The Highly Capable Model

Lynden Schools has implemented an evidence-based K-12 Highly Capable model in response to state legislative changes. Instead of a traditional pull-out model, Lynden is designing services around student needs within their neighborhood school.

Lynden identifies students who may be in need of services, using multiple points of data including but not limited to assessments, IQ testing and referrals. Students may be referred yearly during the spring referral window. Information regarding the referral process can be found on the district website. Referrals can be made by families, school staff or community members. 

“This is a small group of students who have unique needs,” says Elizabeth Hamming, Lynden’s director of curriculum. “They still need instruction, but they need that instruction in unique ways and at unique rates. Because of historical highly capable models, there can be a misunderstanding about how to meet the needs of these students appropriately.” 

Individual Learning Plans are created for each student in partnership with families and school staff. This process provides an opportunity for parents to provide input on student goals, ask questions and receive information on additional community opportunities of interest to the student. 

Whenever possible students are grouped together in classrooms providing an opportunity to partner with intellectual peers. This process of “cluster grouping” enables students to work with peers who learn and process in similar ways and at similar rates. “It is these students’ processing styles, not their age that creates their intellectual peer group,” Hamming says. 

Specialists in each K-5 school support the teachers with identified students, providing them with targeted resources and strategies in math and English language arts. Middle school students have additional opportunities in STEM. High School students have multiple opportunities: AP courses, accelerated course sequences and College in the High School.  

Along with the differentiated learning opportunities throughout the school year, the program also hosts parent nights — the next is scheduled for Jan. 7 — where speakers present on topics requested by families. “We survey families to determine what topics they may be interested in,” says Megan Dickson, the program’s director.