Student Identification

  • Highly Capable Student Definition

    Highly capable students are students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. Outstanding abilities are seen within students' general intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, and/or creative productivities within a specific domain. These students are present not only in the general populace, but are present within all protected classes.

    Renton School District uses a three-step procedure to identify and serve its Highly Capable students.

    Step 1: Referral

    Step 2: Identification

    Step 3: Participation

    Students new to the Renton School District that have been identified as Highly Capable and received Highly Capable services by another school district in the prior school year may request immediate placement in classes in their attendance area school or in district designed programs. They do not need to complete the referral and identification steps. Students that have not been identified or did not receive Highly Capable services in the prior school year must follow all of the nomination and identification steps.

    Step 1: Referral

    Highly Capable Referral Forms for Current Renton School District Students

    Highly Capable Referral Forms for New Renton School District Students (including Kindergarten)

    Current Renton Students (English)

    New Renton Students (English)

    Current Renton Students (Spanish)

    New Renton Students (Spanish)

    Current Renton Students (Russian)

    New Renton Students (Russian)

    Current Renton Students (Chinese)

    New Renton Students (Chinese)

    Current Renton Students (Ukrainian)

    New Renton Students (Ukrainian)

    Current Renton Students (Vietnamese)

    New Renton Students (Vietnamese)


    Any community member that knows a child may refer the child to participate in the identification process.  To refer a child, an individual must complete a Renton School District referral form.  However, a child’s parents or guardians must allow their child to participate in the testing in Step 2 (Identification).

    For students new to Renton School District or grade K students, referral forms must be completed and returned to the address on the form before December 1.

    For returning Renton School District students, referral forms must be completed and returned to the address on the form before March 1.

    Step 2: Identification

    Renton School District uses multiple measures to identify students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. These measures include cognitive ability tests, achievement tests taken at school, and teacher observation.

    We evaluate all referred students in the same way. We begin by looking at a student’s most recent cognitive assessment, reading and math data. We do not have a specific score or “magic number” that we use to identify students as Highly Capable. When we review a student's data we compare theirs to all other students in their grade, which is different every year and for every grade level. The assessment data used for identification is the same for all students in a grade level. However, the assessments can vary from grade level to grade level.

    We use the most objective data available for all students to determine their current ability and future potential in academic subjects. These include: the Cognitive Abilities Test Screener version 7 (CogAT), state tests for reading and math in grade 4 – 9, and reading and math tests taken at school (e.g., WaKIDS for K, Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) for reading, STAR Math, Smarter Balanced Assessments, PSAT).

    To identify the most highly capable students we create a formula based on a combination of data from a student’s cognitive assessment, reading assessments and math assessments. We review each student in comparison to their grade levels peers. The formula is created using scores from local reading and math data from ALL students in the district by grade level; and cognitive scores based on national averages. By using multiple data points in creating the formula, we ensure that no single score either identifies or eliminates a student from consideration. Generally speaking, the students identified for Highly Capable services in Renton score in the top 1 - 15% across the district, not just at their school.

    When a student’s achievement and cognitive ability suggest they may meet Renton’s definition of Highly Capable their results and their teachers’ observation are reviewed by a small committee of administrators and teachers.  As per state law, the committee reviews students’ information and selects students that are the most highly capable and will benefit the most from Highly Capable services.  The committee consists of 2 district program directors, 2 instructional chiefs, a school psychologist, and 2 Highly Capable program teachers.


    Academic Achievement

    Cognitive ability








    TS Gold*

    TS Gold*

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    1 – 3


    STAR Math

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    4 – 9


    SBA Math

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    10 – 11


    SBA Math or PSAT

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    CogAT 7 screener

    *Schools not utilizing TS Gold will use an alternate school wide assessment.

    English Language Learners

    In addition to ability and achievement assessments, the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA or ELPA21) is used to evaluate students whose first language is not English to determine their ability for rapid language acquisition which can be a characteristic of highly capable learners.

    Special Education Students

    Students who qualify for Highly Capable program services and also qualify for either special education services or a 504 plan are often referred to as twice-exceptional students. Additional data available for students with IEPs may be used in the identification process when relevant to determine a need for highly capable program services.

    Step 3: Participation

    Letters are mailed to the parents of students that participated in Step 2 (Identification) indicating whether or not the student has been identified as eligible for services through the Highly Capable Program. Families will be asked if they would like to participate in the district’s specially designed Highly Capable programs, as available. All students identified as Highly Capable will be provided educational opportunities that take into account their particular needs and capabilities regardless of participation in the district's specially designed programs.

    Parents/legal guardians have the right to appeal the district’s Highly Capable decision. Individuals appealing the selection committee’s decision must submit a completed appeals form or letter requesting a review of selection/placement decision. The written request must be provided within two weeks of the parent/legal guardian’s receipt of the decision, include reasons for the appeal and provide additional evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels and/or outstanding intellectual or academic.

    Appeals Form

    Appeals Form

    Appeals Form

    Appeals Form

    Appeals Form

    Appeals Form

  • The Renton School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.