Second grade students will bring home a parent letter in January
that describes the testing, qualifying, and entrance process for the District's gifted/highly capable program options for students in grades 3-5. Three tests are used for qualifying students to these programs—Stanford 10 Achievement test, CogAT cognitive abilities test, and SOI Structure of Intellect creativity test. The Stanford test will be given during a January-February testing window and CogAT and SOI during a March window.
The Issaquah School District offers two programs for gifted and highly capable students in grades three through five.
(Mind Education Right Left Integration) is a self-contained program located at Apollo Elementary (south region) and Endeavour Elementary (north region). Each school offers three MERLIN classes: one in third, fourth, and fifth grade. Students who live in the following attendance areas: Apollo, Briarwood, Clark, Cougar Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Maple Hills, Newcastle, and Sunset will attend Apollo. Students who live in the following attendance areas: Cascade Ridge, Challenger, Creekside, Discovery, Endeavour, Grand Ridge, and Sunny Hills will attend Endeavour. Parents are responsible for transporting MERLIN students to Apollo or Endeavour.
(Special Approach to Gifted Education) is offered at each elementary school. SAGE students leave their regular classrooms for approximately two hours per week to work on a variety of enriching, challenging, and creative problem solving activities. SAGE lessons often enhance general education class lessons. Many SAGE activities are designed around hands-on cooperative learning strategies.
How to qualify
To qualify for MERLIN or SAGE for the following school year, second graders must take the CogAT, a cognitive abilities test, and the SOI, a creative thinking test. In addition, the Stanford 10 achievement test that all District second graders take is the third assessment used to qualify students for these programs. Students take all three assessments during the school year in their regular second grade classrooms. Scores from all three tests (CogAT, SOI, and Stanford 10) are considered to determine placement. Typically, students who score in the top 2 percent or above qualify for MERLIN, and those who score in the top 4 percent qualify for SAGE. All students who qualify for MERLIN automatically qualify for SAGE.
If a "highly capable" student in grades 3-5 is identified or enrolls in the District at any time during the school year, arrangements will be made for that student to take the cognitive abilities and creative thinking tests at the next regularly scheduled assessment window. Although that student may not be able to enter the MERLIN program mid-year, he/she can receive SAGE services upon qualifying.
A multidisciplinary selection committee of qualified District personnel (WAC 392-170-055; 392-170-070) reviews test results, approve selections for the programs, and review placement appeals. They meet in early fall and late spring to determine placement, consider appeals in August, and review students new to the District. Students who enroll in the District mid-year can submit assessment results from their previous district to the Executive Director of Elementary Education and the Director of Assessment.
MERLIN classes are limited to 25 students each. If not enough students qualify outright for MERLIN, the placement committee will consider provisional placements based on rank order of student test scores. Multiple criteria have been established for reviewing eligibility for provisional placement. For students entering the program on provisional status, continued participation in the program is dependent on the student's success in meeting program expectations and requirements. As long as the student is functioning well in the placement, they will remain in the program through 5th grade.
Students qualifying for the SAGE and MERLIN programs will be notified in June of their second grade year.