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Advanced Learning - Testing 

If you think your student may need advanced learning opportunities, please apply for eligibility testing. If your student has already been tested and you have an enrollment question, click here.

First, be aware of our deadlines: Our regular fall testing application window closed October 2.

PLEASE NOTE: If you applied for testing but your child has not yet been tested or received results, click HERE to learn how to enroll by the March 6 deadline. 

IF YOU APPLIED FOR TESTING: All students whose applications were sent by the October 2 deadline will be scheduled for testing. The Advanced Learning Office received more than 5,400 applications. Testing takes place from October through February. Families are notified by phone or email, typically shortly before the test date. If you have not been contacted about a test date, please be patient. The Advanced Learning Office will contact you.

Many students in grades 2-8 will be offered the opportunity to test on Saturdays at the John Stanford Center due to space limitations at school sites. Students in kindergarten and first grade will in most cases be tested at their school during regular hours, as will all students who cannot participate in Saturday testing.

IF YOU MISSED THE DEADLINE: Current Seattle Public Schools families who missed the deadline must wait another year to apply, but families who move to the district after October 2 may apply for summer testing for the upcoming school year. See below for details.

All candidates must go through the SPS testing process. We adhere strictly to the established timelines and eligibility criteria without exception in order to provide equal access for the 5,000-plus candidates who are referred annually. Private testing is considered only in support of an appeal of an eligibility decision.

Fall/Regular Testing

This is the usual testing route required to determine Advanced Learning eligibility. For your student to be considered for Highly Capable Services or Spectrum, you must follow these steps and adhere to these important and strict deadlines:

  1. Apply by the October 2, 2014, deadline. An "application" consists of two forms, both contained in the Application Form/Information Packet (see links above). Please follow these instructions and adhere to these deadlines:
  2. Choose a program and/or school by the winter 2015 deadline. Students won't be automatically enrolled, so you cannot skip this step. See our Enrollment page for details.
Teachers or community members who wish to nominate a student for testing must give a Parent/Guardian Permission Form to the parent or guardian of the student and also request and/or submit a Teacher/Educator Rating Scale.

How the regular Fall Testing system works:

1. MAP Score Review

 If both spring MAP scores are not at the 87th percentile or above (or you do not have spring MAP scores), but you believe your student is a strong candidate for Advanced Learning, please submit your application by October 2. All applicants will be tested. Subsequent achievement scores such as fall MAP data will be considered.

To check your student's MAP scores, please access the Source (link on the top line of this page). Sign in to your student's account (or create one if necessary). MAP scores are listed under assessments.

2. Test Date Notification

Families will be notified by phone or email when a testing date has been scheduled. If you don't receive notification by early January, contact the Advanced Learning Office at

3. Cognitive Testing

All candidates must take the Cognitive Abilities Test, which will be scheduled from late October through winter. Some schools will hold tests on Saturdays, and all private school students are offered a Saturday testing date.

CogAT Form 7 reflects the most up-to-date research on how best to measure cognitive abilities and learning styles. This version has reduced the language load to make the test even more appropriate for ELL children. It includes:

Verbal Battery: This comprises three subtests: Picture (Verbal) Analogies, Picture (Verbal) Classification and Sentence Completion. For the Primary Edition, the Picture Analogies and Picture Classification subtests are picture-based items which tap into verbal reasoning processes without tying items to a specific administration language. The Sentence Completion test is the only test that requires teacher-read prompts. For the Multilevel Edition, the student must read individual words on two subtests of the Verbal Battery (Verbal Analogies and Verbal Classification) and a sentence on the third (Sentence Completion).

Nonverbal Battery: This comprises three subtests: Figure Matrices, Paper Folding and Figure Classification. The three subtests at the Primary level are just like those at the Multilevel and did not require much adaptation for young students. The Figure Matrices subtest contains three figures in an analogy that the student must complete. Paper Folding requires the examinee to determine how a folded, hole-punched paper will appear when unfolded. Figure Classification presents three figures in the stem, and the examinee is required to determine a fourth figure that belongs to the set. 

Quantitative Battery: This comprises three subtests: Number Analogies, Number Puzzles, and Number Series. The three subtests have been adapted for young students by couching quantitative reasoning challenges in engaging and accessible formats. The Number Analogies task for primary children relies on picture-based quantitative concepts. The Number Puzzles task presents equations as trains. And, finally, the Number Series task is presented as an abacus toy where students search for patterns. All of these formats have been extensively tried out with students and have been found to be engaging and to tap into important quantitative reasoning skills. 

4. Achievement Testing (if needed)

Not all candidates must take achievement tests, which will be scheduled through winter. The MAP scores serve as achievement results for most SPS students in Grades 1-8. Non-SPS students will be administered an achievement test if cognitive test scores are at the 87th percentile (98th for eighth graders) or higher. Private-school students who have ERB or other nationally normed achievement test scores no older than the previous March may submit those in lieu of SPS achievement testing. SPS kindergarten students with cognitive scores at the 90th percentile or higher do not require achievement testing to be eligible for Spectrum. SPS kindergarten students who achieve cognitive scores at or above the 98th percentile must take an achievement test and score at or above the 95th percentile to be eligible for Highly Capable Services (HCC/APP).

For those students who require achievement testing, the the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (grades K-8) will be given. 

NOTE: Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch or who are English Language Learners, who demonstrate cognitive ability in at least one out of three areas, and who have strong teacher/educator input, may receive additional cognitive testing and may also receive additional reading and math achievement testing in the academic area in which they did not meet the performance threshold. [Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Sections 392-170-065 and 392-170-060 focused on nondiscrimination in the use of tests and nondiscrimination in the review of test results.]

5. Test and Eligibility Results

A Multidisciplinary Selection Committee reviews each candidate's test scores and Teacher Rating Scale to determine eligibility. Scores are a break point and are not absolute qualifiers or disqualifiers; teacher input is an important consideration. Decision letters with all test results are mailed as soon as possible in February. Test scores and eligibilities are reported by mail ONLY and are not reported early by phone, email or fax.

Here are the general testing criteria. See the Services and Programs page for more detail on services and programs as well as program sites.

Highly Capable Services, including Highly Capable Cohort (formerly Accelerated Progress Program): Students may be tested in Grades K-8 during the fall testing window. Requires 98th-plus percentile in two areas on CogAT, and 95th-plus percentile in reading and math on MAP or other achievement tests. All Advanced Learning programs are open to these students. Students in Grades 9-11 will be offered a spring testing opportunity for Highly Capable Services eligibility

Spectrum: Students may be tested in Grades K-7. Requires 87th-plus percentile in two areas of CogAT, and 87th-plus percentile in reading and math on MAP or other achievement tests. Exception is kindergarten, which requires a 90th-plus percentile on CogAT but achievement tests are waived.
The Spectrum and Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALO) programs are open to these students.

6. Appeals

Specific information on how to appeal is included in eligibility and/or initial review letters and is available on the Appeal Process web page. Private assessments will only be considered during the appeal process.

7. Enrollment in Programs

If the candidate is identified for an Advanced Learning program, he or she will NOT automatically be enrolled in a particular program or school. Families must do this separately and before the winter enrollment deadline because a number of enrollment options are available for the AL programs. Families unsure which to choose may read more about the programs and program sites on our Advanced Learning Programs page. Please see our Enrollment page to learn how to enroll your child.

Summer/New Student Testing

Summer testing is for students who move to Seattle after the October 2 application deadline — it is not for students who wish to retest, private school students who live in the city, or students in the system who happened to have missed the fall deadline. (Those students must follow the regular fall testing dates for placement consideration next year. Click here to review the Fall/Regular Testing Schedule.)

If you are new to Seattle, it is after October 2, and you want to have your child tested so that he or she may be placed in Advanced Learning programs next fall, please:

1. Fill out a Parent/Guardian Permission Form by the August deadline. For summer testing only, we accept fax and email submissions. See contact information on our main page. Application packets will be available here by late June.

2. Enroll your student in Seattle Public Schools by the August deadline. Students must be enrolled by that deadline in order to be eligible for testing. (Follow standard neighborhood-school enrollment; you don't need to choose a school yet.) Click here for the Enrollment web page.

After your permission form is received and your enrollment is verified, you'll receive an assigned, mid- to late-August test date. The Advanced Learning Office will notify you of results at the end of August, and you'll have until September 30 to choose a program and/or school if your child is deemed eligible. Note that SPS-administered cognitive testing is required for all students unless they have paperwork from another public school verifying participation in a highly capable program with accompanying qualifying test results.

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