Glossary of Terms


Acceleration: Used when a student demonstrates competencies, knowledge, abilities, and/or skills which exceed that which is outlined in the planned course curriculum for their chronological age or grade placement level. This can be demonstrated in the classroom or by pre or diagnostic tests in the skill areas (example: IOWA Acceleration Scales).

Achievement Tests: A test that measures what students have learned or have been taught in a specific content area relative to the expected achievement of average students. Example: Smarter Balance Assessment (SBA), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

Advanced Placement (AP): A program developed by the College Board where high schools offer courses that meet criteria established by institutions of higher education.  In many instances, college credit may be earned with the successful completion of an AP exam in specific content areas.

Asynchrony: A term used to describe disparate rates of intellectual, emotional, and physical rates of growth or development often displayed by highly capable/gifted children. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy: Developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, the taxonomy is often used to develop curriculum for highly capable/gifted children. There are six levels within the taxonomy that move from basic to high levels of thinking. These include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Ceiling effect: The compression of top scores on a test. For example, if a group IQ test can only measure reliably to 130, then a student with an IQ of 160 (if measured by some other test) may only score 130 due to the ceiling effect of the group test. Group intelligence tests often have low ceilings, so a relatively low IQ score, perhaps 115, could be accepted as evidence of potential giftedness.

Cluster Grouping:  A grouping assignment for highly capable/gifted students in the regular heterogeneous classroom.  Typically, highly capable/ gifted students with similar needs, abilities, or interests are “clustered” in the same classroom, which allows the teacher to more effectively differentiate assignments for a group of advanced learners rather than just one or two students.

College in the High School: The University of Washington (UW) partners with the Sequim School District to offer UW courses for UW credit in the high school classroom. Teachers have been approved and trained by UW faculty.

Compacting:  An instructional technique that allows teachers to adjust curriculum for students by determining which students already have mastered most or all of the learning outcomes and provide replacement instruction or activities that enable a more challenging and productive use of the student’s time.

Dabrowski’s Overexcitibilities: Research by Dabrowski showing how highly capable/gifted individuals were extremely sensitive in five areas (a stimulus-response difference from the norms) such that a highly capable/gifted person reacts more strongly than normal, for a longer period than normal, to a stimulus that may be very small. It involves not just psychological factors but central nervous system sensitivity.  The five areas are:

  • Psychomotor (the person needs lots of movement and athletic activity, or has trouble smoothing out the mind's activities for sleeping, and has lots of physical energy and movement, fast-talking, lots of gestures, sometimes nervous tics);
  • Sensual (the "cut the label out of the shirt" demand, a love for sensory things – textures, smells, tastes etc. or a powerful reaction to negative sensory input such as bad smells, loud sounds, etc., aesthetic awareness – awed to breathlessness at the sight of a beautiful sunset or cries hearing Mozart, etc.);
  • Imaginational (person is a daydreamer, strong visual thinker, reacts strongly to dreams);
  • Intellectual (person with strong academics, logical thinking, complex reasoning, good at cognitive games);
  • Emotional (intensity of emotion, a broad range of emotions, need for deep connections with other people or animals, inventing imaginary friends, deep empathy and compassion, susceptibility to depression). Highly gifted people tend to have all 5, but different people lead with different OE's (e.g. engineer leads with Intellectual, poets with Emotional and Imaginational, etc.). Variations in the levels of the individual OE's explain a great deal about temperamental differences.  These five OE’s describe the unusual intensity of the gifted as well as the many ways in which they look and behave "oddly" when compared to norms.

Differentiation:  The process of tailoring instruction to meet individual student’s readiness, interests, and learning preferences. Teachers can differentiate instruction through content, process, product, and learning environment.

Depth of Knowledge (DOK): Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels categorizes tasks according to the complexity of thinking required to successfully complete them. Level 1 is Recall & Reproduction, Level 2 is Skills & Concepts, Level 3 is Strategic Thinking, and Level 4 is Extended Thinking.

Dual enrollment: Enrollment in two levels of schooling simultaneously; application of credits varies.  Commonly used for high school students who concurrently take college courses, for at least high school credit.

Early entrance: Entrance to any program before the normally scheduled time.

Enrichment: Activities that enhance or extend beyond the existing curriculum.

Extension Menu: A selection of topics from which a student can choose to pursue an independent study that extends learning beyond already mastered content standards.

Flexible grouping: An instructional strategy where students are grouped together to receive appropriately challenging instruction.  True flexible grouping permits students to move in and out of various grouping patterns, depending on the course content. Grouping can be determined by ability, size, and/or interest.

Honors Courses: Courses offered at the Middle School and High School for high achievers. These are usually planned to motivate the intellectually highly capable/gifted learner. The content is broader, the curriculum is accelerated, and the instructor carefully selected.

Independent Study: A self-directed learning strategy where the teacher acts as a guide or facilitator and the student plays a more active role in designing and managing their own learning, often on a topic of special interest to the student.  

Intelligence Quotient (IQ): A numerical representation of intelligence. IQ is derived from dividing mental age (result from an intelligence test) by the chronological age times 100. Traditionally, an average IQ is considered to be 100.

Learning Centers: Teacher planned tiered activities based upon student assessment data that includes multi-level resources enabling students to challenge themselves accordingly.

Mentorships: A student may work with a professional in their field to learn about a career or subject.

Percentile Ran: Percentiles are not the same as percent correct! Percentile is an age-based or grade-based rank indicating the percent of the norm group of students tested who scored less than the student. 85th percentile means only that 85 percent of students tested scored lower than the subject, not that the subject got 85% of the questions correct. Percentile scores are easily correlated to standard or IQ scores: 97th percentile is the same as standard or IQ score of 130 or above. For large populations, percentiles are an easy way to compare one child to age/grade peers.

**Note: a side effect of percentile scoring is that as more and more of the population that is being tested answer all the questions correctly on the test or any sub-test, the lower their percentile scores will become. This is particularly obvious in a small population sample such as the local percentiles, which may compare your child only to others in the same school and grade.

Perfectionism: The desire to execute tasks flawlessly. Highly Capable/Gifted children may develop perfectionism after entering school, as they perform better than their classmates. Later, such perfectionism may lead to avoiding challenges so as not to appear imperfect.

Problem-based Learning: A curriculum and instruction model that asks students to solve real-world, complex, or open-ended problems by using research, decision-making, creative and critical thinking, and other 21st-century skills. There often is no one correct answer and students jointly set goals and objectives with the teacher.

Project-based Learning: A teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Students explore real-world problems and find answers through the completion of a project. The goals are set.

Pull-out Program: A program which takes a student out of the regular classroom during the school day for special programming. 

Push-In Program: The Highly Capable Program Coordinator provides instruction in the general classroom.

Questioning Strategies: Higher level questions involve the ability to analyze, evaluate, or create and are most appropriate for encouraging students to think more deeply and critically. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical system for ordering thinking skills from lower to higher, where each level requires a student’s mastery of the skills below it.

Running Start: Academically motivated high school juniors or seniors may be able to take college courses at Peninsula College tuition free, earning credit for both high school and college.

Social-Emotional Needs: Highly Capable/Gifted and Talented students may have affective needs that include heightened or unusual sensitivity to self-awareness, emotions, and expectations of themselves or others, and a sense of justice, moral judgment, or altruism. Counselors working in this area may address issues such as perfectionism, depression, underachievement or career planning.

Stanine: Another representation of the percentile score. Stanine divides the percentiles into 9 divisions, with the 4, 5 and 6th stanine considered average, 7th and 8th stanine considered above average, and 9th stanine considered very much above average. The percentage of test scores in each stanine is as follows:


Percent of Scores




0th - 3rd



4th - 10th



11th - 22nd



23rd - 39th



40th - 59th



60th - 76th



77th - 88th



89th - 95th



96th and higher

Instruction that entails less time than is normal (e. g., completing a one-year course in one semester, or three years of middle school in two). Telescoping differs from curriculum compacting in that time saved from telescoping always results in advanced grade placement. 

Tiered Assignments: The content and objectives remain the same, but the tasks/activities are varied according to the students’ readiness level, background knowledge, and skills related to the learning objective. There are six main ways to structure tiered assignments: challenge level, complexity, outcome, process, product, or resources.

Twice Exceptional: A term used to describe a student that is both highly capable/gifted and physically or learning disabled.  These students may also be referred to as having dual exceptionalities or as being 2E.

Underachieving or Underachievement: A term used to describe the discrepancy between a student’s performance and their potential and/or ability to perform at a much higher level as indicated by their standardized test scores.