Who may test and when
Every student in Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) is offered the opportunity to be tested at least once for GATE identification. For most students this happens at the end of third grade so that formal clustering can begin in fourth grade. Students may be tested several times, as often as every other February. However, it is strongly recommended that only students with a probable chance of success be nominated for additional testing.
GATE identification does not automatically follow a student from one district to the next.
For new students to the district who were in a gifted program in their previous district, the criteria for the previous school’s GATE identification will be reviewed. Parents are asked to provide this information to the district, preferrably before entering PUSD. When previous testing is compatible and meets district criteria, the student is identified GATE. When the testing does not meet district standards, the student is invited to test in February. Details regarding GATE identification for a new student is discussed further at the end of this section.
In following California State Ed Code, each district develops its own means and measures for identifying gifted students. In Pleasanton Unified, the GATE program starts in the 4th grade. The primary assessment used to identify GATE students in the Pleasanton Unified School District is the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT).
The district currently serves students identified gifted in the intellectual abilities category. The district is committed to the use of multiple criteria for identifying students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The primary measurement chosen for gifted assessment in PUSD is the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), for Third to 7th Grade, assesses the pattern and level of students’ cognitive development. All levels of the test contain three batteries that provide separate scores for verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal reasoning abilities. Pleasanton students meeting district criteria in any one of these three sub-tests are identified GATE. A Composite score is also available, and students meeting district criteria in this category are also identified GATE.
Each school sends invitation/permission letters to all Third Grade students. The Special Projects office sends letters to nominated students via US mail. The letters provide information regarding the test, as well as the testing schedule. Test proctors visit each school and administer the test during the morning of the school day.
Each year, the District reviews the identification process and criteria and makes appropriate changes. In 2000, the study took the form of a comprehensive review committee that focused on the total district population. Previously, the Raven Progressive Matrices test had been the primary measurement used for identification. As a result of this study, the CogAT was the new recommended measurement, in part, so that students may be identified by verbal and mathematical abilities as well as nonverbal.
See the CogAT button for details.
In 2009, t he GATE Advisory Committee (GAC) consisting of teachers, parents, and administrators unanimously and had 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. Blanket testing was moved from Second grade to Third Grade.
The nomination process for students in grades 4-7 has been streamlined as a result of the review committee. Each fall, parents, teachers, administrators, or a district employee with knowledge of a student’s talents or gifts may nominate a student for testing. School sites inform their communities of the nomination process in their school newsletter. Simplified nomination forms are provided to each school site to be completed and returned to the Special Projects Office. The Special Projects Office sends invitation/permission letters by US mail to nominated students. The letters provide information regarding the test, as well as the testing schedule. Test proctors visit each school and administer the test during the morning of the school day.
CogAT Test Results
After testing at all schools is completed, the test answer sheets are sent to Riverside Pubishing in Iowa for scoring. Reports are returned in approximately 7 weeks, near the end of the school year. GATE eligibility letters are mailed home attached to the CogAT Parent Narrative Report. The letters indicate if the student met the criteria for GATE identification, was below the criteria for GATE identification, or was so close to district criteria that staff is conducting a further review.
Students scoring at or above the 98% age related, national percentile rank on one of the subtests of the CogAT, or 97% or above age related, national percentile rank on the composite portion of the CogAT, are identified GATE. Students scoring within one percentage point in any of the above categories are considered for further review.
Further Review Process
The district prepares a Further Review packet for teachers to complete for the students considered for further review. The packet consists of three sections:
- written teacher narrative and student work
- Renzulli rating scales
- STAR and CST scores
The Program Coordinator and a committee of teachers and administrators convene to review these Further Review packets. Points are tallied for each section and packets are scored on a rubric. This allows the district to consider multiple criteria for each student. Again, letters are sent to the student’s guardian notifying them of the results. Approximately 50% of the students considered for further review are identified GATE.
In PUSD, approximately 17% of the grade 4-12 population is identified GATE.
Other GATE Identification
There are non-traditional procedures available for identifying students. These include special assistance/translations for testing and Student Study Team referrals. Most of the SST identified students would be considered “twice exceptional”; both gifted and learning disabled.
In the event that a student is not identified GATE as a result of the CogAT testing, the parent or guardian may appeal to the district to consider other testing. This testing must be at the parent/guardian’s expense. This is accomplished by getting a referral from a licensed psychologist who is qualified to administer the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, Third Edition (WISC III or IV). Parents can contact the Special Projects Office to obtain information.
The district chooses to avoid unnecessary testing whenever possible. Other cognitive or IQ testing from a previous school or event can be submitted to the Special Projects Office. The district will confer with the Assessment Department to determine compatibility with district criteria. The Special Projects Office can assist parents with obtaining these scores from previous districts. When previous testing is compatible and meets district criteria, a student is immediately GATE identified without further testing. Common tests to look for include the Ravens, Stanford Binet, Otis-Lennon (OLSAT) as well as the WISCIII, and other non-standardized tests.
GATE Identification Records
Records of basic scores are kept in the district office and copies of nomination packets and other identification materials are filed in the student’s permanent cumulative record. Families leaving the district may request identification information to be forwarded to the new school district.
GATE identification in the district lasts for the duration of enrollment. Withdrawal is rare but accomplished by contacting the Special Projects Office.
GATE Identification for New Students
GATE identification does not automatically follow a student from one district to the next.
When new students who were identified gifted in their previous district move into PUSD, guardians complete the registration form as a part of the enrollment process.
The “gifted” box on the registration form is to be checked if the student was enrolled in a gifted program or class in their previous school district. Gifted programs in other districts go by many different names, i.e., Challenge, TAG, GATE, Gifted etc. Some private schools may not have a gifted program although students are placed in special accelerated classes for the gifted.
If the guardian checks the gifted box on the registration form, the school office is to send a copy to the Special Projects Office.
The Special Projects Office will invite the student to the next available GATE testing if they do not meet the criteria of other testing as described below. There is one testing period in February when all Third Grade and nominated students are tested.
Once eligible for testing, the students follow the same procedure as for Third Grade and nominated students.
The district chooses to avoid unnecessary testing whenever possible. Other cognitive or IQ testing from a previous school or event can be submitted to the Special Projects Office. The district will confer with the Assessment Department to determine compatibility with district criteria. The Special Projects Office can assist parents with obtaining these scores from previous districts. When previous testing is compatible and meets district criteria, a student is immediately GATE identified without further testing. Common tests to look for include the Ravens, Stanford Binet, Otis-Lennon (OLSAT) and other non-standardized tests.