Main Menu

Explore More


Renton School District

Highly Capable Identification Process


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


Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS)

The Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) is a comprehensive system for one-on-one assessment completed by classroom teachers two to three times a year that reliably and systematically measures students' instructional and independent reading abilities.

Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, 3rd edition (NNAT3)

The NNAT3 is a culture-fair, nonverbal measure of reasoning and problem solving abilities. The assessment is administered to all 2nd graders in Renton School District and any student in grades K-1 or 3-12 that refer for the Highly Capable program.

Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)

The College Board’s PSAT focuses on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The tests are nationally normed and have three sections: Reading; Writing and Language; and Math. The test is aligned with the widely used college entrance exam known as the SAT.

Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) - ELA and Mathematics

The Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics are state tests taken at the end of the year in grades 3 – 8, 10 & 11. The summative assessment is administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year. It describes both student achievement and growth of student learning and provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of students’ progress toward, and attainment of the knowledge and skills required to be college- and career-ready.

Star Math Assessment

STAR assessment is a computer adaptive math assessment tool, using sophisticated item calibration and psychometrics to dynamically adjust to each student's unique responses in grades kindergarten through ninth grade. It is given initially to assess students' computational skills for their grade level.  It can be given multiple times throughout the school year in order to regularly monitor the development of computational skills and procedures.

Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WAKIDS)

The WaKIDS is an ongoing evaluation tool for early childhood educators that includes predictors of school success and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards.


English Language Learners

In addition to ability and achievement assessments, the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (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.

Students Who Receive Special Education Services

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.

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 will be made available here by February 2020.

Highly Capable Contacts

General Inquiries


Jon Stadler
Chief of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment

Karen Soine, EdD
Assistant Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment


Jessica Reynolds
Highly Capable Coordinator

Program Services - East Hill Service Area

Candice Anderson
Highly Capable Facilitator


  • Hazelwood
  • Honey Dew
  • Kennydale
  • Maplewood Heights
  • Sierra Heights
  • McKnight
  • Risdon
  • Hazen

Program Services - South and West Hill Service Area

Kelley Lowery
Highly Capable Facilitator


  • Benson Hill
  • Bryn Mawr
  • Campbell Hill
  • Cascade
  • Highlands
  • Lakeridge
  • Renton Park
  • Sartori
  • Talbot Hill
  • Tiffany Park
  • Dimmitt
  • Nelsen
  • Lindbergh
  • Renton HS

Highly Capable Referral

FAQ for Families

Frequently asked questions pertaining to the Highly Capable referral, identification processes, and continuum of services.