GATE Program » Advanced Learning Options

Advanced Learning Options

What does it mean to be “Gifted”? 

The quick response is that there is, as yet, no universally agreed upon answer to this question. Giftedness, intelligence, and talent are fluid concepts and may look different in different contexts and cultures. Even within schools you will find a range of personal beliefs about the word “gifted” which has become a term with multiple meanings and much nuance. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) states that, “A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.” California Education Code 52201 defines gifted as, “A child identified as possessing demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of high performance capability as defined pursuant to 52202.” California State Education Code 52202 states, “High performance capability shall be defined by each school district governing board in accordance with regulations established by the State Board of Education. “Gifted” children identified by the district may be enrolled in the GATE program with parent permission.


What is GATE? 

GATE stands for Gifted and Talented Education. Each state establishes recommendations, standards and funding for servicing the needs of gifted students. Each LEA or district that wishes to participate in the state program can apply for funding. The local LEA or district establishes its own program to service students enrolled in the local GATE program.


How do we determine if a child is “Gifted”? 

California Education Code states that we should use multiple measures including the use of nationally normed assessments to identify and qualify students for the GATE program. Our primary tool for qualifying children is the CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test). In some cases we use the RAVENS or SIT tests. We ask that our teachers recommend children for testing at the end of the 3rd grade year. Testing usually occurs in the fall of the 4th grade year. Schools can also test or re-test students in 5th and 6th grades. Principals use the California Standards Test (CST) data to help screen students recommended for testing. The school has the option of using the Student Study Team to qualify a child, if the child does not qualify for the GATE program by testing. The Student Study Team will look at all information provided for the child. This information may include: multiple teacher recommendations, other testing data, parent or child provided evidence of a special talent that qualifies for “giftedness”, and any other information that the Student Study Team wishes to consider.


What is the legislative history of GATE? 

Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Act – This federal act was originally passed by Congress in 1988 as part of the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act” to support the development of talent in U.S. schools. The Javits Act, which is the only federal program dedicated specifically to gifted and talented students, does not fund local gifted and talented education programs. The purpose of the Act is to orchestrate a coordinated program of scientifically based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and similar activities that build and enhance the ability of elementary and secondary schools to meet the special needs of gifted and talented students. The Javits Act focuses resources on identifying and serving students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited-English proficient, and disabled students, to help reduce gaps in achievement and to encourage the establishment of equal educational opportunities for all students (

Does gifted education legislation exist?
Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Grant Program
Does the legislation mandate that gifted students be served? No
Is identification of gifted students required by state law? No
Is there legislation that mandates specialized training in gifted education for teachers of gifted students? No

(Davidson Institute for Talent Development, NAGC, and CAG)

California has several Education Codes that involve GATE. They have been established by the State Board of Education to provide recommendations for programs and funding. Funding occurs from a formula allocation that is based on the prior year’s statewide average daily attendance (ADA) reported by all participating districts. In general, a district receives GATE funding based on its total size, not on the number of GATE students in the district.

Does gifted education legislation in California exist?
Legislation Information
Does the legislation mandate that gifted students be served? No
Was there funding for gifted programs for the 2011 – 2012 school year? No
Is identification of gifted students required by state law? No
Does legislation provide for an education program matched to the student’s abilities? Yes
Is there legislation that mandates specialized training in gifted education for teachers of gifted students? No
Are there colleges/universities in the state that offer courses and/or degrees in gifted education? Yes

(Davidson Institute for Talent Development, NAGC, and CAG)


What does “intelligent or bright” vs. “gifted” mean? 

Intelligent or bright students are often “rule followers”. They are able to read situations, know what is expected, and carry out expectations to a high level. These students often get high grades, complete all work, and are excellent citizens. Gifted children can be “rule benders” or push on the envelope of expectations. They are highly curious, want to know why, feel they are beyond others, are good manipulators, keenly observant, and may see rules or guidelines not applying to them. Intelligent or bright learners know answers, have good ideas, work hard, answer questions, in the top group, learn with ease, understand ideas, enjoy peers, copy accurately, enjoy school, and are the technician. Gifted learners ask the questions, have wild/silly ideas, play around but test well, discuss in detail/elaborate, already know, construct abstractions, prefer adults, create new designs, enjoy learning, are the inventor, and can be highly self-critical.


Where Does the Money Come From? 

Each state establishes legislation and funding for GATE programs. Each participating LEA or district develops their own program and applies for funding from the state of California.


What do they say about GATE? – The California Department of Education website will link you to information about GATE. You can look at information, education codes, and a variety of other information. – The California Association of the Gifted (CAG) also provides a wealth of information about gifted education and learners. You can join this association for a nominal fee. – The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) is another excellent site with an extensive parent area.


What do programs look like at schools in Lucia Mar? 

California State Education Code states that GATE instruction should occur through differentiation within the regular school day. Differentiation should include depth and complexity. Differentiation is defined as a way of teaching in which teachers modify curriculum, teaching methods, resources, learning activities, and student products to address the needs of individual students and/or small groups of students to maximize the learning opportunity for all. Differentiation may be supplemented with other activities such as independent study, acceleration, post secondary education, and enrichment. Differentiation in Lucia Mar applies to all students not just to the gifted learners. We believe that all students are gifted in their own way.

Elementary schools offer differentiation within the classroom like Guided Reading, Literature Circles, math groups, and ongoing classroom lessons that challenge students at higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy. These lessons move from knowledge to comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation at the highest level.

Middle School Programs combine differentiation with accelerated learning opportunities including advanced classes, electives, and enrichment.

High Schools classes differentiate by providing accelerated learning, electives, and post secondary offerings.

Teachers have access to a wide variety of training and inservice to help differentiate instruction for all students.