Main Menu

Explore More


Renton School District

Highly Capable Identification Process

The 19-20 referral window for currently enrolled RSD students closed on January 17, 2020. The 20-21 referral window will open September 1, 2020.

Students who enroll in RSD on or after January 6, 2020 have until April 3, 2020 to be referred for Highly Capable testing during the 19-20 school year.


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 Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, 3rd Edition (NNAT3), state tests (SBA) for English-language arts and mathematics in grades 4 – 9, and reading and math tests taken at school for grades K-3 and 9-12 (e.g., WaKIDS, Benchmark Assessment System [BAS], Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), STAR Math, 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 - 10% 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 are reviewed by a small committee of educators.  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 two district program directors, two instructional chiefs, a principal, a school psychologist, district Highly Capable staff, and two Highly Capable program teachers.


Below is the 2019-20 school year’s timeline for the Highly Capable Program referral process. All testing will take place in a student’s home school during the school day, with the exception of a single make-up test at the district office. All communication will take place via email unless a family does not have any email address on file with their school. Please ensure your email contact information with your student’s school is current. For any question contact

Highly Capable Referral Process Timeline
September 3

Referral form becomes available for all students

October 1

Begin administering the NNAT3 to students enrolled on or after January 1, 2019 on a monthly basis in their schools. Testing will be done by the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

October 1-31

Second Graders take the NNAT3 with their classroom teachers during the school day

November 1-30

Kindergarteners who have been referred can be given the NNAT3


Results from WaKIDS are available; Kindergarten qualification decisions are finalized

January 17

Referral form closes to all students EXCEPT those who enrolled in Renton School District on or after January 6, 2020

January 27 – February 14

Returning students and any New to District Students who missed previous testing dates are tested in their home school by members of the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.


Qualification decisions are made and sent to families by email unless explicitly requested by mail. Please ensure you have a current email on file with your student’s school.

April 3

Referral form closes for students enrolled on or after January 6, 2020

April 30 

End of all testing and placement for students enrolled on or after January 6, 2020

Identification Assessment Measures






WaKIDS - Literacy

WaKIDS - Mathematics


1 – 3




4 – 9


SBA Math


10 –12


SBA Math or PSAT


For more information about specific assessments and their accompanying scores, please visit our district's Assessment page and use the "Understanding Assessments" tab. 


Appeal Process

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 (see form for exact date), include reasons for the appeal and provide additional evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels and/or outstanding intellectual or academic abilities. 

Parents/guardians are encouraged to contact when initially pursuing an appeal so that our team can help identify which data points could help strengthen the appeal.

Appeal forms can be found on the right-side tool bar at the top of this page.

Highly Capable Contacts

Highly Capable Referral for Students who have Enrolled in RSD on/after January 6, 2020

Appeal Form