Friday, October 30, 2020

Minutes from 10/27/20 Meeting

  HiCap Parents Council Meeting

via Zoom
October 27, 2020

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Participants: Amity Butler, Gavin Doyle, Tessa Blocksom, Carson Sanderson, Audrey Kozel, Angie Nancock, Steven Rubenstein, Anja Wade, Nancy Johnson, Stephanie Corrigan, Jasmine?, Austina, Jennifer Herrman, Sean Qu, Terri Kashi, Starks Qing, Lauren Lewis, Cooper Brix, Veronica Webb, Liz Smith


Meeting summary Part 1

Hicap Screening and Testing (update from Amity)

Students who are seeing HiCap testing for the first time are those who need to be screened using NNAT3. Students who are already single qualified would be tested with IOWA.

There are 393 students in 6th and 7th grades who need to be screened. They can be screened by NNAT3 remotely. The process will be to distribute district devices to those students who do not already have them, as installation of the app for screening is more challenging than distribution of devices.

A similar process was followed last year for online algebra testing.

Old district devices need to be updated to make large scale screening feasible.

Once the process has been shown successful in grades 6-7, the devices can be collected and 5th graders can be tested.

Currently, screening grades K-4 is on pause. Principals are being queried frequently about when screening will take place.

Services for students single qualified in math (update from Amity)

Fourth and 5th grade math students qualified for HiCap math are either receiving services through the school’s EAP (if available), or through an online program called Ingenuity. Students are seeing a large jump in expectations when jumping up 2 grade levels of math, and it is still more challenging not seeing a teacher every day and learning how to receive online instruction. Amity is receiving feedback from teachers and parents, who have provided great ideas to improve the program.

Austina asked whether and when to invite Cathy Davis, principal of Ruby Bridges, back to provide feedback about the programs they have implemented. There is specific interest in earing how they are utilizing iReady scores and group testing. There was general interest in inviting Cathy Davis back after the first grading quarter has been completed. Hillarie also asked whether other school principals are ever invited to join the meetings. Amity is responsible for inviting principals; ideally, there would be at least 1 principal representative from each level of school (e.g. elementary, middle and high), but it is challenging to get commitments from busy principals or vice/assistant principals.

Amity has access to all of the iReady scores from the district. She is able to ask students to have secondary assessments if she believes the results are inaccurate.


Amity sends all Schoology issues to Tracy Malloy, who has the greatest contact with the company providing the program.

Next meeting

Austina suggested the next meeting should be in early December (2-4). Austina asked Amity to follow up with Cathy Davis to find out whether she is available during that week.

Middle school/high school math –

Carson stated she has 2 students doing Algebra 2 this year, one in high school and one in middle school. She stated that while the course content is similar, the policies set by the teachers are vastly different: one teacher allows quizzes to be re-taken for 100% credit, supporting a growth mind set, while the other teacher allows re-takes of quizzes on which students have scored below 75% to be retaken for up to 75% credit. She suggested that there should be some kind of alignment within the district with respect to growth mindset or not.

In addition, at the middle school level, grades are not rounded up, while in high school they are rounded up. Again, this is a place for creation of consistency.  

Documentation of issues at the high school level

Austina created a living document outlining the issues observed at the high school level. The result is a stand alone document pasted below for completeness of the meeting summary:


HiCap High School Issues & Concerns


ALL - What is the Math progression for triple jump math students. What classes will be offered to them when they get to high school? And can there be options that are not just more and more calculus.

IHS – IB program won’t allow testing in HL 2 as 11th graders, and so our double jump or triple jump kids can’t test in the appropriate level of math the year that they actually take the class. Maybe inserting a year of AP Statistics or other math courses *before* IB math would be a better solution, to better align with the IB program?


ALL - Pre-requisites for science are enforced or not enforced in different schools in different ways. WHS allows students to skip intro science classes and go straight to AP classes. BHS requires all pre-reqs for science to be met, even for hicap students. NCHS requires some level of pre-reqs but could be via self-study or an outside course.

IHS, BHS, NCHS – Lack of rigorous science offering for 9th grade students. Previously, there was a pre-IB Chemistry/Biology class at Inglemoor, but it doesn’t exist anymore. Pre-AP Biology/Chemistry does exist at WHS however, and it seems to work very well to prepare hicap 9th graders for AP science courses that follow. Why isn’t this pre-IB/AP Chemistry/Biology course offered at all of the high schools?

BHS – BHS is not allowing freshmen to take AP classes as a freshman. BHS requires student to take biology and chemistry before they can take AP classes in those subjects. According to course catalog BHS allows students to skip biology to take AP Biology, but parents have been told they could not. There are no 9th graders registered in AP Bio this year in bothell. There are 9th graders in chemistry in bothell this year.

English & History

BHS – Gen Ed & Pre-AP English. They are SO different, the level that they are taught at, the expectations are so extremely different. Coming from AAP English in middle school, choosing Gen Ed English in high school was much too easy, stuff he was learning in 3rd grade. There are no due dates, only suggestions.

NCHS, IHS – Gen Ed English 9 was removed at north creek and inglemoor last year, in favor of having separate hicap sections. HiCap sections of pre-AP English 9 at North Creek happened last year. This year, however, those hicap 9th grade students were allowed to opt in to pre-AP English 10, and NO hicap section of pre-AP English 9 was offered. However, the content in pre-AP English 10 is a lot darker, and parents were warned it may not be appropriate. There is no HiCap clustering happening, even in the 10th grade classes. It was not clear to the parents that the only hicap option this year for 9th graders was skipping to 10th grade English. Last year’s 9th grade English hicap cohort was really powerful as a transition from AAP, and lots of disappointment that it didn’t happen this year.

IHS – similar situation at Inglemoor for 9th grade history, and a separate hicap section was offered last year. Was it offered this year?

IHS – Did Inglemoor offer HiCap English 9 sections this year?

NCHS, IHS – Ripple effect of offering different HiCap courses at North Creek and Inglemoor. We don’t have great ways to identify kids entering in 9th grade, so this is not fully equitable when we have hicap specific course choices that aren’t available to other students. What if a student is newly enrolled and didn’t participate in earlier district universal screening?

ALL - Choice of content for HiCap students that are sensitive, especially novels for English courses. Very dark content in many of these books that they read. Hard to make that transition for some of our students. Not a balance of topics. Almost all books center on characters dying. And now there are even fewer selections with more limited reading during distance learning. Would like some uplifting books to round out the heavy stuff. Need to keep things content appropriate, not just reading level. During pandemic, particularly tough time to be reading challenging/dark material. Particularly concerning books: “Stuck in Neutral” “Beloved” “Hate List” “This Boy’s Life” “Tangerine”

Syllabus & Course Catalog

ALL – Different philosophy at different schools. North Creek & WHS, if you think that class is a good approach for you, go for it. Other schools there is a paternalism to not allow kids to take those challenges on for themselves.

ALL – Course catalog isn’t accurate with prerequisites, or may show prerequisites that aren’t enforced. 

ALL – Not having syllabi for classes is a big problem. It’s hard to get any concrete information about classes during registration to be able to make an informed decision. No idea about what books/content will be covered, what topics, what pacing. Even curriculum night doesn’t typically cover this, and it’s too late – focus is on grading, not on the actual topics of content.

ALL – Each high school handles summer work differently, whether there is summer work required for that class or nothing at all differs by school and changes year to year. Some schools require kids to notice that there is summer work on a website, but no proactive communication to parents/students. You don’t even know for sure what class your student is enrolled in until after school starts, so how does a kid know for sure which summer work they should be preparing? What if a counselor registers a kid for a more advanced class, but they are unaware of the summer work expectation?

ALL – Inability to transfer courses without taking an F in a class, after the first 10 days of school. This makes registration, course catalog and syllabus issues super important to fix, because once a kid starts taking a class, they are pretty much stuck.

ALL – Who makes decisions about what goes into the course catalog? When do these decisions get made? How does this come about? What role does Amity have? How can HiCap needs be better represented in course offerings & syllabi?

ALL – The “secret decoder ring” problem. You have to ask for certain courses, and yes, kids are allowed to skip certain prerequisites as a matter of course, but it’s not written down anywhere. Some pre-requisites are listed in the course catalog that are rarely enforced, or rarely enforced for HiCap students, but parents/students who want to follow the rules feel bound by what is published in the course catalog and don’t think to ask for an exception. It’s not equitable if you have to ask for an exception, or have to be “in the know” to realize that certain classes are available or are particularly advised. Schools need to make the options visible to HiCap students during registration so they can make informed choices.

ALL - Counselors who are telling students old information, who block students from accessing courses based on pre-requisites, making students need to appeal to the principal to get the courses they need. Not all students know to ask, or parents who are willing to insist. Not all counselors are aware of HiCap students needs and know the course progression. Counselors not encouraging hicap kids to take advanced classes. Some counselors are much better than others at guiding HiCap students. How can we get training to all counselors? Or centralize HiCap students to one counselor who develops expertise in this?


ALL - Official high school grading scales are subtly different between different teachers and different schools. Some teachers allow retaking tests, others don't. Some teachers allow regaining full credit for retakes or late work, some only part credit, some not at all. Some teachers round up from 92.9 to an A and others don't. If a kid stumbles in their math progression, sometimes these practices can have long term impact in discouraging a student from pursuing math. Furthermore, middle school doesn’t always follow the high school grading practices, which is important when so many high school math courses are commonly taken in the middle school years. Are we taking a growth mindset approach with grading, or not.


ALL – It’s a rough transition for HiCap students coming from a cohort-based AAP environment to the high school environment where they will not only be mixed with the overall school population, but may often be placed in classes with upperclassmen, sometimes as the only freshman or a very small group. Having some way to better transition HiCap students from AAP to the high school environment would be desirable. The HiCap Pre-AP English 9 class sections at IHS and NCHS worked very well for this. Why were they discontinued? Should this practice be expanded? It doesn’t have to be English. A Hicap 9th grade pre-AP Bio/Chemistry class could also serve this purpose.

ALL - Are there any parent & student surveys about whether classes and course availability is working for HiCap students? This would be a powerful way to figure out what is/isn’t working. A student survey of hicap high school students would probably be the most actionable. Note that this year’s senior class is the first HiCap cohort that started in 2nd grade and had the full sequence of AAP through middle school.

ALL – Schools with different philosophies & very different course offerings, and lack of ability to be able to switch between schools make this an equity issue. If the program in your neighborhood high school isn’t a fit for your particular student, you’re stuck, because waivers aren’t available anymore. This used to be much more fluid with kids able to move between schools if needed.

ALL - Making sure classes offered in middle school are appropriate for the trajectory into the high school. In particular, in writing and reading comprehension, if the plan is for freshmen to jump straight into 10th grade English, are our hicap kids actually prepared for that level of English from middle school, and the volume of reading material? Whether they’ve been appropriately prepared in AAP for a serious science lab course in high school.

ILHS – Differentiation for HiCap kids at Innovation Lab is proving to be super challenging and not happening well yet. Growing pains.

ALL – Pandemic specific issue with kids needing to do self-teaching if they really want to be ready for AP exams this year.