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‘Highly capable’ program studied

If a proposal is adopted, high-achieving students in elementary and middle schools could soon enjoy more opportunities for advanced studies.

The Oak Harbor School District is considering instituting a “Highly Capable Program” that would change the way gifted students attend school.

“These students often struggle with boredom or motivation when it comes to their studies,” said Dave Peterson, assistant superintendent. “We have to challenge them or we risk losing them.”

At elementary schools in the district, plans call for expanding the ACE program which is currently housed at Broad View Elementary School. Students qualifying for that program are transported to Broad View from throughout the district and receive specialized instruction.

Peterson said the program would be available for the top 5 percent to 10 percent of the student population.

The school district would also develop a gifted class for the top 2 percent of the students. Eligible students would be grouped together at one school. The students would be divided into two classes with older students grouped in one class and younger students in the other. Peterson said the two teachers would work together to ensure the students’ academic needs are met.

At the middle school, the plan calls for eligible students to move through grade levels as a team and receive accelerated instruction. By the time they are in the eighth grade, they can qualify for high school credit in science and math. Highly capable students would also share the same counselor throughout middle school. A maximum of 30 students in each grade level would be allowed to participate, according to a news release from the Oak Harbor School District.

There aren’t many changes in store at Oak Harbor High School because students can already take advantage of Advanced Placement classes and the Running Start program.

Plans do call for having a high school counselor focus on highly capable students, Peterson said. Currently students are assigned a counselor based on their last names.

Peterson said that internship and mentorship opportunities at the high school will also be strengthened.

He added that the Highly Capable Program would be cost neutral.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com or call (360) 675-6611.

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