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    Advanced Learning Programs and Services

    Advanced Learners

    Advanced Learner (AL) is an eligibility category granted during the Eligibility Decision process.  A Seattle Public Schools student who is granted AL status retains that status for their entire tenure as a student in the district, unless the student retests and is found Highly Capable (HC) or he/she leaves the district for more than one year. Students designated as AL are served in their neighborhood schools and are also eligible to apply for attendance at one of 14 Spectrum Sites (see option 2, below).

    Service Option 1:  Remain in your neighborhood school

    All Seattle Public Schools work to meet the needs of individual students, including the needs of our students benefiting from instruction at an advanced level. You may explore and learn about your school’s plan for delivering instruction for advanced learning by reviewing the school Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP).

    No additional enrollment steps are needed to receive services at your neighborhood school. Schools will be notified of eligibility decisions as soon as possible but may not be formally notified until decision-making concludes in February.

    Service Option 2: Apply for a Spectrum assignment

    Historically, designated Spectrum sites provided programming in a self-contained setting for students receiving Advanced Learning services. Over the past several years, self-contained programming has transitioned to integrated Advanced Learning services/opportunities and are now offered in every building. Currently, we have 14 sites that are designated as Spectrum although no Spectrum site provides advanced learning instruction and services in a self-contained setting. As an AL-eligible student, your child may apply to attend one of these 14 sites.

    Our Spectrum sites offer advanced instruction for students demonstrating the need based in performance as does your neighborhood school. The delivery of services and approach to providing content and instruction at an advanced level will vary to some degree from school to school.

    So how might parents/guardians make a decision to remain in the neighborhood site or apply for a transfer to a Spectrum site?

    Making the decision to apply for a transfer to a Spectrum Site

    As parents and guardians make decisions regarding remaining in their neighborhood school or transferring to a Spectrum Site, we encourage you to consider the following as part of your decision-making process:

    • Review the Spectrum designated school’s Advanced Learning Plan found within the school’s Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP). Then review your neighborhood school’s CSIP to compare the similarities and differences.
    • Make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher(s) to discuss your child’s new eligibility and the services offered for AL-eligible students.
    • Go to the school website to learn about and then attend an Open House or school tour at your Spectrum school (if offered).
    • Is your child currently feeling a sense of belonging and experiencing success in his/her neighborhood school? Does he/she have groups, extra-curricular activities that are special to him/her? Does he/she enjoy the social, emotional or special activities and opportunities provided by your current school?
    • Have you explored the academic and instructional options that may be provided at your current school to determine how the school may adjust practice to best respond to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs as well as academic needs of your child?
    • If concerns with your school are present, have you shared these concerns and worked with the school to address the needs of your child?

     Applying for transfer to a Spectrum site during Open Enrollment:

    • Elementary students who are AL-eligible and want to attend a Spectrum designated school must apply during Open Enrollment even if it is the same school to which they are currently assigned.
    • 5th grade students enrolled at a Spectrum site will receive an initial assignment to AL at their attendance area middle school for 6th grade, no application is required.
    • Any student with an AL designation may apply for another attendance area school during Open Enrollment through May 31, however, assignment is based on space available.
    • Newly AL-eligible elementary students must apply for a Spectrum site placement beginning during Open Enrollment and through the School Choice period, which continues through May 31.
    • Assignment to a Spectrum site in grades 1-5 depends on space available.

    Open Enrollment Information

    • The Open Enrollment window happens annually—typically in February. If you have not yet received an Advanced Learning eligibility decision, or if you are appealing that decision, you should still apply for the school and program you hope to attend.
    • The results of Open Enrollment will be available online in April. Students who receive a choice assignment will be notified directly by mail with a new assignment letter.
    • Late choice applications received after Open Enrollment do not receive tiebreaker priorities and are much less likely to result in your student being assigned to the school and program you desire.

    Read more about Open Enrollment.

    Note to families new to Seattle Public Schools: If your child is not currently enrolled in Seattle Public Schools, you must submit a complete enrollment registration first. Assignment to elementary Spectrum designated buildings is based on space availability.

    Read more about enrolling your student in Seattle Public Schools.

    Highly Capable Services

    Per the Washington Administration Code (WAC), provision of accelerated or enhanced instruction is considered basic education for a student identified as Highly Capable (HC).

    Services for students determined as eligible for HC students are provided in neighborhood schools as well as in regional Highly Capable Cohort (HC Pathway) Schools.

    What is Basic Education? A basic education is an evolving program of instruction that is intended to provide students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens, to contribute to their economic well-being and that of their families and communities, to explore and understand different perspectives, and to enjoy productive and satisfying lives.

    What is an HC Pathway? As students enter the accelerated learning environment provided in an HC Cohort School, a pathway to middle school and high school is offered to ensure a continuation of appropriate instruction. Read more about Highly Capable Cohort Pathways.

     

    Service Option 1: HC Services in Neighborhood Schools

    For the 2018-19 school year, over 1,100 students eligible for Highly Capable services were served in their neighborhood elementary, middle and K-8 schools. For students who elect to remain in their neighborhood school, services are provided within the designed programming provided at the school.  A variety of evidence-based practices occur at each school, are based in student data, and are monitored by the teachers and leadership at the school through professional learning communities, data teams, and Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Leadership Teams. A variety of instructional practices occur within classrooms to meet the varied needs of our students. For delivery of advanced content to students demonstrating they are ready for advanced learning include but are not limited to modification of outcomes, adjusted pacing, problem-based learning, project learning, and flexible/fluid grouping of students for one or more subjects, and acceleration. Your child’s school can provide information about the current plan for addressing the needs of students eligible for Highly Capable Services.

    Service Option 2: Highly Capable Services in the HC Pathway School

    The Highly Capable Pathway School known also as the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) offers a model of advanced instruction in both reading/ELA and Mathematics and is most beneficial for students who are currently performing significantly above standard in both academic areas. Advancement of two years in mathematics and up to two years in reading/ELA for some students is a researched-based model and can be very effective for students who benefit from acceleration.

    As parents and guardians make decisions regarding remaining in a neighborhood school or transferring to the HC Pathway School, we encourage you to consider how well your child will benefit from participation in the accelerated learning environment including:

    • Some students flourish in the environment; others may feel overwhelmed with the learning environment, pacing and/or requirements. How does your child respond to significant challenge? Is he/she able to respond positively to rigorous acceleration? Could perfectionist tendencies be a possible barrier to engaging in significantly accelerated content and learning expectations?
    • How comfortable is your child working independently in a whole class learning environment monitored only by the classroom teacher? Is your child able to work with a strong level of independence?
    • Instruction is accelerated up to 2 years in both mathematics and reading/ELA. Is your child ready for such an acceleration, and has accelerated teaching and learning been recommended for your child? Does your child demonstrate the basic and foundational skills needed to jump ahead in both content areas?
    • Is your child currently experiencing a sense of belonging in his/her neighborhood school? Does he/she have groups, outside activities, or enjoy the social, emotional and other activities provided by your current school?
    • Have you explored the academic and instructional options provided at your current school to determine how the school may adjust practice to best respond to the social, emotional, behavior needs as well as academic needs of your child?
    • If concerns with your school are present, have you shared these concerns and worked with the school to address the needs of your child?

    Choosing to transfer to an HC Pathway School:

    • Students eligible, but not enrolled as HC Pathway, are not automatically assigned to their HC Pathway school; they must apply during Open Enrollment through School Choice period, which continues through May 31.
    • If the application is received during Open Enrollment through May 31, students will be assigned to their HC Pathway school for the upcoming school year.
    • Assignment to the non-pathway school depends on space available; tiebreakers apply during Open Enrollment.
    • If your child is not currently enrolled in Seattle Public Schools, you must submit a complete Seattle Schools enrollment registration first.
    • Choice applications that are received after Open Enrollment are late and do not receive tiebreaker priorities.
    • The results of Open Enrollment will be available online in April. Students who receive a choice assignment will be notified by mail at the end of April.

    Read more about School Choice.

    Open Enrollment Information

    • The Open Enrollment window happens annually—typically in February. This is the best time to apply for the school you desire for next fall. If you have not yet received an Advanced Learning eligibility decision, or if you are appealing that decision, you should still apply for the school and program you hope to attend.
    • Choice assignments to your designated Highly Capable pathway are guaranteed through May 31.
    • Rising 8th grade students who are not in an existing designated middle school HC Pathway do not have a guaranteed HC pathway, and will be assigned to their neighborhood school if no action is taken during Open Enrollment.
    • Choice applications that are received after Open Enrollment are late, do not receive tiebreaker priorities, and are much less likely to result in your student being assigned to the school and program you desire.
    • The results of Open Enrollment will be available online in April. Students who receive a choice assignment will be notified directly by mail with a new assignment letter.

    Note to families new to Seattle Public Schools: If a student new to the district enrolls after the testing deadline has passed and enrolls from another public school district, they will need to show document of comparable eligibility and participation in a comparable program for students designated as Highly Capable in the state of Washington and Seattle schools. Eligibility is determined by the Advanced Learning department and applies to all grades.

    Visit our enrollment web pages for more information about Open Enrollment, making a choice for a new school, deadlines and other information regarding enrollment practices and policies within Seattle Public Schools.

    Read more about enrolling your student in Seattle Public Schools.

    Incoming Kindergarten or High School Students

    Kindergarten Students

    According to Washington state school attendance rules, a child must be five years old by August 31 to attend kindergarten. Seattle Public Schools offers the opportunity for parents of students who demonstrate observable, significantly advanced levels of social and cognitive readiness to apply for an exception to this rule. Read more about Early Entrance to Kindergarten (EEK).

    Students in 6th through 12th Grade 

    Advanced Learning services and opportunities are offered at all Seattle Public Schools K-8, middle and high schools. Read more about Highly Capable and Advanced Learning in Secondary Schools.

    Contact Advanced Learning

    Have a question? Contact us.

    Key Dates

    See our calendar web page for upcoming dates and general referral and testing windows.

    Advanced Learning Updates