Are the terms "highly capable," "advanced learner," and "gifted" all synonymous?

A variety of terms are used to describe children with advanced learning needs – needs unique from their same age peers. 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 are the indicators/benchmarks that qualify a kindergartner as highly capable?

The Kindergarten Highly Capable Assessment Process includes screening and assessment. WaKIDS serves as our screening tool. Naglieri Nonverbal Aptitude Test (NNAT3) serves as our assessment tool. 

HiCap Department analyzes specific questions from the Cognitive, Literacy and Math sections of WaKIDS. These questions are identified as key indicators of children who may have advanced learning needs, needs unique from their same age peers. Focus questions are 11b, 11c, 18b, 20a, 20b and 20c. For 2019-2020, students scoring at or above 95th percentile on the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT3) or 9 or above on at least one area of the six WaKIDS focus questions are offered Holistic designation.  

The WaKIDS and NNAT3 data are analyzed by the district level Multidisciplinary Selection Team (MST). The MST is charged with data analysis, establishing thresholds for eligibility and applying eligibility criteria. 

For how long does a student retain their Holistic HiCap designation?

Students offered and accepting Holistic HiCap designation remain Holistically qualified until the end of their first grade year. During winter of Grade 1, all Holistic qualified students re-test for potential continued HiCap eligibility beginning Grade 2.

Primary grade students develop at different rates, and may not continue to have unique learning needs from same age peers after a Holistic qualification upon entering K-5 academic placement. Again, a student qualified as Holistic in Kindergarten only retains that designation through end of Grade 1. All Holistic students re-test in winter of Grade 1. The testing plan for students is determined fall, yearly after review and approval by Northshore’s School Board.

If a student is selected as highly capable, what type of resources (advanced math curriculum, or science) will be provided to teachers to support this above-grade-level work?

Kindergarten HiCap services are known as Holistic services. The cornerstone of Northshore’s Holistic 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 by a Kindergarten or first grade student. Online tools approved by CMAC and available for building purchase include DreamBox, Imagine Math, Squiggle Park and Happy Numbers. 

Do teachers need to create a learning plan for HiCap students?

HiCap Student Learning Plans are no longer required. Student progress and information regarding differentiation provided are captured in the progress reports and report cards. Reports are then shared with parents. 

Are there any other special recording requirements for HiCap qualified students?

There are no other documentation requirements beyond the progress report and report card. Progress reports and report cards are intended to capture a child’s progress, including but not limited to goals, achievements, and necessary differentiation.

What does the term "Holistic" mean in terms of Highly Capable qualification?

Highly Capable services at the K-1 level are provided in the general education classroom at the neighborhood school only. Services are not offered within the Elementary Advanced Program (EAP) for K-1 students.  Students designated as highly capable in grades K-1 are categorized as “Holistic”. School teams evaluate the student's assessment data and, from a menu of services and resources, choose those which will best meet the unique learning needs of students identified as most highly capable. The goal is to nurture all areas of the whole child, while differentiating as needed, in those areas wherein a child demonstrates advanced learner needs. At the end of first grade, those students identified as Holistic are re-assessed. Until this re-assessment, a teacher’s priority is to grow the whole child, paying close attention to those areas unique from grade level peers – academic, social, musical, art, etc.

How is HiCap qualification information shared with families?

Highly Capable Department handles all parent communication. This includes information regarding screening, assessment, permission to test and acceptance of services, if services are offered.  

Questions regarding Kindergarten highly capable assessment process – such as screening or assessment tool inquiries, the process of moving from screening to assessment, eligibility thresholds, etc. – can be directed to the HiCap Department at hicap@nsd.org. In addition the HiCap website provides a wealth of information around eligibility and testing, thresholds, service models, etc. 

Questions regarding the collection of and scoring of WaKIDS components should be directed to classroom teachers as classroom teachers collect this information.

Questions regarding NNAT3 scores can be addressed to the HiCap Department – hicap@nsd.org. NNAT3 information is available, in detail, on the HiCap website.

What if a student doesn't qualify for Holistic Services in kindergarten? Is there an appeal process?

Families wishing to appeal a qualification decision have the right to an appeals process. The inclusion and communication of an appeals process is mandated by district policy and procedure, as well as WAC.  The appeals process is posted on the HiCap website, and always added to parent communication in final eligibility letters (at the end of the letter). 

Appeals are due 10 calendar days following the distribution of results. The 2018-19 Kindergarten results are emailed to the primary email address on file with Northshore School District on Friday, January 18. Therefore, appeals for Kindergarten qualification are due on Tuesday, January 29, 4:00PM. 

Following the appeals due date the district level Multidisciplinary Selection Team (MST) convenes to review the submitted appeal. The parent submitting the appeal will hear back from the Highly Capable Department, in writing, by February 28, 2019.