the 2019-2020 school year 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:

    Nomination Form

    Nomination form for September 2020 testingTesting for families NEW to MISD as of August 10, 2020 will occur on September 23 & 30 immediately after school -- please plan accordingly. Students are required to attend BOTH testing days to complete the full battery of tests. There are no make-up testing dates. Tests will be administered remotely and students must have their district-issued iPads to complete the assessment and an additional device to be able to Zoom for the duration of the exams. 
    If you choose to nominate your child for testing into either PEP or HiCap, please note that students may only test once every 12 months. Testing will occur only within pre-determined time frames and nomination deadlines are firm, so as to allow time to prepare to test nominated students. 

    A final note before you begin the nomination – Once you've hit submit, your nomination will be sent to the appropriate parties. You do not need to email to confirm that you've submitted a nomination. You will receive information regarding testing as the testing dates approach. See 2020-2021 Timelines below.

    The next nomination window will open in January 2021. Due to remote learning at the start of the 2020-2021 school-year, we will be administering the assessments in Spring 2021, not Winter 2020-2021. 


    2020-2021 Timelines
    Highly Capable and Primary Enrichment Program 

    Testing Levels

    Additional Information