Legislative Update: House Bill 1611

House Bill 1611

The 2022 legislative session begins Monday, January 10, 2022. WAETAG, in collaboration with the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education, is excited to report that Representative Laurie Dolan, Vice Chair of the House Education Committee, has filed HB 1611 – Advancing Equity in Programs for Highly Capable Students. Read the full bill here!

HB 1611 focuses on two equity issues that our HiCap programs are facing across our state:

  1. This bill calls for the Universal Screening of all students in a specific grade level for HiCap services. The bill does not require districts to give students an additional test if they already have data that could be used for universal screening. It would require districts to stop relying on inequitable, referral based systems in order to access HiCap services.

WAETAG supports the use of universal screening. We recognize and uphold that gifted students come from all racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and economic backgrounds. Historical disparities continue to persist in the representation of students from diverse backgrounds in gifted education and the implementation of universal screening has been shown to positively impact the identification and representation of these diverse student populations. Furthermore, universal screening is a proven method to help prioritize the equitable identification of traditionally underrepresented and low-income students as mandated by RCW 28A.185.020 and WAC 392-170-047.  

  1. This bill calls for more transparency from districts by requiring OSPI to report the demographic make-up of each district’s HiCap program. Currently this data is not reported and is not accessible to the public. 

Students of color and low-income students are substantially underrepresented in gifted education programs. Nationally, children living in poverty and students of color are 250% less likely to be identified for gifted services compared to their peers; Washington State mirrors this trend. WAETAG has long advocated for educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to understand that giftedness is universal and present in students from all racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. WAETAG commits to extending these advocacy efforts to help decision-makers understand that giftedness and talent are present not only in the general populace, but are present within all protected classes. WAETAG commits to dismantling discriminatory practices and disceminating equity-based practices. Transparency, such as the data reporting required by HB 1611, is the first step in this commitment.

How can you help?

Help us support this bill and promote equitable practices in gifted education! Write a sentence of support for HB 1611. To submit a comment click on Comment On This Bill.

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