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Advanced Learning Services

Thursday, May 12, 2022 Volume 16 Issue 30

If you have followed the conversation around Advanced Learning in our district, you know that some changes are afoot. For the past several years, the Advanced Learning Department, district staff, parents and community members have been working on reviewing policies and procedures in the effort to bring more equity to a system that has historically privileged white middle- and upper-class students. Thurgood Marshall families were involved in the very grassroots efforts to this change, with a committee of parents that grew from one of our equity action teams and developed into a district wide push for a more diverse representation in the district’s Advanced Learning program.

Early this week, you likely received a letter from the district’s Advanced Learning (AL) Department letting you know that your child was either: qualified as a Highly Capable Learner, qualified as an Advanced Learner or found to be Not Eligible for the Advanced Learning program services. This may have been confusing to you unless you were actively trying to have your child qualified into this program. While our school does not have any influence in the processes of how the Advanced Learning Department is run, I wanted to give a little more explanation into how the department qualified students this year. This qualification process has changed a few times in recent years, partly due to the pandemic, and it can be quite confusing.

To give a little background into what this all means: General Education (Scholars at Thurgood Marshall) – this is a classroom just like you would find at any school in the district. Students are working on grade level curriculum aligned to common core state standards. ​ Advanced Learning (Scholars at Thurgood Marshall) – students who qualify as Advanced Learners are served in General Education classrooms, with opportunities for enrichment based on need for this shown by their test scores. For example, a general education student who is very strong in math may receive additional math enrichment in their classroom. On occasion, these students may be served by a “walk to” program, although the district is moving away from this.Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) (AC Scholars at Thurgood Marshall) – students who qualify for the HCC program may choose to remain in a general education class or they may choose to move to an HCC class. These classes are accelerated by 2 years in math and 1 year in ELA. For example, a 1st grade HCC student will work from the 3rd grade math curriculum. This acceleration is meant to address a need for this child. For some students this acceleration is exciting and engaging, and for some students, this acceleration is stressful. Qualification as an HC learner does NOT mean that you must choose this service for your child. The decision is up to you as a parent, depending on what you think is right for your child. If your child needs a significant amount of differentiation in their class, it might be right for them. Once a child is identified as HC, this designation follows them to middle school, so you could choose it at any point. ​ This year, the AL Department asked teachers to fill out a spreadsheet with scores for every child in their class. They collected information like MAP and SBA scores (standardized tests), reading levels, and math information. The AL Department reviewed all this information for every school in the district with a multidisciplinary team of district staff to make determinations about whether students were found to qualify for Advanced Learning (AL), the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) or Not Eligible (NE) for either service. Every family was sent a letter, regardless of whether they were seeking enrollment in one of the AL programs for their child or not. Our school did not engage in any additional testing beyond the tests that are required by our district annually to qualify students. The AL Department simply used the scores we had already collected. If you received a letter that says your child is Not Eligible, it does NOT mean that your child is not smart or capable. It means that the instruction they are receiving at their level is just right for them and further acceleration is not needed in math or reading (the 2 areas the AL Department is set up to serve). Appeals: If your child was found to be NE and you think they should be eligible, or if your child was found to be AL and you think HC is a better fit for them, you may choose to appeal this decision with the AL Department, based on data about your child’s learning. Appeals are due no later than Friday, May 20. You can find information about the Appeals process, as well as the appeal form on the Advanced Learning webpage here: . ​ If your bullpup (TM student) was qualified as AL or HC, they do not need to leave our school, since we have both programs here. Thurgood Marshall Elementary is the HC site (pathway) for all schools south of the ship canal, with the exception of a small group of West Seattle students whose pathway school is Fairmount Park, an option school. ​ If you have other questions about Advanced Learning, an email address has been set up for you! Please reach out to







Superintendent Jones Listening Tour

Seattle Council PTSA and Seattle Public Schools are hosting a series of online community engagement events with Dr. Brent Jones.

Please join a Zoom meeting to share your thoughts and perspectives with the Seattle Public Schools superintendent! Dr. Jones will be listening to families about how our schools can be safe and welcoming spaces where students can learn and thrive.

ASL and closed captioning will be available at each listening session. Amharic, Cantonese, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese interpreters will be available at each event.

To register for an event, please use the following links.

All Families May 16, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Register for this event on Zoom

East African and Black Immigrant Families May 23, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Interpretation in Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Tigrinya. Register for this event on Zoom




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