High Ability » K-4 High Ability Identification and Placement

K-4 High Ability Identification and Placement

Multifaceted Student Identification Plan

  • We identify students for high ability math and/or language arts beginning during the kindergarten year. (At the middle school level, students in HA math will also take HA science; students identified for HA language arts will also take HA social studies/humanities. HA high school students participate in a wide array of Advanced Placement courses of their choosing so long as they meet established prerequisites.)   
  • We use both qualitative (characteristics) measures and quantitative measures (test scores) in identification.  
  • We follow national best practice guidelines by using at least three types of measures. 

Who Decides? When Does Identification Take Place?  

  •  An identification committee rather than a single person makes placement decisions based upon students’ needs.
  • At the elementary level, the identification committee is made up of teachers with High Ability endorsements from each school and the HA coordinator.  
  • At the middle school level, the identification committee is made up of High Ability teachers from each middle school and each elementary school, counselors from each middle school and elementary, and the HA coordinator.
  • Elementary and middle school identification processes begin during the winter of each school year and take place over several months’ time. Kindergarten students are officially identified in January/February. All other students are considered during the March-May timeframe and are typically officially notified in June of placement for the following school year

Are students automatically considered for the talent pool?

  • All students in grades Kdg-7th are reconsidered every year for placement the following year. 

What about already-identified HA students? Are they re-identified each year?  

  • Already-identified students are automatically identified for the next school year so long as they have been successful in the HA placement. Students who are identified as math-only or language-arts only are automatically considered each spring for identification in the non-HA area.

Quantitative Measures

  • Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) data: OLSAT scores are a measure of a child’s cognitive skills (or ability to learn) as compared to children of the same age. OLSAT School Ability Index (SAI) scores are reported in three categories:  Overall, Verbal, and Non-verbal. An SAI score of 100 is considered average. An SAI score of 132 is linked to giftedness since it is two standard deviations above the mean. Experts in gifted education believe that the Overall SAI and the Verbal SAI are the best indicators of academic success since academic programs are highly verbal. 


  • Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Primary Measures of Academic Progress (Primary MAP) and MAP test percentile ranks:   The NWEA test has two versions: one which is for primary grade students and one for students who have learned to read for themselves. The Primary MAP test is given to students in kindergarten and first grades. The Primary MAP is taken on the computer with audio and visual supports (meaning it is read aloud to the student).  The other NWEA test (2-5 MAP) is typically given to students who are able to read independently. The NWEA assessments help determine how a child is performing on state standards and as compared to peers. The test is adjusted to the student’s present level automatically and contains a full bank of questions ranging through high school level. Thus, it is a better measure of achievement for high ability students than a grade-level test of standards such as ISTEP+.   Percentile scores on the NWEA test indicate a child’s instructional achievement level in Reading and Math. If a child scores at the 50th percentile that means that his or her scores are equal to or surpass 50% of all other children in the same grade nationwide taking the same test. The 50th percentile is considered average. The committee uses 95th percentile as one indicator to be qualified as a gifted or high ability student. Please remember that having only one indicator does not qualify a child for identification.


  • Since scores change so much during elementary years we consider both achievement and ability scores when making placement recommendations. At the middle school level we consider achievement or ability scores.