HiCap FAQs

This page contains answers to commonly-asked questions about Highly Capable Services at Northshore School District. We regularly make additions to this page to reflect the needs of our parent community. This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 1. 

Note: Algebra Readiness testing is administered by the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (CIA) Department. If you have questions regarding Algebra Readiness testing, the CIA Department is best-equipped to answer them. You can find their website and contact information on this page: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

General Questions

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction is defined as a way of teaching in which teachers anticipate and respond to a variety of student needs in the classroom. To meet students’ needs, teachers may differentiate by modifying one or more of the following:

  • Content (what is being taught)
  • Process (how it is taught)
  • Product (how students demonstrate their learning)

In a differentiated classroom, the teacher is constantly doing quick, formative assessments to determine the on-going needs of students and where the instruction might be modified to ensure student learning is happening. The instruction that is developed as a response to assessment will look different depending on student need.

When possible, a classroom teacher may choose to group students who demonstrate advanced learner needs together for instructional purposes in a given content area. Differentiation can be structured in a variety of ways including:

  • Whole group
  • Small group
  • Individual instruction

What support is given to teachers who provide differentiated instruction?

Northshore’s teachers plan and facilitate lessons using grade level curriculum. Analysis of preassessment and formative assessment data is critical. Analysis of this data will guide a teacher’s instructional plan for all students, including those qualified as Highly Capable.

At any time, professional judgment can be used to access and/or construct lessons or materials to meet the needs of a diverse learning community. Resources available to support the work of teachers serving Highly Capable students within the In-Class model include:

  • Curriculum Resources – Often, standard grade level curriculum includes unit and/or lesson level enrichment and extensions.
  • HiCap Toolbox – An online resource for Northshore teachers. Akin to an “electronic file cabinet,” the Toolbox includes ideas for homework modification, unit level math extensions, learning menus, learning contracts, and short professional development modules.
  • TenMarks Math – TenMarks is a supplemental online math program that is designed to complement core math instruction through small group or blended learning models. Students in Grades 2-5 who are designated as Highly Capable in math, and served in the In-Class model, have been provided TenMarks accounts. Teachers and students now have access to math content through Algebra II. TenMarks is adaptive, offering scaffolded lessons, guided practice, inquiry-based tasks, and assessments. The curriculum can be tailored in scope and sequence, to meet students at their level of readiness. Student accounts are also accessible at home.
  • Reading and Writing Learning Progressions - Available to teachers, Learning Progressions are a tool illustrating how skill acquisition in reading and writing unfolds in a predictable way. The progressions allow for a teacher to intentionally select skills for students that increase in complexity and sophistication. Progressions are available for both reading and writing. In the content area of reading, teachers can access progressions for narrative and informational reading. Teachers also have access to progressions for informational writing, opinion writing, narrative writing, and the writing process.
  • Words Their Way - With Words Their Way, word work lessons are selected based on the learner's stage of development. As needed, students may be provided more advanced levels of word work experiences.

Is there a cost to participate in Highly Capable programs?

There is no fee for access to Highly Capable programs or services. Providing these educational services is part of a student’s basic educational right.

Does my student have to change schools?

Students do not need to move schools in order to receive Highly Capable services. Families can choose to remain at their neighborhood school and receive Highly Capable services at that location. If your student has qualified for Elementary Advanced Placement (EAP), they have the option of enrolling at an EAP site.

 

An overview of EAP can be found at this page: Elementary Advanced Placement.

If a new location opens, are students able to switch schools?

As much as possible, we want Highly Capable students and families to have the option of attending their neighborhood school. Should a neighborhood school site open, a family may have the option of transitioning to their neighborhood school. Families with this transition option would be contacted directly by the Highly Capable Department.

Accepting Services

Where do I find my student's access code? What is my student's ID number?

Your student's ID number and their access code are in the top-left corner of the letter you received from the Highly Capable Department. (See the example below - the access code is highlighted in yellow, and the student ID number is highlighted in blue). 

 

What were the thresholds for qualification?

You can find an explanation of the eligibility thresholds on this page: Eligibility Explained.

When will we know EAP sites for next year?

Elementary students who are qualified for Highly Capable services in both Math and Reading are eligible for EAP. An overview of EAP can be found at this page: Elementary Advanced Placement. EAP is offered at a handful of elementary schools. We are working with Transportation to finalize the list of EAP sites this year, and we hope to have this information in the next few weeks.

If you are considering EAP for your student, let us know by selecting "I want to reserve a spot in EAP" in the acceptance form. HiCap will contact you with your EAP site as soon as we have the list of locations. If you reserve a spot in EAP, then decide that you would prefer to remain at your home school, send an email to hicap@nsd.org.

HiCap at Middle School

What math class will my middle school student take?

Students with Highly Capable qualification transitioning to middle school, attend their home middle school and have the opportunity to enroll in AAP - Advanced Academic Placement - courses. A student with a HiCap Reading qualification may enroll in AAP ELA and AAP Social Studies. A student with a HiCap Math qualification may enroll in AAP Science, and follow their Math course trajectory.


Regarding math trajectory, a student transitioning from a Grade 5 EAP program, typically enrolls in AAP Math 6, which is 8th Grade Math, as 5th Grade EAP covers 7th Grade Math standards. A student transitioning from a Grade 5 neighborhood school program (in-class model) will have the opportunity to enroll in 7th Grade Challenge Math, a course compacting 7th and 8th grade Math standards. Students from an in-class model may also choose Math 6, as 7th Grade Challenge Math does skip 6th grade Math standards.


At any time, a family may choose the course that will best meet their student's needs, and a middle school counselor and/or the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Department (CIA) may be of help to you. 


Fifth grade students in EAP, or in the in-class model had opportunity to participate in Algebra Readiness testing. Algebra Readiness testing is supervised by the CIA Department. Questions about Algebra Readiness qualification and math pathway for HiCap students may best be addressed by Ms. Niki Arnold-Smith, narnoldsmith@nsd.org.

Is HiCap Math the same as Algebra Readiness?

HiCap eligibility testing and Algebra Readiness are separate processes, conducted by separate departments. Algebra Readiness testing is conducted by the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Department. 

How does Algebra Readiness affect my student's math course enrollment? 

Algebra Readiness testing and Highly Capable assessments are complete. The Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction department sent notifications to all students who are eligible to enroll in Algebra I. 

  • If your student passed Algebra Readiness testing, they will enroll in Algebra I next year regardless of HiCap eligibility. 
  • A current fifth-grader who passes Algebra Readiness testing will enroll in Algebra I in the fall of the following school year. 
  • A current fifth-grader who qualified for Highly Capable services, but did not pass Algebra Readiness testing, will enroll in Challenge Math 7. 

A flowchart displaying middle school math trajectories can be found here: Middle School Math Course Sequence. (Link opens a PDF)

How will a HiCap Math designation affect my student's science course enrollment?

Middle school students with HiCap Math designations are eligible to enroll in AAP Science courses. 

I heard someone talk about "triple jump" math and "double jump" math. What does that mean?

"Triple jump" refers to a 6th grade student in Algebra I, because they are three years ahead of grade level math. This is possible in two ways: 

  • A student passes the Algebra Readiness exam as a fifth-grader and enrolls in Algebra I as a sixth-grader.
  • A student takes an accelerated math course over the summer.

"Double jump" students go into Challenge Math 7 as 6th graders. Students with good academic standing in Challenge Math 7 will enroll in Algebra 1 in 7th grade, which is two years ahead of grade level in math.

Should my student take an accelerated math course over the summer?

Students are not required to do summer math acceleration - this is a personal decision for each family. 

  • If a current fifth grader without a HiCap Math qualification takes Accelerated Math 6 over the summer, they can enroll in Challenge Math 7 in sixth grade.
  • Current fifth graders with a HiCap Math qualification are already qualified to take Challenge Math 7 as sixth-graders. They do not need to take Accelerated Math 6.

Further information on accelerated math options can be found here: Accelerated Math Options.

How does a HiCap Reading designation affect my student's course options?

If your student has a Reading qualification, they will be placed in Highly Capable English and Highly Capable Social Studies.  

Still have questions? 

If your question wasn't answered on this page, send us an email at hicap@nsd.org. To expedite your request, please include your student's full name and student ID number in your email.