PATH Town Hall–It was so good to hear from you!

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Last week PATH hosted a digital town hall, to hear from parents of highly capable students around the district. We wanted to learn both what you’re wondering about, as well as what your concerns are. Thank you for your input! Many of you have asked for notes from the call, so here they are, arranged as Q&A grouped by topic. If we missed your question, please email us ([email protected]), and we’ll get back to you. 

  • General
    • Q: Does the school district allow grade skipping?
      • A: Yes. It is done on an individual basis, after conferencing with parents, teachers, and district staff.
      •  
    • Q: I see areas for improvement in the district’s hi cap program. How can I help?
      • A: Contact PATH! ([email protected]) We’ll arrange a phone call to talk about where you’d most like to volunteer.
      •  
    • Q: Can we learn more about 2e (twice exceptional)?
      • A: Yes! PATH is considering a future town hall, specifically on this topic.
      •  
    • Q: Will there be any additional enrichment activities for the kids in the summer holidays?
      • A: TSD does not sponsor enrichment activities during the summer, but they often forward announcements of outside opportunities. Please feel free to use the PATH Facebook page to discuss great options with other hi cap parents!
      •  
  • Cougar classrooms
    • Q: What is the difference between Discovery and Cougar?
      • A: Discovery is a self-contained, all highly capable class, available for 3-5 grades in selected schools. Cougar classrooms are general ed classrooms where a small number of hi cap students are enrolled, available for grades 1-5 at all elementary schools.
    •  
    • Q: Are those students grouped together at each elementary school?
      • A: Yes. Typically 2-5 hi cap students are grouped together, completely dependent on the # of hi cap students in that grade level at that school.
    •  
    • Q: What is the benefit to my student?
      • A: Cougar teachers receive special training about the needs of hi cap students, as well as resources to help them. Students can be purposefully grouped within the classroom to offer intellectual peer collaboration, not easily found in a general ed classroom otherwise.
    •  
    • Q: Could we have a town hall specifically about Cougar classrooms? I’m not sure what hi cap services are happening, and I’m not sure my student is getting more challenge.
      • A: Great idea! PATH is looking into future town halls with a more specific focus.
  •  
  • Discovery
    • Q: What acceleration does it provide?
      • A: Math is accelerated one year. Other subjects are typically taken deeper, rather than accelerating through curriculum.
    •  
    • Q: What is the gender ratio?
      • A: Discovery classes are formed based on intellectual need, so gender ratios vary by class and location.
    •  
    • Q: Does the student need to be re-tested every year to be able to retained in the Discovery program?
      • A: No. Once they are in, they are in for the rest of their elementary experience.
  •  
  • Middle school
    • Q: Can we get advanced science?
      • A: We would love to. TSD has announced science to be a later phase of adopting a middle level hi cap program. They are focusing first on reviewing how English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies (SS) are going.
    •  
    • Q: What about transition from elementary to middle school; do tests need to be taken again?
      • A: For math, yes. For ELA and SS, no.
    •  
    • Q: How do I register for the hi cap classes?
      • A: If your child is labeled as hi cap in elementary, they are automatically registered for hi cap ELA and SS. No action is needed on your part.
    •  
    • Q: Do Cougar kids automatically get enrolled in hi cap?
      • A: Yes.
    •  
    • Q: For transitioning from elementary to middle school does this program automatically carry over?
      • A: The programs are entirely different from elementary to middle. Your child retains their hi cap designation, but please see the other questions for details on how hi cap services are handled at the middle level.
    •  
    • Q: What are the hi cap opportunities?
      • A: ELA and SS have self-contained classrooms, for only hi cap students, for each grade level at each middle school. Curriculum is the same as the general ed classrooms, but teachers receive hi cap specific training. Math is a test-entry for all students, and they are placed in one of 3 levels.
    •  
    • Q: Will the students from the same Discovery classes stay together?
      • A: Partially. Discovery and Cougar students are mixed together, typically into 2 sections of hi cap classes, so there will be some overlap and some new classmates.
    •  
    • Q: It is interesting that the students test in during elementary based on math mainly (if I recall correctly), but then automatically go in to hi-cap ela and ss. Have those with students in middle schools seen any struggles around that automatic route?
      • A: Elementary testing is through 2 standardized tests, the CogAT and ITBS. Both have several sections, not just math. Please feel free to start a discussion on our Facebook group about parents’ experiences!
    •  
    • Q: When will we find out the math acceleration path for incoming 6th graders?
      • A: Those decisions have already been made. If you have not been notified, please contact your child’s current teacher or Chris Everett ([email protected])
    •  
    • Q: Does that middle school math evaluation happen in middle school or in 5th grade?
      • A: In the spring of 5th grade
  •  
  • High school
    • Q: Is there the possibility of creating sections of math at the HS specifically for the freshman coming out of hicap MS math?
      • A: PATH would love that. The district is not considering this option at this time. If you would like to help advocate for this change, please contact PATH ([email protected])
    •  
    • Q: My daughter is taking algebra 1 in 6th grade. She will be done with algebra 2 by the end of middle school. Does Tahoma high school offer math acceleration for kids like my daughter?
      • A: Yes, on an individual basis and with parent support. My son (PATH president Michelle commenting here) was in this situation. Geometry is the highest math available in the middle school. In conjunction with my son’s middle school counselor and district staff, we decided to have him take his next math courses at the high school, and he attended the rest of his classes at the middle school. This required parent transportation during the middle of the day, as well as some flexible scheduling. The district was accommodating, but I also needed to devote significant time to make this work.
    •  
    • Q: Are there no highly capable programs for high school?
      • A: There are not. The high school offers an impressive array of advanced courses, but none are specifically gifted classes.
    •  
    • Q: Can middle school Hi-cap ELA/SS students be automatically eligible for AP classes in high school?
      • A: AP and honors high school classes are open enrollment, so any student can sign up for them.

 

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