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    High School Advanced Learning and Highly Capable Pathways
    Posted on 11/13/2017

    Last month we surveyed families of students currently in grades 5-12 about improving access to Advanced Learning opportunities in high school. Thank you to the many families who provided feedback.

    In response to three open-ended questions, the top 20 ideas from each school community were analyzed and grouped thematically by an outside evaluator. We also held home language focus groups in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Somali.

    What We Heard

    We heard overwhelmingly that families want increased and equal access to advanced courses offered closer to home. We also heard questions and concerns about timing and grandfathering options.

    To view top-rated themes for each question, examples of specific participant’s thoughts and differences between types of schools, please view the Advanced Learning Engagement PresentationPDF. You can also read more on the Community Engagement webpage.

    Multiple solutions and ways to address community feedback were explored. A preferred recommendation was shared with the School Board’s Operations Committee on Nov. 2.

    The preferred recommendation is to develop regional Highly Capable (HC) pathways for students entering 9th grade beginning in 2019-20. Students in a high school HC pathway in 2018-19 will be grandfathered in their current pathway school. The suggested regional pathways are based on students’ attendance area high school.

    HC Pathway School and Attendance Area High Schools

    • Ballard - Ballard and Ingraham
    • Franklin - Franklin and Rainer Beach
    • Garfield - Garfield and Lincoln (opening 2019)
    • Roosevelt - Roosevelt and Nathan Hale
    • West Seattle - West Seattle and Chief Sealth

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Will families and students in Highly Capable (HC) still be able to apply to Ingraham’s accelerated International Baccalaureate (IB) program?

    • Yes. There will still be seats at IHS for students to opt in to IBX.
    • All students can apply through the open enrollment process to attend a high school with the IB program. Seats are limited based on capacity, and tiebreakers apply during the open enrollment window. Chief Sealth, Rainier Beach and Ingraham will have IB programs.

    Why is SPS proposing a regional pathway model for students in HC?

    • Multiple factors drove the need for these proposed changes to HC. First, Garfield High School (GHS) cannot sustain the current HC pathway and support the projected growth in the number of HC students. If we do not make a change, the GHS attendance area boundary would need to shrink considerably, making 60+ percent of the GHS population students in HC. This is not equitable for students.
    • Second, during community engagement, families requested HC services closer to home. This new model meets this request.
    • Third, this model allows more access for all students to rigorous, college preparatory and college level course work, like Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Our data shows that a larger percentage of diverse students access AP classes when courses are offered. For example, approximately 90 percent of students in AP classes at Ballard, Roosevelt and Franklin are not identified as HC versus 35 percent of the students at GHS in AP classes are not HC.

    Will grandfathering be supported for current Garfield HC students?

    • Students currently in 8th grade and enrolled in HC will still be able to continue in the HC pathway to Garfield as 9th graders in 2018-19.
    • Staff is recommending to the Board grandfathering of all current 8th, 9th and 10th grade students with a HC designation who desire to remain at Garfield.
    • Students in HC entering 9th grade in 2019-20 would be reference to their regional HC pathway.

    How will this decision affect high school boundaries? Adjustments to the draft 2019-20 high school boundaries will need be made to accommodate the final HC pathway decision.

    Next Steps

    The School Board will determine any changes to the high school HC pathways. The preferred recommendation, as part of the Student Assignment Plan (SAP) update, will be introduced to the School Board on Nov. 15 and staff anticipate the Board will act on Dec. 6. Once HC pathway schools are confirmed by the School Board, district and school staff will work with university partners, students and families to discuss advanced learning services, including course offerings, at each identified school.

    If you have questions about the recommended changes to High School Advanced Learning services and HC pathways, please email Comments may also be sent directly to the School Board at