Skip Navigation
“We are ACA. We empower our community with knowledge, spirit and service”  

Click here for our program brochure.

Highly Capable Program Mission - Vision - Objectives 

Arizona Cultural Academy collectively commits to support a purposeful continuum of services for a diverse group of highly capable learners to develop each individual’s fullest potential.

Students who are identified as Highly Capable at Arizona Cultural Academy:
  • learn new material faster, tend to put ideas together in an unusual way and/or at an earlier age.
  • demonstrate capacity to deal with increasing levels of abstract and complex concepts.
  • demonstrate ability to learn quickly in their area(s) of intellectual strength.
  • show potential to perform at significantly advanced academic levels with the capacity for intense concentration and/or focus.
  • exhibit creative ability to make unusual connections among ideas and concepts.
Each highly capable student will be provided with opportunities that:
  • encourage divergent thinking, creative problem-solving, and higher-level thinking at an accelerated rate.
  • allow for self-directed learning experiences with students of like abilities.
  • promote a healthy self-concept relative to their giftedness.
  • assure students’ academic growth aligns with their aptitude.

Highly Capable Program Overview

Arizona Cultural Academy and the state of Arizona describe Highly Capable students as students who possess “outstanding talent and perform or show potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments.” According to the U.S. Department of State:

 
There exists no generally accepted and broadly agreed upon definition of giftedness, as there are for disabilities of many kinds. This is perhaps just as well, because gifted children are as varied a group of human beings as exists on the face of the earth. They differ among themselves in the domains and levels of their abilities, in their learning approaches and temperaments, in their motivations and efficiency of organization - in every aspect/facet of human behavior. They also differ markedly within themselves - the asynchrony of their development being a hallmark of giftedness. Some are more gifted in math/science, some in more verbal areas; some are more creative and fluid in their thinking, while others are more analytic and "linear," and they may differ in these characteristics from domain to domain. Most are more advanced intellectually than they are physically, with social-emotional development somewhere in between, but there is a great deal of variation in maturity levels from one gifted student to another, even of the same age. In international schools, mastery of English and of writing may also vary not because of "native ability" but because of previous experience. 

What are common differences between highly capable and high achieving students? Click to find out more...

 

REFERRALS
 

Referrals by Parents or Guardians

Arizona Cultural Academy’s Highly Capable identification process begins by referring a student for consideration. Once identified, students in K-12 are provided opportunities to: engage in divergent thinking, creative problem-solving, and higher-level thinking at an accelerated rate; engage in self-directed learning experiences with students of like abilities; develop healthy self-concepts relative to their giftedness; and, grow academically in alignment with their aptitudes. Opportunities are provided through a continuum of services.

Referrals by Community Members

Any community member who knows a child may refer the child to participate in the identification process. However, a child’s parents or guardians must formally allow their child to participate in Highly Capable identification testing and, if identified, must also request placement in Highly Capable program services.

Previously Identified Students - New to Arizona Cultural Academy

Students new to Arizona Cultural Academy who have been identified as Highly Capable by another school within the last 12 months may request immediate placement in Highly Capable services.

 

CONTINUUM OF SERVICES

 
Third through Fifth Grade

Students identified in grades 3-5 are provided opportunities designed to identify and build on students’ specific strengths and to nurture their potential so that their advanced academic ability has the opportunity to develop. Educational opportunities for each identified student will be designed by the homeroom teacher in collaboration with relevant staff and families. They may include differentiated curriculum and/or instruction in the classroom, cluster grouping, and/or accelerated content area instruction for all or part of the day.

Sixth through Eighth Grade

Students identified in grades 6-8 are provided opportunities designed to identify and build on students’ specific strengths and to nurture their potential so that their advanced academic ability has the opportunity to develop. Educational opportunities for each identified student will be designed by teachers in core classrooms in collaboration with relevant staff and families. They may include differentiated curriculum and/or instruction in the classroom, cluster grouping, and/or accelerated/advanced independent study programs for all or part of the day.

Ninth through Twelfth Grade

All students in grades 9-12 may self-select opportunities for challenge and enrichment. The high school has opportunities for students through dual-enrollment in college coursework in conjunction with South Mountain Community College.

 

Student Identification

 

HIGHLY CAPABLE STUDENT - DEFINITION

Highly capable students are students who possess “outstanding talent and perform or show potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments.” Outstanding abilities are seen within students’ general intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, and/or creative productivities within a specific domain. These students are present not only in the general populace but are present within all protected classes.

 
Arizona Cultural Academy uses a three-step procedure to identify and serve its Highly Capable students.
 

Step 1: Referral

Step 2: Identification

Step 3: Participation
 

STEP 1: REFERRAL
Parents and Guardians

Any parent or guardian may refer their child to participate in the identification process. To refer your child to proceed to step 2 (identification), complete an Arizona Cultural Academy referral form.

 
Community Members

Any community member that knows a child may refer the child to participate in the identification process. To refer a child to proceed to step 2 (identification), an individual must complete an Arizona Cultural Academy referral form. However, a child’s parents or guardians must allow their child to participate in step 2.

 
Previously Identified Students – New to Arizona Cultural Academy

Students new to Arizona Cultural Academy who have been identified as Highly Capable and received Highly Capable services by another school in the prior school year may request immediate acceptance into Arizona Cultural Academy’s Highly Capable Program. They do not need to complete the referral and identification steps. Students who have been identified or did not receive Highly Capable services in the prior school year must follow all the referral and identification steps.

 

IMPORTANT: Referrals must be returned to the address on the form on or before December 1.

FORMS

Parent/Guardian Referral Form

Community Member Referral Form

STEP 2: IDENTIFICATION

Arizona Cultural Academy uses multiple measures to identify students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. These measures include standardized cognitive ability tests, state or national achievement tests, and teacher observation.

Recent achievement and cognitive ability data is needed to make more accurate evaluations of students’ current performance and future potential. Achievement data for all referred students is reviewed first before students are asked to participate in additional testing. If no achievement data is available to review, such as for new students or grade 2 students, students participate in cognitive ability testing before achievement data is collected.

If either a student’s achievement or cognitive ability testing suggests the student will meet the definition of a Highly Capable student, then students are invited to participate in additional testing with the permission of their parents or guardians. If either a student’s achievement or cognitive ability testing suggests the student will NOT meet the definition of a Highly Capable student then no further testing or information is collected.

When a student’s achievement and cognitive ability results together suggest they may meet the Highly Capable definition then their results and their teachers’ observation are reviewed by a small committee of Arizona Cultural Academy staff. The committee makes decisions on which students meet the Highly Capable definition based on all of the information available.

Below is a table of the measures used. Academic achievement testing is completed by all students regularly enrolled in Arizona Cultural Academy. Cognitive ability testing is scheduled as needed.

 

Academic Achievement

Cognitive Ability

English
Math
Verbal/Quantitative/Nonverbal
MAP
MAP
CogAT7
ACT Aspire
ACT Aspire
 
Three years of course grades
Three years of course grades

 

STEP 3: PARTICIPATION

Letters are mailed to the parents of students who participated in Step 2 (Identification) indicating whether or not the student has been identified as eligible for services through the Highly Capable Program. Families will be asked if they would like to participate in the school’s Highly Capable programs, as available. All students identified as Highly Capable will be provided educational opportunities that take into account their particular needs and capabilities.

 
Parents/legal guardians have the right to appeal the school’s Highly Capable decision.

Individuals appealing the selection committee’s decision must submit a completed appeals form or letter requesting a review of selection/placement decision. The written request must be provided within three weeks of the parent/legal guardian’s receipt of the decision, including reasons for the appeal and provide additional evidence of significantly advanced cognitive or academic levels and/or outstanding intellectual, academic, or creative abilities.

 

Appeals Form

Arizona Cultural Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to all designated youth groups.

 

Highly Capable Eligibility Criteria

Grade Level

Eligibility Data

Services

2-8
*Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT-7) AND MAP Assessment data in Reading and Math AND ACT Aspire data for grades 4 and up.
Individualized Student Learning Plan in general education classroom created by classroom teacher and parent/guardian.
9-12
*Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT-7) AND MAP Assessment data in Reading and Math AND ACT Aspire data.
Individualized Student Learning Plan in general education classroom created by classroom teacher and parent/guardian.
Advanced coursework generally includes dual enrollment courses.
 

Exit Process

The exit process may be initiated for students who no longer demonstrate a need for highly capable program services. A request may be made by a teacher or program administrator for highly capable student identification and placement discontinuation. The Multi-Disciplinary Selection Committee will convene a meeting to review the student’s profile to determine if the student qualifies for program services based on assessment data and selection criteria. The multi-disciplinary selection committee may request additional evidence of student capabilities and/or willingness to participate in the program. If the committee determines that the student no longer qualifies for highly capable program services, it may be recommended that the student is exited from the program. The parent will be notified in writing of the committee’s decision and of the appeal process.

A parent/legal guardian may request that the student be withdrawn from the program or a student may voluntarily withdraw from the program. If the parent/legal guardian desires to withdraw the student from the program, the student will be exited from the program.

 

Highly Capable Student Identification Measures

 

Cognitive Abilities Test Form 7

CogAT 7 measures three separate cognitive domains for a more complete perspective on a student’s reasoning abilities. No reading is required for younger students; pictures are used instead of text and the test questions are read aloud to students.

 

Verbal

The Verbal section is comprised of Picture Analogies OR Verbal Analogies.

Quantitative

The Quantitative section is comprised of Number Analogies.

Nonverbal

The Nonverbal section is comprised of Figure Matrices.

Teacher Rating Scale (Teacher Recommendation Form)

The Slocumb-Payne Teacher Rating Scale is designed to help guide the teacher in identifying gifted students. The scale measures different academic and social/affective components of giftedness.

 

NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)

These computerized tests are adaptive and offered in reading and mathematics. Question difficulty is based on how well a student answers previous questions. These tests provide useful information about a student’s strengths and weaknesses in both reading and math, help teachers determine a student’s current achievement level and develop a plan for growth, and are excellent predictors of student success on state-mandated assessments.

 

ACT Aspire English and Math

This assessment is taken at the end of the year in grades 3 - 10. The summative assessment is administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year. It describes both student achievement and growth of student learning and provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of students’ progress toward, and attainment of the knowledge and skills required to be college- and career-ready.

 

Highly Capable Nomination and Identification Timeline

REFERRAL AND IDENTIFICATION PROCESS WINDOWS

Referral Window

Identification

Participation

October 1 – March 1
November - April
Starting September of following year

 

Referral Detail

Referral forms are accepted from October 1 until March 1. Student data are reviewed upon receipt of the referral. Parent/guardians will be informed if their child was referred and then requested to provide permission if additional testing is needed. The identification committee meets in January to review referrals for students new to Arizona Cultural Academy and in April for returning students. Parents are sent letters 2 – 3 weeks after the committee has all of the information needed to make a decision. There can be a long period of time between the date the referral form is received and the date when the committee has enough information to make a decision, depending on when a student’s testing is completed.

The committee’s letter will include the decision and the individual student’s test results. Parents/guardians will also be provided information about the appeals process or how to request participation in programs as applicable. Parents agree to participation in the programs in order to participate. Enrollment in the programs normally begins in September of the following school year.

Students new to the Arizona Cultural Academy who have been identified as Highly Capable and received Highly Capable services in another school district in the prior school year may request immediate placement in the program. They do not need to complete the referral and identification steps.

The Arizona Cultural Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to other designated youth groups.

Welcome