According to the Indiana State Board of Education (511 IAC 6-9.1-1 Definitions), a high ability student is one who:

(1) performs at, or shows the potential for performing at, an outstanding level of accomplishment in at least one domain when compared to other students of the same age, experience, or environment; and (2) is characterized by exceptional gifts, talents, motivation, or interests.


There are some important distinctions between high ability students and those who are “great students” or “need a challenge.” Whereas high achieving students most frequently benefit from differentiated instruction with grade-level content, high ability students require significantly more breadth and depth in their instruction, either through acceleration (above grade-level content) or enrichment (a deeper, creative, critical approach to grade-level content).

High achieving students… High ability students…
remember the answers. pose unforeseen questions.
get “A”s. may not be motivated by grades.
are interested. are curious.
are attentive. are selectively mentally engaged.
generate advanced ideas. generate complex, abstract ideas.
work hard to achieve. know without working hard.
answer the questions in detail. ponder with depth and multiple perspectives.
perform at the top of the group. are beyond the group.
learn with ease. already know.
need 6-8 repetitions to master. need 1-3 repetitions to master.
enjoy the company of age peers. prefer the company of intellectual peers.
grasp the meaning. infer and connect concepts.
are receptive. are intense.
are accurate and complete. are original and continually developing.
enjoy school often. enjoy self-directed learning.
are technicians with expertise in a field. are experts who abstract beyond a field.
memorize well. guess and infer well.
are pleased with own learning. are self-critical.

Kingore, B. (Spring 2004). “High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker.” Understanding our Gifted. www.bertiekingore.com


In R-BB, all students are considered for high ability identification. This consideration includes both quantitative (tests that provide a numerical score) and qualitative (tests that provide evidence of student achievement) measures to assess both student performance (achievement) and potential (ability). These tools allow us to identify high ability students in two core content areas: English Language Arts and Mathematics.

In kindergarten, first, and second grades, we use quantitative measures (Cognitive Aptitude Test (CogAT) screening tool, iReady, and AIMS) and qualitative measures (Scales for Identifying Gifted Students (SIGS) and student work samples) to find students who are demonstrating the potential for high ability instruction. 

Our formal high ability identification process begins in second grade, when all students take the full-battery CogAT assessment. All students take this assessment again in fifth grade. Depending on a student’s score on this assessment, additional tools are used to determine whether formal high ability identification is appropriate. Because high ability identification is intended to be permanent, we aim to be rigorous in our assessments and consistent in our identification procedures. To view these procedures, please click here.

Students coming to R-BB who were identified as high ability in another school corporation may transfer their identification to R-BB, provided the identification process of their previous school corporation is consistent with that of R-BB. Incoming families should notify their building principal(s) and/or the corporation’s high ability director to inform them of a previous high ability identification. If the former corporation’s identification process is not consistent with R-BB, the student will undergo the identification process in R-BB prior to identification.

If a student is not identified as high ability through R-BB’s formal identification process, a parent or school staff member can apply for an appeal. To initiate this process, that individual should contact the building principal or high ability director.


Kindergarten-Second Grade (Edgewood Primary School)

In these grades, students who demonstrate such potential receive differentiation through modified classroom instruction, WIN Time (Junior Great Books), and/or Questions Club, a creative problem-solving group that meets during the school day. Contact the building level principal for more information about high ability programming at EPS.

Third-Fifth Grades (Edgewood Intermediate School)

Students identified as high ability through the formal process in second grade are clustered together within a classroom or in a self-contained high ability classroom, depending on the number of students identified in the grade level. These students receive substantially differentiated instruction according to need for breadth and depth in their instruction, either through acceleration (above grade-level content) or enrichment (a deeper, creative, critical approach to grade-level content). Contact the building level principal for more information about high ability programming at EIS.

Sixth-Eighth Grades (Edgewood Junior High School)

Students identified as high ability through the formal process in second or fifth grade are placed in Honors classes (math, language arts, science, and/or social studies) at the junior high according to need for breadth and depth in their instruction, either through acceleration (above grade-level content) or enrichment (a deeper, creative, critical approach to grade-level content). Contact the building level principal for more information about high ability programming at EJHS.

Ninth-Twelfth Grades (Edgewood High School)

High ability students are placed in Honors, AP (Advanced Placement), or ACP (Advanced College Placement) courses at the high school according to need for breadth and depth in their instruction, either through acceleration (above grade-level content) or enrichment (a deeper, creative, critical approach to grade-level content). Contact the building level principal for more information about high ability programming at EHS.


Exit procedures can be initiated if/when a student is not benefitting from the high ability services provided.  Students who are not successful with high ability placement may be exited from programming at any time. This process may be initiated by the school or by the parent. A committee consisting of the parent, teacher,  school administrator/counselor, and high ability coordinator will meet to first establish a plan for intervention to help the student achieve success in the high ability program. Improvement steps will be identified, a timeline will be set for completion, and then the committee will reconvene to determine the success of the plan. If improvements have been made, additional supports can be added if necessary to continue the placement. If the interventions have not assisted the student in being successful, then the student may be exited from the program. A parent wanting to initiate exit procedures should contact the building principal and/or the high ability director.


What does high ability mean?

High ability is an educational term designated for youth who perform at or demonstrate the potential for performing at an exceptional level of accomplishment in one or multiple areas and is characterized by exceptional gifts, talents, motivation, or interests. Students who are identified as high ability are not necessarily the same as students who are “good at school” or “hard-working”; they demonstrate an innate ability to master concepts quickly and deeply. Students cannot study more or “test prep” to become high ability; it is an unchangeable characteristic that transcends gender, race, disability, and socioeconomic class. Students might demonstrate high ability in one content area but not in others. The state of Indiana requires schools to identify and serve students gifted in mathematics and language arts, but giftedness comes in a multitude of forms.

 

How does Richland-Bean Blossom identify high ability students?

All students are screened for indicators of high ability in kindergarten, second, and fifth grades through the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), which measures problem solving and pattern-finding abilities in verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative categories. Students scoring nationally in the 96th-99th percentile are identified as students in need of high ability services. Students scoring in the 80th-95th percentile complete a second, norm-referenced assessment and are identified as high ability if their resulting score is at the 96th percentile or above. In junior high and high school, students not previously identified as high ability at the elementary level work with their counselors and staff to determine high ability identification and the most appropriate coursework to meet a student’s level of need and help achieve curricular goals. At all grade levels, teacher input can be a part of the process for high ability identification and parents/guardians can follow the district’s appeal process if they believe their student has not been identified correctly.

 

What do high ability students need?

High ability students frequently begin a grade level already having mastery over 50% or more of the curriculum that will be taught over the course of the year. Therefore, these students need a combination of additional breadth and depth in their educational content. Breadth means that a student might need access to more content than their grade level peers, whereas depth involves critical and creative thinking. Importantly, high ability students must be surrounded by peers who share their ability to think broadly and deeply.

 

What does high ability education look like in the Richland-Bean Blossom schools?

At Edgewood Primary and Intermediate schools, identified high ability students are clustered together in classrooms. The classroom teacher differentiates the curriculum accordingly so that the breadth and depth needs of high ability students are met. Edgewood Junior High and High School students are directed to courses that best serve their advanced needs for high ability differentiation. Students identified as high ability at the elementary level are directed toward secondary classes that match their area(s) of identification, but classes that demonstrate a higher degree of difficulty (e.g AP and ACP coursework in high school) are not necessarily limited to students who have previously been identified as high ability. Any secondary student, with the guidance and approval of school counselors and administration, can pursue such coursework. 

 

Does an identified student have to participate in high ability classes? 

Can an identified high ability student be dismissed from the program?

A student’s high ability identification is permanent, but an identified student is not required to participate in the high ability program. High ability instruction must be offered to all identified students. A family can request that an identified high ability student be dismissed from high ability services. This typically occurs when a student is struggling to meet the rigor of high ability programs, though the request can be made for any reason. A family should follow the district’s procedure for dismissal in this case but should first share initial concerns with the classroom teacher to see what accommodations can be made for the student’s success.

 

I want my student to be identified high ability because they won’t be challenged enough if they’re not.

I want my student to be identified high ability because they need to be pushed.

It’s our responsibility as educators to differentiate instruction for every student, regardless of high ability identification. If you believe your student needs more rigorous instruction, we encourage you to initiate a conversation with your classroom teacher. Research consistently shows, though, that it is detrimental for students who do not demonstrate high ability traits (the ability to master content not only quickly but deeply) to receive high ability instruction. High ability education isn’t a “push” or a “challenge” for students who succeed through hard work; it’s a service provided for students who need it.

 

I want my student to be identified high ability because that’s where the well-behaved students are.

The minds of high ability students often come with complex emotions, including an enhanced sense of justice, difficulties in navigating social situations, and deep understandings of issues which often cause them to retreat or withdraw, act out, or challenge authority. Far from being models of good behavior, high ability students frequently require help in this regard. “High ability” and “good student” are not phrases to use interchangeably.