Proud to Teach for Tomorrow

20650 Glenn St Elkhorn, NE 68022
Phone: 402-289-2579

High Ability Learner Education

Board of Education Policy for High Ability Learners

The District recognizes the individual characteristics of students and strives to advance to the fullest all aspects of each student’s development.

“High ability learners are those students who give evidence of high performance capability in such areas as intellectual/academic, creative, or artistic capacity and who require accelerated or differentiated curriculum programs in order to develop those capabilities fully.”

The Board directs the Superintendent to develop selection methods, regulations and procedures to ensure that appropriate programs, within budgetary limitations, are provided for high ability learners. The Board also expects the Superintendent and his staff to inform patrons of the District about available high ability learner program options.

Adopted September 14, 1998 


The Elkhorn Public Schools are committed to an educational program that recognizes the unique characteristics of the student and strives to advance to the fullest all aspects of the student’s development.


High ability learner education is designed to extend the learning environment for high potential students. Services are defined as being expanded learning experiences for students who are capable of studying in-depth matters of an academic and creative nature.


The District shall attempt to provide educational experiences for students through the following goals:

  1. Assessing and identifying students of high academic ability third through grade twelve.
  2. Providing services for identified students that incorporate curriculum modifications/accommodations, teaching methods, activities, and/or instructional materials to meet the needs of high ability learners.
  3. Communicating the various aspects and successes of the program for high ability learners to staff, students, parents, and the community.
  4. Evaluating program goals, activities, materials and procedures.
  5. Recognizing and nurturing educational excellence.


Phase I – Screening

Identify all of the students who have one of the following characteristics:

  • 120 or above on a Scholastic Aptitude Measure
  • Achievement level total composite of 95% or higher on a standardized achievement test
  • Achievement level of 96% or higher on any sub test of a standardized achievement test in the areas of total reading, language arts, or mathematics
  • Nomination(s) by teacher, parent, self, or peer using a specific list of characteristics

Phase II – Analysis

With the students who have been identified in Phase I, further analysis of abilities is conducted using one or more of the following methods:

  • Past performance
  • Product analysis
  • Personal interview
  • The identification process shall include multiple criteria in an effort to be inclusive rather than exclusive.  This process shall be based on a combination of standardized instruments and non-standardized means and criteria.

Phase III – Placement and Participation

Placement and continued participation will be based on the following characteristics:

  • Score at or above the 98th percentile on an approved individual intelligence test;
  • Score at or above the 96th percentile on a standardized achievement test in the areas of total reading, language arts, or mathematics or;
  • Score at or above the 95th percentile on a total composite on any group administered standardized achievement test; and/or;
  • Evidence of the ability or potential for advanced academic studies, creativity/productive thinking, and achievement motivation; and
  • Parent, school administrator, teacher(s), and student consent.
  • Other appropriate instruments/methods
    (Alternative assessment for placement methods is considered for program participation.)

Students are continually evaluated and parents can learn about student progress through conferences with teachers as well as through formal periodic progress reporting. Parents should feel free to contact a high ability learner coordinator and the classroom teacher(s) to discuss their child’s school program.

Regular classroom teachers have the responsibility to refer students to the program services when it is determined the student would benefit from advanced level instructional methods and curriculum content.



Early Elementary
Children in kindergarten, first, and second grades are served primarily in the regular classroom with consulting services provided to the classroom teacher by an elementary coordinator. Whole class and small group sessions are planned in collaboration with the classroom teacher.

Upper Elementary
Students in grades three through five who demonstrate high potential or performance in their academic programs have the opportunity to participate in many activities designed to challenge their abilities. Programs for high potential students include literature groups, math and logic activities, creative problem solving and small group seminars on topics developed from student interest or as an extension of the general education curriculum.  A Thinking Skills curriculum (Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, Creative Dramatics and Affective Awareness/Leadership) is incorporated on a weekly basis with students in grades three through five.  Academic competitions are conducted in cooperation with grade level teachers.  Flexible grouping and curriculum compacting is utilized to accommodate the needs and abilities of students.

Middle School
The goal of the middle school HALE program is to recognize each student’s unique characteristics and create expanded learning experiences for each student.  Working together with the classroom teachers, we provide three forms of services to HALE students: classroom differentiation, seminars/independent studies, and competitions. Seminars and independent studies focus on creativity, creative dramatics, leadership, critical thinking, research and questioning skills. The competitions offered include SIGMA (math based), History Day, Future Cities, Current Events, Geography Bee, and Quiz Bowl.

High School
At the high school level, students are invited to participate in honors classes offered by the English, science and mathematics departments. Students in grades 10 through 12 have the opportunity to enroll in advanced placement classes in English, mathematics, history and science. Academic competitions that challenge and enrich individual areas of high ability are also available.  Such competitions include Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial, Math Field Day, TEAMS, American High School Mathematics Competition, Quiz Bowl Teams, Sigma, Destination Imagination and Science Olympiad.

HALE Seminar courses are taught by the HALE coordinator. Socratic methodology is used to challenge students to explore issues and develop understanding through dialogue.  This class focuses on the affective needs of high ability students by developing awareness of gifted characteristics, personality types, learning styles and multiple intelligences.  Participation in the Future Problem Solving competition is used to develop creative thinking, critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Career and college exploration guides students toward setting personal goals and prepares them for college visitations and the application process.  The leadership unit defines five dimensions of leadership and provides students with an assessment of their leadership skills.  Master student skills, such as time management, note taking and test taking are addressed to help students succeed in rigorous honors and Advanced Placement classes.

At all levels, classroom teachers, building coordinators and other specialists strive to assess student potential and design options to enhance student learning.

For more information please contact Lee Frye, Director of Student Services at (402) 289-2579.