Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Minutes from 5/7/24 Meeting

HiCap Parents Council Meeting

May 7, 2024

Discussion topic

  • Emily Kircher Morris podcast- This particular podcast seemed focused on getting buy-in from teachers and encouraging them that they can do it a little bit at a time. The podcast itself was surface-level in terms of details on UDL (universal design for learning). 

  • Can be tricky to challenge hicap kids–how to motivate them to push themselves? Are they going for the grade? Diving deep on a topic because they love it?

  • Most transformative part of UDL is the “free-form” accommodations (use any material, demonstrate mastery in any way, etc.) BUT this is very difficult for a teacher to pull off. Tough to have all these materials readily available. 

  • Helpful for 2E kids, esp those who don’t have a diagnosis. This is an equity issue since not all kids who need a 504/IEP will ever get one. 

  • NSD does this better than we sometimes think: 1:1 devices, tech in the classroom, sound systems in every classroom. District is working on policies surrounding things like AI, etc. 

Amity updates

  • No WAETAG this year, but NAGC will be in Seattle Nov 21-24! They have a parent day on Saturday 11/23. $50 for the entire day. There will be opportunities for parent volunteers-volunteer by manning a table for half the day, and go to the conference for the other half day. 

  • MHS testing: will have to check and make sure iPad data gets recorded properly even if the device sleeps. Naglieri does not seem to have provision for giving a test one grade ahead. Had some small test administration issues–iPads lock after only 2 mins, would be good if we could force through the 5 minute wait, would be nice if there was a kiosk app or if the screen locked on the test. 

    • Angie checked–all 14 1st graders from FLE had scores submitted so the 2 minute time out did not appear to lose any data. 

  • MHS verbal: attempting to test thinking/reasoning skills, not reading. Some of the pictures did have cultural background knowledge required. For the remaining pilot test sessions we will try to pilot the quantitative and nonverbal, instead of quantitative and verbal. 

Middle school update-Skyview request to change AAP classes for science and social studies

  • Skyview teachers have adjusted their briefing paper. It will go through one more edit and then go to the superintendent. 

  • Whatever happens, we need to be prepared to work with the model and address concerns respectfully. We will do better to listen to all sides. 

  • Detracking and equitable identification of hicap are working from the same foundational principle: kids are capable of more than we think, if we can figure out how to remove their “ceiling”

  • If NSD allows Skyview to change models, other middle schools will likely follow. 

Looking ahead

  • Next year Amity will be executive director of teaching and learning with responsibilities to oversee HiCap, curriculum and instruction, MTSS, career and technical education, ELD, assessment, instructional technology. She will no longer have a regional assignment. Regional assignments have been consolidated to two: one for south and west, one for east and north, and one doing all the high schools. 

High school math

  • 112 10th or 11th graders (mostly 11th graders) will be in calc BC across the districts (minus IHS since they have a different structure with IB)

  • College credit may not actually be that valuable at this level. Many future STEM majors will have to retake anyway. Better to offer the challenge rather than holding back because we can’t figure our a way to get them college credit. 

End of year data

  • 65 students have responded to the senior survey, almost double the total from last year!

  • Elections will open tomorrow. Last chance to inform Carson if you want to finish out your two year term but have not yet updated the spreadsheet. 

  • Maybe schools that still pull families from outside their boundaries could still host a playdate council sponsored playdate, and the council could also do four regional playdates. We would need volunteers to spearhead these regional playdates. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Minutes from 4/16/24 Meeting

Council Notes

Middle School Updates

   “Evidence Base for Advanced Learning Programs” reading is based on the Skyview Middle School request for changing

   Austina: “De-tracking” removing tracks (i.e., low performers/remedial tracks); education has moved away from this in recent years; not only does this improve low performers, it can improve the situation for high performers; however, research is very mixed (mixed together there is a small positive effect)

   Does Skyview Middle meet the law the state is required to provide? Does not seem to at this point. Changing curriculum does not solve behavior problems; HiCap students who are not motivated may do the minimum required


Amity Updates

   Senior survey

-    Angie put results in a Jot form; Amity would like to send this out district-wide in the next few weeks

-    Added a question: “what was the highest level of math you took in HS?”

-    Provided to seniors with a HiCap designation

-    Questionnaire needs to be edited; it is a bit long; need to look at responses from past surveys, perhaps low response questions could be eliminated

   State is transitioning grant process

   Discussion regarding PD for staff; should PD be offered for parents/community?



Council Questions/Updates

   Skyview meeting updates:

-    Amity asked for a briefing paper from Skyview, was given a presentation:

   Skyview does not understand what HiCap/district does (the presentation was very one-sided); Amity asking Skyview to re-evaluate pros and cons, making sure they are fully developed representing multiple view points

   Not a “listening” session; select data provided: believe acceptance criteria changed in 2018 and too many students are identified as HiCap; want to continue backfilling classes (not in the current CBA)

   Carson’s question to Skyview teachers: how is what you’re proposing different from what you’re requesting?

-    Conversation should focus on curriculum decisions not student numbers (i.e., backfilling)

-    Curriculum needs to focus on scaffolding 2E and gifted students who may not be motivated to do HiCap-level work

-    Next steps: Amity and Melissa Riley will meet with Skyview to rework their briefing paper/presentation; possibly form a task force to evaluate all the shifts in middle school in recent years; HiCap subcommittee to create a position statement

   Concerns about Edgenuity adequately preparing students for SBA testing:

-    SBA scores will reflect who is using Edgenuity and who is not

-    Terra concerned that the compressed math curriculum may not provide enough repetition to build foundational skills

-    Last year, 62% got 4s, 29% got 3s (91% meet or exceed grade level)

   Large HiCap math class sizes (34 students at FLE):

-    School will have to decide what to do on a case by case basis

   Future of NSD HiCap:

-    Seattle Public Schools has been in the news recently; negative reception

-    Bellevue and Lake Washington districts are contemplating changes

Council Business

   Elementary play dates:

-    What is the value? If students aren’t transitioning to HiCap schools, why are certain students invited and not all? Cost?

   Value is not based on the school but rather the cohort of parents; strong value in building parent community

-    PTAs push back about this being exclusive/insular

-    Change to district-wide rather than school-specific gatherings? Regional?

-    Perhaps make play dates inclusive, everyone is welcome, but the topic will be HiCap

-    Could have value in middle school meet-ups, more for parents

-    Woodmoor, Maywood, Wellington, Crystal Springs, Cottage Lake still have students that move to a HiCap school; value in meeting other families doing the same

-    Create a survey to ask NSD community about play dates and whether it is good for parents, kids, or both?

   Annual financial audit: Terra and Becky to complete

   Upcoming election:

-    Communications, voting can be separated and led by different people; timeline is 10 days for nominations and 10 days for voting; meet offsite to transition positions

-    Holly will be the Election Chair: manage nomination forms and tally votes

-    Meeting to be scheduled week of June 3rd; survey to be sent out to decide the date

-    Elections will begin in May; possibly send into to PTA for increased distribution

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Minutes from 3/5/24 Meeting

HiCap Parents Council

March Meeting

District Office

3/5/2024 - 10 AM - 12 Noon


In Person Attendance: Carson S, Ashley W., Austina, Liz P, Jen C., Terra, Amity, Liz P.

Zoom Meeting Attendance: Veronica W, Faustina, Julienne, Angie H, Elizabeth W., Sean Q., Kungpern W., Vanita D.,

Zoom Meeting Late Arrivals: Imen, Elisa, Holly M, Karen S., Nikhat

Secretary: Liz P.

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, April 16th



     None this month.

     If you have recommendations, please send to Carson.

     Next month may look at middle school HiCap courses and value of having HiCap students in differentiated classrooms.

Amity Updates

     Regional meetings are complete.

-       Amity feels they went well and were a good use of time.

-       There were no surprising questions.

-       Zoom meeting will be posted. Amity will let us know when it is posted.

-       Maywood and Wellington were pushing to start Hicap services next academic year. This will not happen due to items that need to be completed (construction, planning related, etc.). (Note: New CFO and new fiscal process requires changes like these to begin in December at the latest.)

     Professional Development

     Recent Session for ELA

     One teachers from each school where integrated program is; about 15 educators

     These educators were not EAP teachers in the past

     A positive session where teachers reported rich conversations in the classroom and being impressed by what the students are contributing to discussion (high level than anticipated)

     When the teachers can work together as a grade level team, they seem to function best

     There is no one way that schools are approaching this (in regards to if teachers are partnering, working as a grade level team, etc.). It depends on number of kids that need to be served, how many classrooms are in the grade in general, etc.

     Lockwood ex. from Jenn C: teachers are reporting that they love the rollout. Second grade team is considering dividing into quartiles (so additional differentiation beyond just EAP & Gen Ed; 4 levels).

     Amity notes that individual school differences are ok, SO LONG as HiCap students continue to receive the services they need to to prepare them for middle school. (Amity is working with Lockwood.)

     Rolling PD over the next several years. All new integrated schools will get 4 sessions of professional development. Schools that received PD this year will get 2 sessions next year.

     Different schools are requesting different topics for PD.

     Currently, the PD focus has been digging into curriculums that NSD already has so they can be used fully and HiCap kids can be better served.

     Final Testing Thoughts/Feedback

     Spacing out the testing sessions continues to be an issue in some cases.

     Would be good for schools to have backup IPads that are charged.

     School needs to provide at least 30 minutes buffer before the end of the test and the end of the school day. (Ex. Kokanee was giving proctor pressure to get students back to the classroom to pack up and get final notes from teacher, etc.)

     Riverside could be installed on all IPads

     Angie: Riverside reports that the browser version on Chrome & IPads is actually more stable than the app version. (Note: We could create a QR Code).

     We have Riverside for at least 1 more year.

     Test proctoring is a paid position. Office starts getting proctors ready in the fall.

     Process for training could be better. Even when proctor is placed with a mentor proctor, they are often assigned to different rooms.

     Multidisciplinary Selection Team (MST)

     Coming up on the 13th.

     45 appeals that will be reviewed this year

     To appeal, student must have passed screening test (and they did not meet standards on IOWA)

     Vast majority will not get decision overturned

     Best items to submit for review would be a letter about an extenuating circumstance (ex. Grandparent died on day of test) or test scores that show extreme anomaly.

     Results should be available to families by the 22nd

     Middle School Services

     For at least ten years, conversations have been happening at middle schools regarding wanting different service delivery for HiCap students

     Does the Hicap Council have a position about middle school AAP classes?

     No, not officially. But something related from the past would be saveourchallenge.blogspot.com

     Alternative view available from amle.org

     Skyview Middle School (feeds into North Creek)

     Already have some differences about their service delivery. Generally, they are advocates for having a spectrum of learners in each classroom.

     Out in front for wanting to change service delivery in ‘24 - ‘25 academic year. Met with District Officials and were told No. Came back and still wanted to make a change. They were instructed by Superintendent Tolley to write a briefing paper.

     Proposals: 1 - HiCap students would be clustered in integrated classrooms; 2 - Do away with AAP for science and social studies

     Goal for educators to have balanced classrooms

     Amity suggests caution with further changes in middle schools as there have been many changes at this level for years.

     HiCapCouncil may want to start learning more so we can ultimately take a position on this. Sean, Skyview MS rep, is interested. Ashley and Liz P. have offered to have discussion with interested parents. Asked that Amity supply info for April Discussion question/article.

Council Questions/Updates

     “It feels like there is a lot of pressure for 8th grade students in the highest math track to retake Algebra II/Trig when whey get to high school (unless, as stated to one class “they have a high A and the teacher’s recommendation to move on.) They were also told that College in the High School classes are equivalent to AP courses and that they should not take an AP class and a CHS class concurrently during their freshman year. (So they shouldn’t take Precalc 1 & 2 along with something like AP Physics 1 or AP World History.) Doing so requires students and parents to sign something equivalent to an acknowledgement of going against medical advice.”

     “Concerns that some families/staff are having more challenges with the adjustment to PreAlgebra 1 & 2.”

     There have been big changes to the program/curriculum and elementary educators and families could be facing new challenges.

     It is essentially required for teachers to be teaching math every single day.

     Hicap Council’s position has always been communicating to parents that if your child qualifies for a spot in HiCap, you should strongly consider accepting it. But this should ve revisited given the math leap. It may not be best to recommend students who qualify in fifth grade to join the accelerated math (2 ½ year jump, essentially), particularly without working outside of the classroom to catch up.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Minutes from 2/6/24 Meeting

February 6, 2024

Discussion Topic-Polyvagal Theory

  • The theory of Dr. Stephen Porges; role of the vagus nerve in emotion regulation, social connection and fear response
  • Human brain constantly scanning environment for safety
  • feeling unsafe-fight or flight
  • continuous unsafe environment, move down the ladder, 
  • autistic meltdown would be a good example of a shutdown response; or some sort of major kid tantrum; you can tell they are no longer processing the world around them
  • teachers working with 1 or more students with sensory issues, CPI training
  • neurodiversity affirming environment

Amity Updates-

  • Glitches with testing companies; looking at new options
  • Getting close to finishing with testing; should be done by the end of the week
  • If students missed 2x, they might need to come to us, reach out to us
  • Unenrolled students testing 1/25, 1/30
  • EAP “shopping”, applying/transferring to a different site. You can apply, however it might not be approved
  • Accept designation/location by 2/28
  • Can’t give schools more staffing if they get extra kids
  • Q-How do parents know if student was tested or need to do makeup? – Schools should be telling parents when testing will be happening.
  • Office manager, secretary, Principal, and Assistant Principal all get notified of testing dates/times
  • Regional mtgs- taking place in the NSD boardroom, new to Elem. HiCap families
    • 2/6 East
    • 2/7 South
    • 2/13 North
    • 2/15 West
  • Emily Kircher-Morris: Amity reached out to her last week; have her come via Zoom; advertise to parents; occur this spring
  • NAGC Conf. in Seattle next year, Nov 21-24 ‘24 

Council Questions/Updates-

  • “10 Reasons to Choose EAP” document:we should revise now
  • Make a Google doc so we are able to edit and contribute 
  • Updates to reading/writing in integrated classrooms?- some classrooms are fabulous, others are working through it; there is a training on 2/27
  • Grading for elementary integrated ELA: grading at grade level
  • Sharing math choices document: shared on website; January email; give to 5th grade teachers; Amity to give to (5th grade) teachers

Monday, January 15, 2024

Minutes from 1/9/24 Meeting

HiCap Parents Council Meeting

January 9, 2024


  • Info nights for incoming families

    • Four dates are set for info nights, one for each region. In person, 6-7. 

    • Feb 6th: East, Feb 7th: South, Feb 13th: North, Feb 15th: West

    • Meetings will not be publicized generally but will be sent to families of newly qualified. If publicized generally the seats may fill up. There will be an additional meeting on the 27th from 6:30 to 7:30 for people who may have missed in person sessions. Trying to schedule a night for a Spanish session as well. Hicap office could use 2 microphone runners per session. 

    • Parents Council will try to fill those spots for microphone runners. Would also be a good opportunity to let new parents know about us, our newsletter, and our FB group. 

    • Families won’t get scores by this time but they will be informed if they qualify. 

    • We should create a signup for each night and get names to Amity

  • HiCap info video

    • Amity is going to release a voiceover and slides explaining the integrated model. Will be shared on the main hicap page to help answer questions about changes to the program. Should be shared later this week.

    • Amity is also doing visits to PTAs by request to answer questions about either newly qualified or the changes to the program. 

  • Time for an email to our mailing list?

    • Should we send an email after these meetings or before? We’ll have new subscribers after. 

    • We could send an email before explaining when families can expect an email with a placement notification. Could explain that it will come through email not mail, and it will include placement not scores. Families will start being notified on 1/29. Kids who did makeups may hear a little later. ALL families will be notified by 2/6. Decisions need to be made by 2/28. 

    • We could also publicize Austina’s talk at Bear Creek for reluctant writers. 

    • Ekta and Ashley can help with writing newsletter. 

  • Question about movement to middle school.

    • AAP is middle school hicap program. EAP kids automatically move into AAP and alg 1 (unless families opt out of al 1). Also kids can qualify in 5th grade. Many qualify in 5th and begin hicap services in 6th. 

    • We need to share info for 5th grade families choosing a math path. Do we share that info in Jan or Feb? Families will need to make this decision in Feb so some info should come in Jan. Also those that are having a conference in early Feb may want to be prepared to ask this question at their conference. 

    • We have written info from Austina that we shared on our FB page last year. Should make necessary edits and share that on our website. Mention in Jan newsletter that the decision is coming up, and link to that info. 

  • Additional newsletter notes

    • Share Amity’s voiceover in Jan newsletter. 

    • Maybe post in broader NSD FB discussion group inviting people to join our mailing list before we send out Jan newsletter.