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

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    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 students in their respective general education classrooms in kindergarten and first grade. Classroom teachers receive coaching from our Instructional Differentiation Coach to implement differentiation strategies to meet all students' unique needs. Current second grade students in PEP will continue with the service model for 2018-2019 as it was when they began the program. 
    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 and first 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. Second grade students continue with the previous model for the 2018-2019 school year. 

    Highly Capable 3-8: The grades 3-8 Highly Capable Program is self-contained in grades 3 through 5 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 will convene to discuss the review and the recommended program changes. 
    For more detailed information please see the following documents:
    Policy and Procedure:

    Nomination Forms

    January testing 2019 - Primary Enrichment Program (PEP) Grades 1-2
    The opportunity to nominate private school students and district students who have not tested in the last twelve months (since the January 2018 testing) will be November 26, 2018 - December 14, 2018. Testing will occur on January 16, 2019.
    January testing 2019 - Highly Capable Program (HiCap) Grades 3-11
    The opportunity to nominate private school students and district students who have not tested in the last twelve months (since the January 2018 testing) will be November 26, 2018 - December 14, 2018. Testing will occur on January 23 and January 30, 2019.

    2018-2019 Timelines
    Highly Capable and Primary Enrichment Program 

    Testing Levels

    Additional Information