HiCap FAQs

This page contains answers to commonly-asked questions about Highly Capable Services at Northshore School District. We regularly make additions to this page to reflect the needs of our parent community. This page was last updated on Friday, September 20. 

Note: Algebra Readiness testing is administered by the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (CIA) Department. If you have questions regarding Algebra Readiness testing, visit the CIA Department's Frequently Asked Questions page: Algebra Readiness FAQ

General Questions

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction is defined as a way of teaching in which teachers anticipate and respond to a variety of student needs in the classroom. To meet students’ needs, teachers may differentiate by modifying one or more of the following:

  • Content (what is being taught)
  • Process (how it is taught)
  • Product (how students demonstrate their learning)

In a differentiated classroom, the teacher is constantly doing quick, formative assessments to determine the on-going needs of students and where the instruction might be modified to ensure student learning is happening. The instruction that is developed as a response to assessment will look different depending on student need.

When possible, a classroom teacher may choose to group students who demonstrate advanced learner needs together for instructional purposes in a given content area. Differentiation can be structured in a variety of ways including:

  • Whole group
  • Small group
  • Individual instruction

What support is given to teachers who provide differentiated instruction?

Northshore’s teachers plan and facilitate lessons using grade level curriculum. Analysis of preassessment and formative assessment data is critical. Analysis of this data will guide a teacher’s instructional plan for all students, including those qualified as Highly Capable.

At any time, professional judgment can be used to access and/or construct lessons or materials to meet the needs of a diverse learning community. Resources available to support the work of teachers serving Highly Capable students within the In-Class model include:

  • Curriculum Resources – Often, standard grade level curriculum includes unit and/or lesson level enrichment and extensions.
  • HiCap Toolbox – An online resource for Northshore teachers. Akin to an “electronic file cabinet,” the Toolbox includes ideas for homework modification, unit level math extensions, learning menus, learning contracts, and short professional development modules.
  • TenMarks Math – TenMarks is a supplemental online math program that is designed to complement core math instruction through small group or blended learning models. Students in Grades 2-5 who are designated as Highly Capable in math, and served in the In-Class model, have been provided TenMarks accounts. Teachers and students now have access to math content through Algebra II. TenMarks is adaptive, offering scaffolded lessons, guided practice, inquiry-based tasks, and assessments. The curriculum can be tailored in scope and sequence, to meet students at their level of readiness. Student accounts are also accessible at home.
  • Reading and Writing Learning Progressions - Available to teachers, Learning Progressions are a tool illustrating how skill acquisition in reading and writing unfolds in a predictable way. The progressions allow for a teacher to intentionally select skills for students that increase in complexity and sophistication. Progressions are available for both reading and writing. In the content area of reading, teachers can access progressions for narrative and informational reading. Teachers also have access to progressions for informational writing, opinion writing, narrative writing, and the writing process.
  • Words Their Way - With Words Their Way, word work lessons are selected based on the learner's stage of development. As needed, students may be provided more advanced levels of word work experiences.

Is there a cost to participate in Highly Capable programs?

There is no fee for access to Highly Capable programs or services. Providing these educational services is part of a student’s basic educational right.

Does my student have to change schools?

Students do not need to move schools in order to receive Highly Capable services. Families can choose to remain at their neighborhood school and receive Highly Capable services at that location. If your student has qualified for Elementary Advanced Placement (EAP), they have the option of enrolling at an EAP site.

An overview of EAP can be found at this page: Elementary Advanced Placement.

Why does HiCap use Smarter Balanced Assessment scores from the previous school year?

The Smarter Balanced Assessments are conducted in the spring, and final results do not become available until summer. In order to allow families and schools enough time to plan for the next school year, we need to use the prior year's data in our analysis. This gives schools time to set academic schedules, and gives families enough time to make a decision that works best for their student.

Are there any online resources for learning math over the summer?

Students accepted into the Highly Capable Program are not required to do any supplementary math exercises or coursework over the summer. We recognize that summer break is a time for our hard-working students to relax, unwind, and spend time with their family and friends. 

If your student wants to sharpen their math skills over the summer, the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Department recommends these resources:

Do "highly capable," "advanced learner," and "gifted" all mean the same thing?

A variety of terms are used to describe children who have unique advanced learning needs. Northshore School District has used the terms “gifted” and “highly capable” interchangeably. A note of caution regarding field experts – experts in the field, such as Tomlinson – may highlight terminology differences. For purposes in Northshore, please assume that “gifted”, “highly capable” and “advanced learner” all define a child with unique and advanced learning needs.

What types of resources are provided to students in the In-Class Model?

The cornerstone of Northshore’s In-Class Model is differentiation of grade-level curriculum. Differentiation is a teacher’s response to a learner’s needs. Differentiation begins with assessment and embraces continuous assessment. Assessment data indicates a child’s level of proficiency before, during or post content, informing a teacher’s planning and instruction. Strategies and materials will complement and connect to the grade-level curriculum and content. 

Northshore School District does not expect or require that teachers facilitate curriculum above their assigned grade level. Focusing on differentiation of the grade-level curriculum provides extension and enrichment opportunities for all students with advanced learning needs, rather than solely those who qualify as highly capable. 

Resources to support assessment, planning and instruction are available on the district’s HiCap Toolbox. Tomlinson’s Differentiation Chart, as well as Northshore teacher-created extensions for every unit in math, are valuable resources. The HiCap Toolbox also offers resources including learning menus, contracts, and homework extensions. 

In the content area of math, a building administrator may select to incorporate an online tool to support content access. Online tools approved by CMAC and available for building purchase include DreamBox, Imagine Math, i-Ready, Squiggle Park and Happy Numbers. 

HiCap Testing

My student is not enrolled in Northshore School District, but I want them to participate in Highly Capable testing. What should I do?

Northshore School District will only test students who are enrolled prior to the mid-October cutoff date. If you enroll your student prior to the cutoff date, they will follow the process described on our Current Students page. 

If your student enrolls after the mid-October cutoff date, they have the option of submitting records of their academic achievement to our department. This is known as a "portfolio review." This process is described on our Portfolio Reviews page. The district's Multidisciplinary Selection Team (MST) begins reviewing portfolios in March.

My student passed the screener, but I never completed the permission form. Can they still be tested?

Per state law, our department is unable to test students without written parent/guardian permission (WAC 392-170-047). If you have not provided permission for your child to participate in the Highly Capable Eligibility Process, we will not be able to test your student. 

Here is why we cannot accept late parent permissions: 

The Highly Capable Eligibility Process requires that our department carefully coordinate with schools, assessment vendors, and many other departments within our district. Annually, our three-person team is responsible for ensuring that every participating student takes the test (or tests) that they need, pulling together student achievement data from several different sources, determining eligibility for Highly Capable Services, and creating several thousand score reports. 

As a small team tackling a monumental task, we need to have firm deadlines. This gives us enough time to purchase assessment licenses, train proctors, schedule assessments with proctors and schools, review data, and communicate results. 

With that being said, we understand that remembering our program's deadlines, on top of all of the other important dates that make up your family's routine, is a lot to ask. This is why we began accepting parent permission forms in mid-August, giving families two full months to complete the permission form. 

I gave permission for my student to test, but they were absent during IOWA testing. How will the department determine if my student is eligible for Highly Capable Services?

In the absence of IOWA data, our department will look at other sources of information to determine eligibility. Besides the IOWA, Northshore students participate in other standardized assessments every year. 

After testing is complete, participating families will be notified of their students' Highly Capable eligibility status. This letter will include the names and results of any assessments that were used in the decision-making process. 

HiCap at Middle School

What math class will my middle school student take?

Students with Highly Capable qualification transitioning to middle school, attend their home middle school and have the opportunity to enroll in AAP - Advanced Academic Placement - courses. A student with a HiCap Reading qualification may enroll in AAP ELA and AAP Social Studies. A student with a HiCap Math qualification may enroll in AAP Science, and follow their Math course trajectory.


Regarding math trajectory, a student transitioning from a Grade 5 EAP program, typically enrolls in AAP Math 6, which is 8th Grade Math, as 5th Grade EAP covers 7th Grade Math standards. A student transitioning from a Grade 5 neighborhood school program (in-class model) will have the opportunity to enroll in 7th Grade Challenge Math, a course compacting 7th and 8th grade Math standards. Students from an in-class model may also choose Math 6, as 7th Grade Challenge Math does skip 6th grade Math standards.


At any time, a family may choose the course that will best meet their student's needs, and a middle school counselor and/or the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Department (CIA) may be of help to you. 


Fifth grade students in EAP, or in the in-class model had opportunity to participate in Algebra Readiness testing. Algebra Readiness testing is supervised by the CIA Department. Questions about Algebra Readiness qualification and math pathway for HiCap students may best be addressed by Ms. Niki Arnold-Smith, narnoldsmith@nsd.org.

Is HiCap Math the same as Algebra Readiness?

HiCap eligibility testing and Algebra Readiness are separate processes, conducted by separate departments. Algebra Readiness testing is conducted by the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Department. 

How does Algebra Readiness affect my student's math course enrollment? 

Algebra Readiness testing and Highly Capable assessments are complete. The Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction department sent notifications to all students who are eligible to enroll in Algebra I. 

  • If your student passed Algebra Readiness testing, they will enroll in Algebra I next year regardless of HiCap eligibility. 
  • A current fifth-grader who passes Algebra Readiness testing will enroll in Algebra I in the fall of the following school year. 
  • A current fifth-grader who qualified for Highly Capable services, but did not pass Algebra Readiness testing, will enroll in Challenge Math 7. 

A flowchart displaying middle school math trajectories can be found here: Middle School Math Course Sequence. (Link opens a PDF)

How will a HiCap Math designation affect my student's science course enrollment?

Middle school students with HiCap Math designations are eligible to enroll in AAP Science courses. 

I heard someone talk about "triple jump" math and "double jump" math. What does that mean?

"Triple jump" refers to a 6th grade student in Algebra I, because they are three years ahead of grade level math. This is possible in two ways: 

  • A student passes the Algebra Readiness exam as a fifth-grader and enrolls in Algebra I as a sixth-grader.
  • A student takes an accelerated math course over the summer.

"Double jump" students go into Challenge Math 7 as 6th graders. Students with good academic standing in Challenge Math 7 will enroll in Algebra 1 in 7th grade, which is two years ahead of grade level in math.

Should my student take an accelerated math course over the summer?

Students are not required to do summer math acceleration - this is a personal decision for each family. 

  • If a current fifth grader without a HiCap Math qualification takes Accelerated Math 6 over the summer, they can enroll in Challenge Math 7 in sixth grade.
  • Current fifth graders with a HiCap Math qualification are already qualified to take Challenge Math 7 as sixth-graders. They do not need to take Accelerated Math 6.

Further information on accelerated math options can be found here: Accelerated Math Options.

How does a HiCap Reading designation affect my student's course options?

If your student has a Reading qualification, they will be placed in Highly Capable English and Highly Capable Social Studies.  

Elementary Advanced Placement (EAP)

Is transportation to EAP sites provided?

Transportation is provided to students attending their Northshore assigned EAP site. Route information, including bus stop location and departure/return times, are available to families in late August. 

How can I request a new EAP site?

If you wish to pursue an EAP site assignment other than your assigned EAP site, you may contact Northshore’s Student Services Department for information about completing a waiver process.  Please note that students attending EAP sites on an approved waiver do not receive transportation services. Waiver requests and approval depends on space availability within each grade level.  If approved, the waiver is approved for the duration of elementary school, and families must reside in the Northshore School District. 

Could my EAP student's sibling attend an EAP site?

In order to determine whether a sibling may attend the same EAP site, families must complete a waiver request through the Student Services Department. Waiver requests and approval depends on space availability within each grade level.  If approved, the waiver is approved for the duration of elementary school, and families must reside in the Northshore School District. 

If my neighborhood school became an EAP site for 2019-2020, could we transfer back to our home school?

As much as possible, we want Highly Capable students and families to have the option of attending their neighborhood school. Transfers are handled on a space-available basis, and priority is given to newly-qualified EAP students.

Families requesting a transfer will need to file a waiver. For additional information regarding this process, contact Northshore's Student Services Department.

What is my student's EAP site?

Elementary students who are qualified for Highly Capable services in both Math and Reading are eligible for EAP. An overview of EAP can be found at this page: Elementary Advanced Placement. EAP is offered at a handful of elementary schools. 

If your student has recently qualified for EAP and you are considering EAP for your student, let us know by selecting "I want to reserve a spot in EAP" in the acceptance form. HiCap will contact you with your EAP site as soon as we have the list of locations. If you reserve a spot in EAP, then decide that you would prefer to remain at your home school, send an email to hicap@nsd.org.

I missed the EAP Information Night. Where can I find the video recording of the event?

My student is new to EAP this year. How do we arrange for transportation to their EAP site?

Beginning in late July, new EAP parents will need to fill out an online transportation request form. In August, you will be able to find busing information for your student using the e-Link service.

The online transportation request form for EAP families can be found here: 2019-2020 EAP Transportation Form

All other forms for district transportation can be found on Transportation's website: Transportation Forms

Should you have any questions regarding transportation for your student, our Transportation department is best-equipped to answer them. You may contact them via the information below: 

Phone 425-408-7900
Email transportation@nsd.org

 

 

Still have questions? 

If your question wasn't answered on this page, send us an email at hicap@nsd.org. To expedite your request, please include your student's full name and student ID number in your email.