The questions below have been grouped under the following headings:
- Must we use more than one test or measure for identifying
GATE identification should not be based on just one factor. Achievement, intelligence quotient (IQ), ability, and other test scores; motivation; parent/guardian, student, and teacher recommendations; classroom observations; and portfolio assessment are some of the possible factors a district may use to identify GATE students.
- Must we identify and serve students in kindergarten
and primary grades?
State law, Assembly Bill (AB) 2313, requires districts to serve students in all grades. It is not necessary to identify kindergarten and primary students formally, although some districts may choose to do so. Districts are required to provide teachers with the means to recognize gifted children and use the strategies and resources to meet their educational needs. This can be done even if formal identification does not take place until later.
- Should we continue to reexamine students for eligibility
as they get older?
The district should continue to periodically examine student eligibility for the GATE program. A student who does not meet the district's criteria for eligibility in the second grade may very well be eligible later in elementary school. Eligibility for GATE programs should be reexamined between elementary and middle school, and between middle and high school. However, once certified as a gifted student, a student may not be decertified even though the student's need for specific services may change. At all levels, children who can be successful in advanced courses should be encouraged to take them regardless of whether they are identified as gifted and talented.
- Are we required to test or serve private school students?
- Must a district governing board consider or identify
as gifted and talented a pupil who transfers from a district
where the student was previously identified as gifted and talented?
Yes. EC Section 52202 states that the governing board shall also consider identifying as gifted or talented, any student who has transferred from a district in which he or she was identified as a GATE student.
- If we are a school-based coordinated program (SBCP),
are we exempt from all provisions of the EC related
to gifted and talented education?
No. Certain requirements in the EC are requirements of the district related to identification, the determination of funding amounts, and responsibility to ensure that funds are spent according to the district-approved plan. Those requirements are unchanged, even though a school or schools within the district become school-based coordinated programs. If GATE is included in the SBCP, the school should base the program on EC Section 52853, which outlines the responsibilities of the school under the SBCP act. Note that the school site plan must specify "instructional and auxiliary services to meet the special needs of . . . gifted and talented pupils," as well as a staff development plan, ongoing evaluation, and a budget.
- Do you recommend any particular service delivery model?
AB 2313 requires that services for gifted and talented students be planned and organized as integrated differentiated learning experiences within the regular school day. The following three service delivery models are named in the law and are appropriate for most districts: special day classes, part-time grouping, and cluster grouping. Title 5, Chapter 4 of the California Code of Regulations provides the following definitions:
(Section 3840a) special-day classes: A class totaling a minimum school day that is composed of pupils identified as gifted and talented, is especially designed to meet the specific academic needs of gifted and talented pupils for enriched and advanced instruction and is appropriately differentiated from other classes in the same subjects at the school, and is taught by a teacher who has specific preparation, experience, personal attributes and competencies in the teaching of gifted children.
(Section 3840b) part-time grouping: Classes or seminars that are organized to provide advanced or enriched subject matter for part of the school day. These classes are composed of gifted and talented pupils.
(Section 3840d) cluster grouping: Pupils are grouped within a regular classroom setting and receive appropriately differentiated curriculum from the regular classroom teacher.
All of these models allow for the participation, when appropriate, of high ability students who are not formally identified as gifted and talented. Small districts will need to be creative in meeting the intent of the law when numbers of students prohibit the adoption of any of these models. Two approaches that have been successful in small school or district settings are mixed-age grouping and individual learning plans that address specific adaptations in one or more of the core areas to meet a student's needs.
- How does this approach to gifted education relate
to standards-based education?
Standards-based education is a solid foundation on which to build appropriate instruction for all students, including gifted and talented students. Standards-based education requires educators to have clear content and performance objectives for their students. Both the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools and the Reading/Language Arts Framework for California Public Schools discuss the need for teachers to assess students in order to know what must be learned and to design instruction to move them forward. Both of these documents apply this principle to all students, including advanced and gifted students, even if it means working between grade levels. Key to accomplishing this for all students is differentiation of the core curriculum to meet various student needs.
- We are a small, rural district and receive a small
amount in GATE funds. How can we design a program which meets
the program standards and regulations?
Program design will of necessity look very different in small districts than in large districts. Many small districts have developed successful GATE programs enlisting the help of community members with expertise in particular areas; using distance learning arrangements with a college, university, or other public school; or by focusing funds on a particular area of students' needs each year. Mixed-age grouping, mentorships, and individual learning plans may also be successful approaches to planning and organizing differentiated learning experiences within the regular school day for gifted and talented students in small schools or districts.
- How should we estimate GATE funding?
Per EC Section 52211 principal apportionments for local educational agency (LEA) GATE programs are calculated each fiscal year through a formula that uses the prior year's statewide average daily attendance (ADA) in kindergarten and grades 1-12, reported by all participating districts at the second principal apportionment, to determine the per pupil GATE funding for each LEA. LEAs with less than 1,500 ADA receive $2,500 or not less than the amount received in FY 1998-99. No district receives less per ADA than the amount it received in FY 1999-2000. An additional deficit factor may be applied in to align the GATE funding calculations with the available state funding.
- May we buy computers with GATE funds?
GATE funds are to be used to meet the assessed needs of GATE students through provision of programs described in EC Section 52200 et seq. and accompanying regulations. While purchase of computers is not specifically prohibited in the law or regulations, you must justify these purchases in the written plan and the plan must be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE). It is unlikely that devoting large portions of the GATE funding to the purchase of computers will meet the program standards outlined in law and regulations.