The Cascadia Elementary Advocacy Task Force will focus on the following goals for the 2019-20 school year:
- Move Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to a model using current best practices in identification and referral to result in an Advanced Learning and Highly Capable Cohort student population (often referred to as hi-cap or HCC) that better reflects the diversity of Seattle.
- Educate the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) community about the importance of HCC and Advanced Learning programs.
- Support advanced learners with dedicated elementary schools in every region of the city.
What is HCC?
The Highly Capable Cohort is a state-mandated program that includes students who are “cognitively atypical.” This atypicality is characterized by strong verbal, logical, and abstract thinking abilities, often coupled with asynchronous development in other areas. Asynchronicity can present as high academic capacity with a lag in social-emotional development; as high skills in some academic areas (math, reading, science) alongside either more typical or otherwise less advanced skills in other academic areas; and other times as high academic ability in addition to one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria — a situation which is referred to as “twice exceptional” or 2E.
These students are found in all cultures, and in all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Why is Seattle HCC enrollment not reflective of the district’s diversity?
SPS Advanced Learning programs currently do not reflect the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity of our city because SPS has not adopted modern best practices, which are already in use by other school districts, to identify students in diverse populations.
The Cascadia Elementary PTA advocates for these recommendations by the Advanced Learning Task Force for screening:
Seattle’s Advanced Learning Task Force (ALTF) was commissioned by SPS to carefully research factors leading to inequity in hi-cap programming and to suggest solutions to the problem of disproportionate representation.
- Opt-out (not opt-in) evaluation. All students should be assessed in their current school during regular school hours.
- Factors beyond test scores: Factors outside of solely academic achievement or cognitive scores should be allowed to identify students who may otherwise have been missed. (Per WAC 392-170-055, “There is no single prescribed method for identification of students among the most highly capable.”)
- Accessible communications: All families should be made aware of the program offerings in an accessible manner.
- Training: Teachers should be trained to recognize cognitive atypicality in underrepresented populations.
- Develop potential in underrepresented communities: Programs should be developed to support students from historically underrepresented communities who show potential for high achievement.
By expanding the identification process in every school, SPS can extend the vital HCC program to the full set of students who need it across all socioeconomic, neighborhood, cultural and racial lines. These measures, among others, will allow more children across underrepresented groups to benefit from advanced learning services, including both in-school services in neighborhood schools and the HCC program, based on individual and family needs.
Be sure to subscribe to our emails. Advocacy updates will be included in the Dragon Digest and calls to action may be sent separately as needed.
If you want to maintain Cascadia and the Advanced Learning program, please get involved. You can email email@example.com, fill out this volunteer form, or reach out directly to your School Board Director. Determine your director on this map. Find contact information for each director here.
Our advocacy director can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.