Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

Nominations for GATE testing are being accepted

Nominations are due December 3, 2014 for February 2015 GATE Testing.

Schools in Pleasanton are preparing for the annual Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) testing period.

The purpose of GATE services is to address the needs of students who need challenges beyond what the general education program can offer. The district works with school staffs to provide high quality differentiated opportunities for learning that meet students’ particular abilities and talents and to focus on the areas of need.

Every student up to grade 7 in Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) is offered the opportunity to be tested at least once for GATE identification. Testing for GATE begins in third grade.

In 2010 modifications were made to the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) identification process. Since 2001, the District has blanket tested all second grade students for GATE using the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). The GATE Advisory Committee (GAC) consisting of teachers, parents, and administrators has unanimously and consistently recommended changing the blanket testing (offering to test all students in a particular grade level) from second grade to third grade students. The consensus has been that second grade students are not ready for a bubble-in scantron test like the CogAT.

Students in grades 4 to 7 must be nominated by a teacher, parent, or other school staff to be tested for GATE services. Parents may nominate their child by submitting a completed Parent Nomination / Questionnaire / Permission for GATE to the Special Projects Office. Parents wishing to nominate their child are encouraged to talk with their child’s teacher about the benefits and implications of GATE testing. The Parent Nomination for GATE form can be found on the district web site . (Click on the Educational Services button, the GATE button and then the Identification button.) There, parents can read the instructions and download the District GATE parent nomination form. Nomination forms are also available at each school site. Students are allowed to be tested as often as every other year.

Students are not eligible to be nominated if they took the CogAT test last year.

Students will be tested during the school day at their own school. A letter notifying parents/guardians of the testing dates and other information will be sent home mid January. Testing will be begin in late January and finish in late February. The test will be administered at each school on different days during this period.


Johns Hopkins University Talent Search

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is accepting applications for its annual talent search for academically talented students in grades 2-8. CTY offers testing through the Talent Search, and a wide array of services for academically talented students, including summer and online courses for students with qualifying test scores. For more information, visit or call CTY at 410-735-6278.
7th and 8th graders in PUSD may apply for the Talent Search and register to take the SAT, which will be given at Harvest Park Middle School on Saturday, January 24, 2015. (Please note that tests for students in grades 2-6 will NOT be given at Harvest Park.)
Please visit Mrs. Lynn Gatehouse’s JHU CTY web page for all of the information you need to know regarding applying for the Talent Search, registering for the SAT, and taking the SAT at the Harvest Park Test Center on January 24, 2015:


GATE Mission/Vision Statement

The Pleasanton Unified School District has a responsibility to foster in all students critical-thinking, leadership, and academic skills that are necessary for succeeding in a global society. Fulfilling this mission requires that the district’s schools nurture students’ inherent and developed talents and abilities while also meeting their social and emotional needs. A strong gifted program has a positive impact on the learning process for all students. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the district to provide gifted students with individual learning opportunities, resources, and experiences which promote these talents and which provide the potential for self-fulfillment, creativity, and responsible participation in our society.

GATE Program Description

Pleasanton is currently identifying and serving students identified gifted in the Intellectual Abilities category. Over the past few years, and as a result of the changes in the Ed Code, the district has moved from a pull-out program to flexible grouping and clustering of students.

Using differentiated curriculum to meet the needs of students, identified elementary students are clustered in groups of 5 to 8 in each classroom with a GATE trained teacher. If there are less than five GATE students, they will be clustered together. The balance of these classes is comprised of students who are not GATE identified.

In middle schools, students are scheduled in GATE subject area(s) according to their CogAT results or other identification critera.

High schools offer dozens of AP, honors and enrichment classes. These enrichment offerings include: Robotics, Spanish/German/French Clubs, Civics competition, mock trial and a music program.

The district philosophy is that these structures will provide continuous progress and opportunities for intellectual peer interaction. Each school offers opportunities for after school, during the school day, lunchtime, and weekend enrichment opportunities. These include chess, math and Leggo, Spanish clubs, Johns Hopkins Talent Search, and Destination Imagination. Student interests are used to determine study and activities in and out of the traditional school day are done by:

(optional due to budget constraints)

  • Student/teacher surveys and Interest-a-Lyzers
  • Elective classes selected
  • Individual DIFFERENTIATION Plan (IDP)s

The district philosophy and plan is to make program services an integral part of the school day, every day. Because of the numbers of formally identified and other high achieving students, the district believes that all work with students must provide a very challenging curriculum that must be aligned with and allows students to meet and exceed the state academic content standards.

The district plan, which was annually reviewed by the Board of Education, was distributed to school sites each year in booklet form and is available on the district web site. It contains the district’s philosophy and goals. The last plan was submitted in 2008. The State has since halted GATE funding. The District now encourages schools to do their best to follow the GATE plan, even without funding.

All schools develop annual School Based Coordinated Program (SBCP) plans for improvement. GATE is one of the SBCP programs. Each site develops improvement goals and budgets tied to District Goals and the Shared Vision. The three branches of the Shared Vision are Achievement, Communication, and Partnerships, under the umbrella of “Kids Come First”.

The district’s philosophy is that through this process, the SBCP plans will align with the resources available to schools, staff, parents and the community.

One of the important changes made recently that has a significant impact on program design, articulation and collaboration is a radical restructuring of the District’s GATE Advisory Committee (GAC). Beginning in 2001 the committee met six times per year with a parent and site GATE Liaison from each school as well as six site administrators. Since the State cut GATE funding, GAC has been suspended until further notice.

The district believes that in a community such as Pleasanton, articulation and coordination with general education programs is critical. The Program Coordinator, who works with many of the state and federal programs in the district, is part of the Curriculum and Staff Development Department and attends all Principal Curriculum meetings.

Professional Development is a key component of the GATE program. This is accomplished through ongoing training as well as articulation opportunities. Professional Development across grades K-12 and in all subject areas allows the district to unofficially identify and serve students in Kindergarten through grade two.

The district’s program design centers around the principles of differentiated instruction and our mandate to meet the intellectual, academic, social and emotional needs of all our students. Teachers are taught to strive for depth, complexity, novelty and acceleration in all their instruction. They are expected to understand the standard(s) they are focusing on in all their instruction, and they are encouraged to learn and master the necessary instructional strategies needed to meet the individual needs of each student. The district is utilizing a comprehensive standards based report card. Included in the marking options beginning in third grade is a “4” which demonstrates depth, complexity and novelty. This option is currently being used at some elementary schools.

GATE identified students in grades 4-5 may have an Individual Differentiation Plan (IDP) developed annually. IDPs are optional. An IDP is a document that students complete with the assistance of their teachers and parents. It is intended to provide planned enrichment goals and opportunities for individual students.

The ongoing focus at the district level will be to improve teacher’s skills in differentiation strategies which will enhance the educational program for GATE students.

Click on the link below for the California Association of the Gifted website.

Click on the link below for the California Department of Education website.

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