Frequently Asked Questions

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

    A: The Walk to Math model will not change for currently identfied HiCap math students in grades 1-6. 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 2nd grade students during school hours for further recommendation to full battery assessments.
    • Reviewing multiple indicators and evidence of studuent's abilities, in addition to HiCap test scores.
    • Communicating to families in mutiple 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: Next year, advisory periods will start in the middle school which will 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.  When 19-20 kindergarteners reach the spring of their first grade year, HiCap assessments will be administered at that time.  Subsequently, formal elementary HiCap service in Shoreline will begin in 2nd grade (fall of 2021).

    Q: What is happening to 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: As 5th graders move to middle school, how will families be informed about what classes HiCap students need?

    A: All 5th grade students and their families will work with their 5th grade teachers and middle school counselors to choose the appropriate class placement for 6th grade middle school. Teaching and Learning is working on recommendation for 6th grade HiCap students.

    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 the i-Ready or ITBS, but not on the CogAT.  Many of our students are high-achieving, but do 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.

    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 student have higher scores in one area than in the other or have higher scores on the ITBS than on the CogAT. Developmentally, high-achieving students may just not have developed the abstract reasoning ability yet.

    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.

    Any family can choose to have their child participate in the Winter testing. 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: How has the Highly Capable program changed at our K-6 schools?

    A: Previously, Highly Capable program services were offered in grades K-6 for students identified as eligible in 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 to 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 be taught in the home 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 be changed?

    A: No. The services at the magnet schools has not changed. We continue to offer transporation from your neighborhood school to the magnet schools for students qualifed 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 are a grade level above, for example 4th graders will study 5th grade math.

    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 the one area and if she qualifies she could enroll in the magnet program at the beginning of the following 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. You can contact the Shoreline HiCap Parent Association at

    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 accomodate 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 accomodate 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 the 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, 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. We will also have a regular newsletter, which will be sent to parents.

    Q: My child didn't qualify for HiCap. Can we have her test again?

    A: Yes. Any family is welcome to register their child for testing once per year and we would reassess them based on the current selection process. 

    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 presention here. The National Association for Gifted Children also has a lot of great information including a some myths about giftedness here.