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    Advanced Learning FAQ

    Please Note Update to Referral WindowThe Advanced Learning Department has postponed the opening of the 2020-21 referral window due to the possibility of COVID-19’s effect on Saturday testing. With between 5,000 and 10,000 testing sessions scheduled each year, scheduling tests & then rescheduling would cause more confusion for families than modifying the referral window. The Advanced Learning website will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. Please contact us with any questions at

    Tentative Referral Window Dates for SPS students:

    • Grades K-8 August 28 –December 7


    When is the referral window?

    For the 2020-21 school year, the referral window opens on August 28 – December 7, 2020

    How can I refer my student?

    Families of all Seattle Public School students have a Source account for secure communication of news, attendance, test scores, and other important information. If you have not yet activated your Source account, you will need to set up your access to the Source in order to submit an Advanced Learning referral. To set up your access please visit the Source Resource Page and/or click here to set up a Source account. You will be able to both refer your student and schedule them for testing on the Source.


    What assessment will my student be taking?

    All students are required to take a cognitive assessment, the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT3). Some

    students may be required to take achievement tests if they do not have current achievement scores administered by the Seattle Public Schools. The NNAT3 takes around 45 minutes.

    How should my student prepare for testing?

    While there is nothing your student needs to do to study for the Advanced Learning testing process, there are several things you can do to prepare your child for the day of testing. Those include a good night’s sleep, relaxed attitude, and good nutrition/hydration on testing day. Food and drinks are not allowed in testing rooms, but a short break is scheduled for water and bathroom.  We do not recommend that families purchase test preparation materials. Find more information here.

    Is this a paper and pencil test or online?

    This is paper and pencil “fill in the bubble” type testing. K-2nd graders mark their answers in a test booklet, 3rd-8th grade have a test book, and transfer their answers to an answer sheet.

    What should we bring to testing?

    Just your student! We will supply all the testing materials; pencils, scratch paper, erasers, etc.

    Do I (the adult) need to stay at the test site?

    You do not need to stay at the testing site for the duration of testing, but we recommend that you don’t go far. If you choose to leave the testing site, we need you to write your phone number when you check your student in for testing.

    If I miss my test can I reschedule?

    Advanced Learning tests close to 5,000 students every year. With the challenges of Covid-19 and because you had the opportunity to self-schedule, we do not make up tests for students unless there are extreme circumstances such as illness or accident. Sports games, birthdays, and other conflicts of schedule do not qualify. If you believe you have an extreme circumstance, please click here.


    What are the eligibility criteria?

    The Multidisciplinary Selection Committee uses a preponderance of evidence in determining a child’s eligibility for Advanced Learning Programs and Services. Evidence that is collected demonstrates significantly above average academic ability, creativity, and task commitment. Historically for Highly Capable eligibility we have gathered cognitive assessment near the 98%ile, academic assessment in reading and math near the 95%ile, and teacher recommendations. The Selection Committee also accesses any data available in our district data collection system to give a broader picture of student abilities.

    When and how will I receive my results?

    Once the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee has decided on your student’s eligibility, you will be notified via email and/or Robo-call that the decision has been made. Scores will only be released to families when a decision has been made. Scores are not released before an eligibility decision is made. For all families who submitted a referral, or scheduled a test, via The Source, your student’s Eligibility Decision will be accessible in your Source account. For families who submitted non-English referral forms, your Eligibility Decision will be sent to you via email and/or letter. Decisions will be posted to the Source on a rolling basis from mid-December.

    How long does my student keep their eligibility?

    Students keep their eligibility if they’re continuously enrolled in Seattle Public Schools.

    If my Highly Capable student leaves the district and then comes back, can they resume their Highly Capable eligibility?

    Students can leave the district for one year and retain their eligibility. Students out of district for greater than one year will need to be retested.

    If you have left for one year and intend to come back to the district you will need to participate in Open Enrollment in February i.e.; participating in Open Enrollment February 2020 for the September 2020-21 school year.


    Will my student has been newly identified as Highly Capable will they automatically be enrolled in the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC)?

    No, your student will not be automatically enrolled in your Highly Capable Cohort school. To transition into HCC you will need to participate in Open Enrollment/ School Choice, normally held in the first two weeks of February. However, HCC students have until May 31 to submit their Choice Form for transferring into their Pathway school.


    Can I appeal my students results?

    Yes. Families of students who receive the results of Not Eligible for Advanced Learning services and programs, or eligible for Advanced Learner or Continuing Advanced Learner may appeal the committee's decision. For families who choose to appeal and who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program (FRL), SPS will arrange for additional testing during the appeals process free of charge. Please CONTACT US HERE as soon as the eligibility decision has been posted.

    Universal Testing

    Why do we provide universal screening for 2nd grade students?

    The practice of universal screening addresses a critical issue of access and equity. Across our district, not all potentially highly capable students are referred for services. The screening is one mechanism that provides teachers and the district the opportunity to reach out to families who may not otherwise refer a child for our Highly Capable program.

    Is this practice of universal screening conducted in other districts?

    Yes. SPS is one of several districts, which screen in primary grades. OSPI issued a special commendation to the Seattle Schools Advanced Learning office in 2016 for this initiative, calling it a best practice in the pursuit of equity.

    For Teachers

    How does the current teacher recommend a child for fall testing?

    A link will be available on PowerSchool for teachers to recommend students in the spring beginning May 30. Using the Teacher Rating Scale, teachers may recommend students they believe have the potential for being identified as academically Highly Capable. Teachers, as part of the recommendation process, may wish to discuss the recommendation.  Once recommendations are completed, the Advanced Learning office will contact families and invite them to fill out an online referral form on the Source. Although a teacher can recommend a student for testing, only the parent/ guardian may complete a referral for testing.

    Will professional development be available for teachers to strengthen instructional approaches and planning for the needs of the child above and well above standard?

    The Advanced Learning office has proposed a wide variety of Professional Development classes listed in Employee Self-Service (ESS) under Training and Events. Sample titles included: Strategies for Differentiation and Culturally Responsive Teaching, Working With Advanced Learners at Your Site (Gifted 101), Social Justice and Differentiated Instruction, Advanced Learning Policy in 2190SP, Creating a Socially Just Learning Environment, and Twice Exceptional Learners.

    In addition, we are developing new courses aligned to MTSS practices and serving the needs of the Advanced Learner and recognizing giftedness across cultures, as part of our summer and school year course offerings.



    Gifted Characteristics Checklist For Underrepresented Populations 

    CLED Scales (Culturally, Linguistically, and/or Economically Diverse)

    Talented and Gifted Learners and Special Populations of Gifted Learners 

    RCW 28A.150.220(3)(g)(3) The instructional program of basic education provided by each school district shall include: (g) Programs for highly capable students under RCW 28A.185.010 through 28A.185.030.

    SPS Policy 2190 Superintendent Procedures for Highly Capable/Advanced Learning Seattle Public Schools Policy and Procedures for Highly Capable Students and Advanced Learners