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    Advanced Learning FAQ


    • Universal Testing for 2nd grade
    • Teacher Recommendation Process
    • New window for referrals – opening May 15

    Resources and Information: Identifying Students as Potentially Gifted

    1. Why do we provide universal screening for 2nd grade students in Title I and High ELL schools?

    The practice of universal screening at Title schools addresses a critical issue of access and equity. Across our district, not all potentially highly capable students are referred for services. The screening is one mechanism that provides teachers and the district the opportunity to reach out to families who may not otherwise refer a child for our Highly Capable program.

    2. How are underrepresented students screened in non-Title schools?

    Under current rules, all students in grades K-8 are eligible to be tested on the Cognitive Abilities Test if referred by parents/guardians. There is no pre-screening required. Teachers and other community member may recommend students, but parents/guardians must give formal permission for a student to be evaluated, and again to be placed in programs. In addition, the Advanced Learning office will reach out to families of students who have high achievement scores and invite them to apply.

    3. Is this practice of universal screening conducted in other districts?

    Yes. SPS is one of a number of districts, which screen in primary grades. OSPI issued a special commendation to the Seattle Schools Advanced Learning office in 2016 for this initiative, calling it a best practice in the pursuit of equity.

    4. Does the practice of Title I universal screening actually result in a higher number of students taking the full CogAT?

    Yes. In spring 2016, over 100 students who had not previously been referred for Advanced Learning testing performed well enough on the Screening Form to be offered the opportunity to take the full CogAT during the summer for possible eligibility in September.

    5. Why is the referral window moving to the Spring of each year?

    We anticipate that by extending the referral window by more than two months we will increase the number of referrals from underrepresented communities. Robust outreach and referral assistance during this period will contribute to this goal. Teachers who know the students best will have the opportunity to recommend them and provide valuable performance information on a greatly simplified Teacher Rating Scale.

    6. How will the earlier testing window affect referral of new Kindergarten students?

    The window for referrals will be short for new Kindergarteners, since they will not have the opportunity for early referral in the spring. This will require a targeted effort to inform parents about Advanced Learning during the first weeks of school. The Advanced Learning office will provide detailed information to schools in late summer. Parents will need to open a Source account in order to refer their child by the September 22 deadline. Teachers will not be expected to complete the simplified Rating Scale until they are familiar with the child’s behaviors and abilities.

    7. How might a teacher know if a child is demonstrating the potential of being identified as Highly Capable? What characteristics would he/she observe?

    Given the critical relationship teachers develop with students over the course of a learning year, we believe it is important to provide a pathway through which teachers and, eventually, other community partners recommend students, including from traditionally under-represented populations for testing. Along with this effort will come professional development to help teachers understand and recognize characteristics of giftedness across multiple cultures; especially those cultures, races and ethnicities that are currently underrepresented in Highly Capable Services.

    A current research summary has been compiled by the Advanced Learning team. Links to a sampling of source information are provided below . The May 2017 Advanced Learning Bulletin and the website for Advanced Learning provide a comprehensive listing of sites and resources to guide schools in recognizing academic giftedness for students across many cultures and traditionally underrepresented populations in gifted or accelerated programs.

    8. How does the current teacher recommend a child for fall testing?

    A link will be available on PowerSchool for teachers to recommend students in the spring beginning May 15 through September 22, 2017. Using the Teacher Rating Scale, teachers may recommend students they believe have the potential for being identified as academically Highly Capable. Teachers, as part of the recommendation process, should discuss the recommendation with families and encourage the family to refer the child for testing. Only a parent or guardian can authorize the testing. Once recommendations are completed, representatives from the Advanced Learning office will contact parents and invite them to fill out an online referral form on the Source during May and June. Paper forms in eight languages will also be available. More information will be available as the May 15 window for referral approaches.

    9. Is it required for a child who qualifies as Highly Capable to attend one of the Highly Capable Cohort Schools? Do they have to leave their reference area school?

    No. Parents may choose to have their child remain at their attendance area school to be served there. Schools are required to have a plan (ie: School CSIP) in place to provide for the needs of all children, including Highly Capable students. It is important to note that by law, a child who qualifies as “highly capable” is entitled to highly capable services as part of his/her basic education . Services may be provided at the reference area school. However, the child has the option and opportunity to enroll at an ‘HC Site’ upon receiving eligibility status as Highly Capable, and would attend with students who have also been identified and have similar learning needs.

    10. Will professional development be available for teachers to strengthen instructional approaches and planning for the needs of the child above and well above standard?

    The Advanced Learning office has proposed a wide variety of Professional Development classes listed in Employee Self-Service (ESS) under Training and Events. Sample titles include: Strategies for Differentiation and Culturally Responsive Teaching, Working With Advanced Learners at Your Site (Gifted 101), Preparing for Testing of 2nd Graders at Your Site, Social Justice and Differentiated Instruction, Advanced Learning Policy in 2190SP, Creating a Socially Just Learning Environment, Twice Exceptional Learners and SPS.

    In addition, we will be developing new courses aligned to MTSS practices and serving the needs of the Advanced Learner and recognizing giftedness across cultures, as part of our summer and school year course offerings.


    Gifted Characteristics Checklist For Underrepresented Populations 

    CLED Scales (Culturally, Linguistically, and/or Economically Diverse) 

    Talented and Gifted Learners and Special Populations of Gifted Learners 

    RCW 28A.150.220(3)(g)(3) The instructional program of basic education provided by each school district shall include: (g) Programs for highly capable students under RCW 28A.185.010 through 28A.185.030.

    SPS Policy 2190 Superintendent Procedures for Highly Capable/Advanced Learning Seattle Public Schools Policy and Procedures for Highly Capable Students and Advanced Learners