Welcome to the Advocacy page for Cascadia PTA. Our Advocacy Co-Chairs, Adja Sakho and Christine Tang, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently in Advocacy
The Cascadia advocacy team has added a page about the state of HiCap in Seattle. Please read and consider responding.
Currently Cascadia’s biggest needs involve advocating at the state and national level for more support for schools. We need to ask for more state and federal funding, as well as state legislation to address shortfalls of our current system. When you talk to your representatives they appreciate personal stories and specific asks.
There are multiple ways to do this, one of which is contacting your representatives in government. For Washington State you can use this portal: Find My District. Once you find your representatives you can click through to the individual pages and find the ’email’ link. From here you can submit a letter, and you can conveniently ask that it be copied to all of your representatives. Alternatively, phone numbers are listed, and you can make a phone call. Similarly, you can use this portal: Gov Track to find contact information for your national representatives. You will want to focus on big picture issues – national vaccine programs, for example, at the national level.
Another way you can do this is to support individual bills in the state legislature. The following are a list of bills that may be on interest to you. By clicking on the link to the bill you can choose to follow the bill, and also to comment on the bill which will send your response to your legislators.
[Fall 2022 – the WA Legislature will be in session in January and there will be bills to watch later in the year]
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.
Recent advocacy notes
The Washington Coalition for Gifted Education is an advocacy organization that works to promote HiCap education in Washington state. They focus on working with key state decision makers by lobbying in Olympia, supporting the state Gifted Education day, and sharing legislative information to local organizations (such as the Cascadia PTA). Currently WCGE is working to build funds and support for the coming legislative year. Please consider donating or joining the coalition with this form.
In August 2020 the PTA hosted an evening discussion about advocacy. Slides from this talk are here.