Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: How were students' eligibility for Highly Capable services determined? 

    A: A Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MDSC) made up of teachers, specialists, and administrators reviews multiple indicators of a student’s aptitude and achievement, not just test scores, to determine whether the student is in need of Highly Capable services.  Shoreline School District does not use “cut scores” to determine eligibility. Data reviewed for students in grades 1 and above includes scores from the CogAT, DIBELS, i-Ready math and reading, previous cognitive test results, state testing, teacher recommendations, and any supplemental information submitted by families. The committee looks for a consistent pattern of performance across BOTH achievement and aptitude indicators that is in the top 3-5 percent of students across the district. 

    The CogAT is a different type of test than achievement tests like the i-Ready. The i-Ready measures the math and reading that a student knows and can do, whereas the CogAT is a cognitive test with problems that do not look like other math or reading questions the student may have encountered and does not measure what the student has learned.  The CogAT also does not measure such factors as effort, attention, motivation, and work habits, which also contribute significantly to school achievement.  The CogAT, instead, measures mathematical/quantitative and verbal reasoning in a more abstract way.  The MDSC looks at both the overall Grade Percentile Ranking of the CogAT and the individual raw scores for each of the three subtests to help determine eligibility in ELA and/or math.

    Q: My student participated in highly capable testing and scored above the 95th percentile. Why didn’t they qualify for highly capable services?

    A: Often, when a family is asking this question, the student has scored above the 95th percentile on one part of an assessment. Again, the committee looks for a consistent pattern of performance across BOTH achievement and aptitude indicators that is in the top 3-5 percent of students across the district. Shoreline reviews multiple indicators of a student’s aptitude and achievement, not just test scores, to determine whether the student is in need of Highly Capable services. Some students may be high-achieving, but may not demonstrate the kind of abstract thinking and reasoning skills that indicate a student is gifted/highly capable and in need of different instruction than that provided in our general education program. The abstract reasoning assessed by the CogAT is correlated to giftedness and success in the highly capable program and students who are high-achieving are not necessarily highly capable. The results of district assessments in reading and math may indicate students are performing at or above grade level in some areas. However, the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee may have determined that your student would continue to be successful with current classroom instruction and is not in need of Highly Capable services at this time. 

    Q: Why are my student’s HiCap test scores so inconsistent?  Why did they qualify in only one area?

    A: Many students have inconsistent score profiles.  This indicates that students have a strength or aptitude in one particular area.  This is not uncommon, and it is why Shoreline now identifies and serves students in a single area.

    For younger students, their cognitive development may be proceeding more rapidly in one area than another and may become more consistent as the student continues to grow and develop. Many of our younger students have higher scores in one area than in the other or have higher scores on academic achievement tests than on tests of cognitive aptitude. Developmentally, high-achieving students may just not have developed abstract reasoning ability yet.

    Q: My child was identified in just one area. Can she test in the future for the other area? If she qualifies in both, can she then enroll in a full-time magnet school?

    A: Yes to both questions. She can test during the next testing opportunity in just one area and if she qualifies she could enroll in the magnet program at the beginning of the following year.

    Q: Should I appeal the testing decision? Should my student retest again next year?

    A. The appeals process is designed for families who believe that there was a specific circumstance that prevented their student from performing up to their ability during the testing session. Families receive information about appeals when they are notified of their student’s eligibility for services. Appeals information can also be found here. If you feel that this determination may be in error due to a misinterpretation of testing results or your student’s assessment results were affected by an extraordinary circumstance during testing, we hope you will access our appeals process.  If not, your student may participate in the screening process again next year.

    Any family can choose to have their child participate in the winter screening and assessment. Registration for this testing typically occurs in December and can be found on the Highly Capable section of the district website. Families of students with uneven score profiles or whose student qualified in only one area often retest the following year.

    Q: Is "Walk to Math" (acceleration services for HiCap math students) ending?

    A:  The decision has been made to phase out Walk to Math services beginning with 2019-2020 Kindergarten students. The HiCap math service model to replace Walk to Math has yet to be determined. 

    Q: How is Shoreline working to improve equity and diversity in the highly capable program?

    A: The district is working toward improving equity and diversity in HiCap by:

    • Eliminating HiCap testing on Saturdays and instead providing testing during the school day, in each school building.
    • Screening all K and 1st grade students during school hours for further recommendation for full battery assessments.
    • Reviewing multiple indicators and evidence of students' abilities, in addition to HiCap test scores.
    • Communicating to families in multiple languages and modes (email, phone calls, school newsletters)
    • Testing new Shoreline students in summer and fall.
    • Beginning with 2019-2020, the elimination of full HiCap identification in kindergarten. Instead, Shoreline will provide enrichment in kindergarten and first grade classrooms to those identified for the Primary Enrichment Program. Students will be eligible for full HiCap services beginning in 2nd grade.
    • See the presentation to the school board around these recent changes here.

    Q: What is Shoreline doing to support the social and emotional learning of HiCap students?

    A: Advisory periods in middle school address topics that are applicable to all students, such as managing anxiety and stress. In addition, Shoreline is identifying social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for grades K-12 through the work of the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum Adoption Committee. Cohorting and clustering of HiCap students will also be done when feasible. In addition, the newly adopted health curriculum, The Great Body Shop, includes an SEL component across all grades.

    Q: Is Shoreline planning to stop testing kindergarten students for highly capable services?

    A: In July 2019, the Shoreline School Board approved changes to kindergarten HiCap services. Shoreline will screen kindergarten students for the new Primary Enrichment Program. Studies have shown that full-battery testing of kindergarten and first grade students may not be an accurate measure of giftedness, but that efforts may prove more reliable in 2nd grade and beyond when the academic skill sets are more level.  Formal elementary HiCap service in Shoreline will begin in 2nd grade.

    Q: What about middle school? Will there continue to be advanced classes offered in all subjects, or only in math?

    A: In January 2019, the school board approved the Middle School Committee’s recommendations to offer Honors courses to all middle school students beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.  The slides from the January 14, 2019 school board meeting are included here.  With Honors courses traditionally serving as the academic pathway for Shoreline’s HiCap students, these Honors options will continue in addition to the offering of the new HiCap ELA cohort option.  The purpose of the HiCap ELA cohort option is to provide an opportunity for HiCap-identified students to be grouped together with their peers for social/emotional connections.  Teachers will differentiate instruction in the classrooms and HiCap students may be naturally clustered together as their schedules could be similar with Honors/HiCap English, related math courses, and electives. High school will still offer Honors, Running Start, and AP classes.  There are also external online courses that may be eligible for graduation credit.

    Q: How will differentiation for our highly capable population be accommodated in the new “honors for all” program?

    A: Teachers have been receiving professional development from Jennifer Etter (HiCap Instructional Specialist) to level up curriculum in preparation of this Honors transition.  Seventeen teachers have also recently received training from Austina De Bonte, President of the Northwest Gifted Child Association (NWGCA). According to the district’s priorities for 2019-20, professional development is a high priority in the area of “Teaching and Learning.”

    Q: HiCap English was added at Einstein. How is this class different than honors? Are there any other plans to offer other HiCap classes at Einstein?

    A: The concept of the HiCap ELA cohort class originated from the work of the Secondary Highly Capable Program Review committee whose recommendations were approved by the school board in the spring of 2018.  The academic foundation for the cohort class is still Honors; however, students may opt for the cohort class if they desire to be grouped with their HiCap-identified peers for social-emotional connections.  For the 2019-2020 year, both Einstein and Kellogg added a "English 7 and 8 Hon/Hi cap" option which has grouped HiCap-identified ELA students from the magnet schools and neighborhood schools together in one classroom.  Besides this English class, middle schools do not plan to offer intentional cohorting of HiCap students in Honors Social Studies and Honors Science, but due to similarities in course selections by these students, there may be natural clusterings across these classes. Honors for 20-21 will retain the same academic expectations as they are currently and access to accelerated learning. The teachers’ goals are to differentiate instruction to all students in their classrooms.

    Q: How has the Highly Capable program changed at our K-5 schools?

    A: Previously, Highly Capable program services were offered in grades K-5 for students identified as eligible in both reading and math. Beginning 2017-2018, Shoreline added Highly Capable program services at home schools for students identified as eligible in a single area (reading or math).

    Q: Why were these changes made?

    A: New state guidelines for providing services to Highly Capable students required changes to the Highly Capable identification process; services offered to students who are identified as Highly Capable in one area; and the option of receiving Highly Capable services at the student's home school.

    Q: What kind of training is provided for teachers?

    A: Specific professional development is provided for all teachers serving highly capable students. Training focuses on academic differentiation, instructional strategies, and meeting the social-emotional needs of highly capable students. The district provides ongoing support for instructional coaches, principals and program teachers. The instruction team provides job-embedded support and follow-up, as needed, for teachers in each building, including planning support, model teaching, feedback, or analysis of student work/data and subsequent planning to meet needs. Ongoing principal professional development regarding highly capable is built into principal meetings during the school year.

    Q: How are Highly Capable students being taught in neighborhood schools?

    A: Depending on the number of students in a classroom identified in math or English Language Arts, schools will have the flexibility to select from three teaching strategies.

    • Differentiation
    • Cluster grouping
    • HiCap resource room

    For more information about these strategies, please see the presentation to the School Board here.

    Q: Has the full day magnet program changed?

    A: No. The services at the magnet schools have not changed. We continue to offer transportation from your neighborhood school to the magnet schools for students qualified to attend those programs.

    Q: What will be the difference between magnet and home school service?


    Magnet Programs: A HiCap teacher provides instruction in English Language Arts, math, all other subjects for the full school day.

    Neighborhood School Services: HiCap instruction will just be in the areas of math and/or English Language Arts.

    • English Language Arts – Teachers provide students with a range of materials within the grade level standards. HiCap students work with more complex text and have opportunities for deeper thinking, independent work.
    • Math – Instruction for HiCap students is a grade level above for students in grades 4-5 for the 2022-2023 school year.

    Q: What do I do if I’m not sure about enrolling in HiCap or staying at my home school?

    A: We have parent meetings to provide more information and give you an opportunity to ask questions. Talk to your current teacher and principal to see what they think. There are resources on our website that may help you. Talking to parents of students who are currently in the program can also be helpful.

    Q: If I decide to enroll my student in a magnet program, can I change my mind later and re-enroll her in our home school?

    A: Due to space concerns at some of our elementary schools, if you enroll in one of the magnet schools and decide mid-year that you would like to go back to your home school, we will try to accommodate you, but we can not guarantee there will be capacity in your home school.  If you want to make the change for the next school year, there is a good chance we will be able to accommodate you at your home school. Regardless of which school your child attends, she or he will be provided with HiCap services if you so desire.

    Q: Who teaches the HiCap students at their home schools?

    A: Each school has the flexibility to determine how to provide services. All of our elementary teachers are provided training in effective strategies for HiCap students. In some cases, their grade level teachers may teach all their subjects to their students. In some cases, students may go to another class for math, for example.

    Q: If I don’t choose to have my child receive HiCap services next year, can she or he get services later?

    A: Yes. Once a child is identified or grades 2 and above, they are eligible for HiCap services in any future school year.

    Q: Will the District be offering ongoing opportunities for parents to learn about highly capable students?

    A: Yes. Starting in the fall of 2017, we will be holding regular interactive meetings as well as presentations for parents and staff to learn together about highly capable students and how best to support them. 

    Q: Where can I find out more about highly capable students?

    A: There is a presentation on our website by Austina De Bonte.  You can find her complete presentation here. The National Association for Gifted Children also has a lot of great information, including some myths about giftedness here.