• Highly Capable Program FAQs

    General information
    Tumwater School District provides a continuum of services to meet the learning needs of highly capable students residing in our district. We offer a self-contained program housed at Michael T. Simmons for highly capable students in third through fifth grade. This program is a self-contained, full-time program and provides an accelerated curriculum.


    The Middle School program is designed for students who are academically advanced or demonstrate high intellectual capability.  Successful candidates are often independent learners who thrive on progressively challenging opportunities, utilize advanced problem-solving and in-depth study. They thrive with presentation of curriculum matched to their demonstrated skills and capabilities. Identified students are served through classroom teachers at their home school, either Bush Middle School or Tumwater Middle School.  


    High School students have many opportunities to choose from for their high school educational goals. 

    • Advanced Placement classes
    • College in the High School options
    • Running Start (in conjunction with South Puget Sound Community College)
    • New Market Skills Center

    Is there an age or grade limit to test?
    Students must be in grade kindergarten or above in order to be eligible for testing.

    Is there a fee to have my child tested for the program?
    No. The Highly Capable Program is fully funded by the state as Basic Education.

    How do I know if my student is a good candidate for the program at Michael T. Simmons?
    The MTS program serves some of the highly capable students in the district. One way to explore if this program would be a good fit for your student is to discuss your student’s academic abilities and performance with their teacher. Aside from high academic performance, here are some typical intellectual characteristics of highly capable children:

    • Unusually large vocabulary for their age
    • Ability to read earlier than most children, often before entering school
    • Greater comprehension of the subtleties of language
    • Longer attention span, persistence, and intense concentration
    • Ability to learn basic skills more quickly and with less practice
    • Wide range of interests
    • Highly developed curiosity and a limitless supply of questions
    • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
    • Tendency to put ideas together in ways that are unusual and not obvious (divergent thinking)
    • Ability to retain a great deal of information
    • Unusual sense of humor


    When is the referral period?
    The referral period for the following school year's program is held each year from November 1st through 30th and is open to all students in kindergarten through twelfth grade residing in the Tumwater School District boundary.

    How do I get a referral?
    Referrals will be made available on the Highly Capable website beginning in November and remain through the referral deadline on November 30th. Referrals will also be available at all elementary, middle, and high schools in the district. 


    Can out-of-district students apply?
    No. Applications are only accepted from students who reside within Tumwater School District boundaries. To reside in the district means that the student lives at an address within the school district.

    We don’t live in the Tumwater School District, but we are thinking of moving. Can we apply?
    No. Applications are only accepted from students who currently reside in the district.

    Are there any screening requirements for testing?
    No. Only the completed referral packet needs to be submitted prior to the deadline of November 30th.

    Can my child still take the CogAT test without standardized test scores?
    Yes, private school students should submit standardized test scores for those administered at the private school. All referral materials must be submitted by November 30th.

    Does everyone who completes a referral and turns it in by the deadline get assessed?
    Yes.

    I had my child privately tested. Can I submit these results with the application?
    No. Due to equity for all students, the district does not accept private testing results. All students must go through the district’s identification process to be eligible for Highly Capable programs.

    My child is in a private school. What should we do?
    The Student Learning office reviews academic performance on your student's most recent achievement or state test results if available. Along with the completed referral packet, submit copies of your child’s achievement or state test results along with proof of residency to the Student Learning office before November 30th. It is helpful to the Multidisciplinary Team if the former year or current teacher completes the Teacher Inventory Form found in the referral packet.

    If my child attends a Tumwater School District school, do I need to provide proof of residency?
    No. Only those families that are currently attending private schools need to show proof of residency.

    When are the tests given for the Highly Capable programs?
    The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) will be given to all students that have turned in a referral packet by November 30th. Testing is during school hours in December and/or January. If a student is ill on their testing day, we will attempt to reschedule one time. Being on vacation or out of town is not an acceptable reason to miss the regularly scheduled testing date; your child will not be given a make-up test opportunity.

    How and when will I know if my child is scheduled for testing?
    If your referral packet has been received by the deadline, your child will be scheduled for testing and you will receive an email with the date, time and place of testing no later than the first Monday in December. If you do not receive an email by the first Monday in December, contact the Student Learning office immediately to verify your child’s referral has been received.

    What is the testing process?
    Students will be tested in a group setting unless they have an IEP or 504 stating otherwise. All students will have the test directions read to them. Grades kindergarten through second will not be timed but will be paced by the test proctor, they will also have the questions read to them. Third grade and higher students will be timed at ten minutes per section, and they will read the questions themselves. All students will take the assessment on a computer.

     
    What if my child is sick and cannot take the test on the scheduled date?
    Students that are unable to attend testing due to illness, with a doctor’s note, will be given one opportunity for a make-up test as determined by the district. The make-up test will be scheduled during the school day. Parents must contact the Student Learning office (via email or voicemail) the day of the scheduled test in order to add their child’s name to the make-up testing roster. If a student is unable to test on the district scheduled make-up day, they may test the next year during the regularly scheduled winter testing cycle for potential placement the following school year.


    What if we have a family emergency and my child cannot take the test on the scheduled date?
    Students that are unable to attend testing due to exceptional, unforeseen circumstances will be given one opportunity for a make-up test as determined by the district. The make-up test will be scheduled during the school day. Parents must contact the Student Learning office (via email or voicemail) the day of the scheduled test in order to add their child’s name to the make-up testing roster. If a student is unable to test on the district scheduled make-up day, they may test the following year during the regularly scheduled winter testing cycle for potential placement the next school year.

    How will we be notified of the results of the CogAT?
    You will receive a letter in US Mail during the first week of February. This letter will include the recommendation of the Multidisciplinary Team, but will not include individual results on the CogAT.

     
    Can I appeal the results?
    Decisions of the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) can be appealed only in the same school year in which the student was tested. Appeals may only be made based upon one of the following conditions:

    • An extraordinary circumstance occurred during testing that may have negatively affected the validity of the test results (i.e., traumatic event or an illness preventing completion of the test).
    • A misapplication or miscalculation of the assessment data by the selection committee due to an incorrect birth date or grade level used in calculating the student’s score.
    •  The decision of the appeal review team is final and may not be challenged.

      Can we observe MTS program classrooms?
      While we try to keep classroom disruptions to a minimum, if there is a strong desire to see the program, parents may reach out to Michael T. Simmons to inquire about an observation.  It is up to the school administrator to determine if an observation will be too disruptive at the desired time.

      We are moving into the Tumwater School District and my child attended a gifted program at their last school. Do we need to wait until the winter testing cycle to have them assessed?
      No. Once you move into the Tumwater School District, contact the Student Learning office and we will review your information and discuss the process.


    My child was attending a highly capable program in their previous school and we moved into the district during summer break. Who do we contact and when?
    The Student Learning office is open most of the year, please contact our office once you are living within the district boundaries to discuss the process.

    My child was attending a gifted/highly capable program in their previous school district and we moved into the Tumwater School District mid-semester. What do we do?
    Contact the Student Learning office as soon as you are living in the district to discuss the process.