315 129th Street South, Tacoma, WA 98444 | (253) 298-3000

Highly Capable

Franklin Pierce School District is committed to our “Core Business” of engaging all students in rigorous, relevant, high quality work.  We provide a comprehensive highly capable program which offers a variety of advanced and accelerated learning opportunities at all grade levels.  Highly capable students are students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advance academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences or environment (WAC 392-180-045).

Program Information by Grade Level

Kindergarten - 3rd Grade

Services for each identified student will be developed at the student’s home school in collaboration with school staff and families.  Service options may include differentiated curriculum and/or instruction in the classroom, cluster grouping, and/or accelerated content area instruction for part of the day.  

4th - 5th Grade

Services for eligible and selected students are provided on site at Brookdale Elementary through a self-contained program, Project Excel.  Project Excel provides appropriately challenging curriculum and assignments requiring research through accelerated study.  The referral process for Project Excel begins in March and student selection completed in May.  Students are recommended by either parents, guardians, community members or teachers.  Students are selected based on recommendations, standardized test scores and previous program experience.  Please click on the Eligibility and Enrollment tab for more information.

6th - 8th Grade

Services middle school students are provided on site at both Ford and Keithley Middle School through the Pre-Advanced Place Program.  The Pre-AP Program provides multi-disciplinary instruction, cooperative learning, and a variety of exploratory, research-based projects.  Students may be recommended or self-select enrollment into the Pre-AP Program.  Students who are successful in the Brookdale Project Excel program are automatically enrolled in the Pre-AP Program. 

9th - 12th Grade

Students at the high school level do not need to be officially selected to enroll in advanced and accelerated courses.  We encourage all students to take advantage of selecting appropriately challenging courses.  Highly Capable Program services are provided through Advanced Placement (AP) and Pre-AP courses, College in the High School, Career and Technical Education Dual Credit opportunities and Running Start.  Please see High School Course Catalogs and contact your student’s counselor regarding specific scheduling supports and click here to read about the differences between the above listed services.

Eligibility and Enrollment
Students entering 4th and 5th grade, are recommended by either parents, guardians, community members or teachers. Referral packets are available in elementary school offices or you can complete the online form here: https://bit.ly/2RRmKGb. The referral packet includes a parent permission to administer the CogAT and writing sample to their student. The Cognitive Abilities Test and writing sample are two pieces of information used for program selection and will take place during the school day mid-March.
A multidisciplinary selection committee meets and reviews all on-time referral forms, compiles data and determines student selection for Highly Capable Program services. In accordance with state requirements, the committee uses multiple objective criteria to identify those students who are among the most highly capable.  Selection is based on review of recommendations, standardized test scores and previous program experience.  Standardized test scores include but are not limited to: cognitive abilities assessments, district achievement data, and state achievement data.  A single assessment score or indicator will not prevent a student’s selection for the Highly Capable Program. 
All referred students will be notified in writing of their selection status in late May.
Parents or guardians may appeal the decision of the multidisciplinary team due to information that was not available at the time of selection (ex. missing assessment scores) by completing an appeal form within ten days of receiving their selection status letter.  Please send appeal forms to:
Dr. Annette Burnett
Assistant Director of Data, Assessment and Highly Capable
Franklin Pierce Schools
315 129th Street South
Tacoma, WA 98444.  
Appeals will be reviewed by the multidisciplinary team in June and will be notified in writing regarding the team’s decision.


How do I refer a student for highly capable programs?

Please see our Eligibility and Enrollment page, here, for students entering 4th – 8th grade.  For all other grades, connect with your student’s counselor.

What are some characteristics of a highly capable student?

Highly capable students perform or show potential for performing at significantly advance academic levels when compared with others of their age, experience and environments.  Click here for a chart of characteristics which help identify characteristics of highly capable students.

My student was referred in the past and was not eligible for highly capable services, can I refer them again?

Students who have not been previously identified may be referred each March.

My student was referred by a teacher, do I (as the parent or guardian) need to do anything else?

Yes, the school district must have parent or guardian permission before a student can be assessed for highly capable services.

What is the CogAT?

The Cognitive Abilities Test measures a student’s reasoning skills in three parts.  The first is verbal and tests a student’s vocabulary, as well as their comprehension of ideas, efficiency and verbal memory, and ability to discover word relationships.  The second part tests student’s quantitative reasoning and problem solving ability and provides an appraisal of their general level of abstract reasoning.  The third part is non-verbal and uses geometric shapes, paper folding and figures and requires students to construct analogies based on a sequence of images.  Click here to view sample CogAT items.

Should my student study before taking the CogAT?

No.  These tests are not the same as standardized tests where you know the words or facts and can get a score of 100%.  The CogAT measures how your student thinks, reasons and comes to conclusions.

Does my student need to requalify for services every year?

No.  Once identified, a student will receive highly capable program services unless formally exited from the program.  If exited, your student may go through the selection process for the next school year by completing the referral form and assessment.

I am transferring my student(s) to Franklin Piece Schools next year, can I refer my student for testing?

We can only assess students currently attending Franklin Pierce Schools.  Transfer students may be referred when they begin attending and will be assessed during the next selection process.  If your student is currently participating in a highly capable program and is transferring to Franklin Pierce Schools, please let the school know when you register your student.  Your student’s documentation of participation in previous highly capable program, testing data and academic achievement support data will be reviewed by the committee to determine placement and if selection criteria are met, your student will be enrolled as program space allows.

Does the district provide transportation to Brookdale for Project Excel?

Yes, the district provides bus transportation to and from our self-contained program at Brookdale Elementary.

How can I be involved in my student’s highly capable program success?

There are many ways to be involved, both at home and as a volunteer.  Opportunities vary among schools and programs, please contact your student’s teacher for more information.