Students in the VPS highly capable program receive challenging and engaging instruction tailored to their advanced educational needs. This program provides important benefits for the students and families it serves. Work that is underway to expand the program is providing more highly capable students with the opportunity to receive those benefits as well. 

A team of VPS staff members has been reviewing the elementary program and looking for more ways to serve all highly capable students. The team reviewed the number of students served, perspectives of families and teachers and research-based best practices. This review resulted in changes to how students are identified for the program and allowed staff to begin exploring different methods of providing instruction.

Identifying students

Instead of identifying students from a single test, a multidisciplinary selection committee reviews students’ learning portfolios. These include the results of several assessments and behavioral characteristic surveys. This change has nearly doubled the number of elementary students who may receive highly capable services, from 393 children this year to an estimated 695 for next school year.

Providing instruction

Currently, students receive specialized instruction at their neighborhood school or in a self-contained classroom at Truman or Eisenhower elementary schools. Over the past 10 years there has been an increase in the number of parents who have selected services at their neighborhood school.   

To accommodate this preference, the team will be providing specialized training and support for elementary classroom teachers throughout the district through an additional support position and expanded programming. This would support teachers’ ability to provide appropriately challenging, individualized instruction and services to more highly capable students at each neighborhood elementary school. 

At the April 12 school board meeting, directors requested that the district team to further engage with teachers, families and students to learn more about their priorities for the highly capable program. School board directors also asked for additional information on identification, communication and programming as the team researches a long-term plan for the program. The team will bring a  recommendation to be considered by the school board in spring 2023. 

For more information, please contact the highly capable office at 360-313-1360 or go to the highly capable webpage.