GATE: Gifted and Talented Education Program: GATE Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the purpose of the GATE program?

The Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program is intended to support students with instruction that meets the unique and diverse educational needs of students.

I am not sure if my child is gifted. How do I know for sure?

Gifted students exhibit a variety of characteristics that set them apart from students of their same age or grade. Some of these characteristics can include learning at a faster pace, using advanced vocabulary, asking many questions, and needing activities that are complex and challenging to keep them engaged. The gifted child also may be highly sensitive, creative, and intense. There are many high-achieving (smart) students who don’t necessarily qualify as one who is gifted.

This table helps distinguish between the characteristics of a gifted child and those of a child who is high achieving (smart).

This table compares the characteristics of smart and gifted students.
Characteristic Smart Gifted
Questioning Style Ask questions that have answers Ask questions about abstract ideas, concepts, and theories
Learning Speed and Application of Concepts Learn step-by-step Jump from step 2 to 10 (showing work in math; tutoring)
Emotional Outlook Get past an upsetting incident fairly easily Experience heightened, sometimes all-consuming emotions
Level of Interest Ask questions and are curious about many things Show intense curiosity about nearly everything and immerse themselves in areas of interest
Language Ability Learn new vocabulary easily and choose words typical for their age Extensive and advanced vocabulary and understand nuances, wordplay, and puns
Concern with Fairness Show concern about fairness State firm opinions about fairness related to persons and equity more intensely and on a more global scale

When will my child be GATE screened?

Annually, all 2nd-grade students in EUSD will be screened with the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) Screener. Screening does not occur before 2nd grade.

How and when does GATE screening occur for my
2nd-grade student?

Each year, beginning in November, all 2nd-grade students in the district will be universally screened for potential GATE identification. The screening tool used is a digital, non-reading test designed to measure the cognitive ability of each student. The results of this test will be one piece of information used in the GATE screening process.

Parents of students who have met the established referral criteria, based on the results of the universal screening tool, will receive a parent background and input form to be used as an additional piece of information to determine eligibility.

Qualifying students then will be referred to a school team that will review all screening data and other pertinent information. Sites then will make a recommendation, and eligibility determination will be made confirmed at the district level.

Can I request for my child to be GATE screened in grades 3 through 8?

Yes. If there are students in grades 3 through 8 who are possible candidates for screening, a process has been established at the school sites to allow for screening of those select students:

A parent can request that their child be considered for testing by completing the GATE Parent Background Form located in the school office and returning it to the school.
The site team will review pertinent data and teacher and parent feedback. If the site team concludes the student should be assessed, the student will be given the universal screener.
Sites then will make a recommendation, and eligibility determination will be made at the district level.

The principal at your child’s school can provide further information about GATE and the identification process. Students can be screened for GATE only twice during their time in EUSD.

How are students identified for GATE?

Several pieces of information are reviewed to determine eligibility. GATE identification is not based on the universal screening tool alone. In addition to the universal screener, other standardized testing scores, academic achievement records, students work samples (if necessary), and parent and teacher feedback are considered as well.

What can I do if my child was not approved for the GATE program?

Parents can complete an appeal form if they disagree with the decision. The form then would prompt a second review. If the child, at a minimum, meets all other GATE identification criteria, they may be approved for re-screening. Those students will be tested during the next scheduled testing window beginning in November. The new information acquired as a result of the re-screening will be used to determine eligibility into the GATE program. Students can only be re-screened once.

What will it mean for my child if they are GATE identified?

GATE identification is a consideration in classroom placement. When possible, GATE students are clustered together to facilitate classroom instructional grouping and differentiation appropriate to meet their unique needs.

Students who are identified for GATE through the screening process, will have priority access to enrichment classes. All EUSD schools offer after-school enrichment opportunities for students to access hands-on learning experiences in STEM, visual and performing arts, computer science, and mathematics.

Teachers, through GATE-centered professional development, will continue to provide differentiation to challenge and support GATE students.

How will being GATE-identified impact my child in the future and in high school?

GATE identification would not impact class selection for high school with the Escondido Union High School District. It is the policy of the Escondido Union High School District to offer open enrollment where parents and students can self-select enrollment in honors and AP classes. GATE identification does not influence student access to specific classes.

Does my child have to qualify for GATE to be placed in an advanced math class?

No. Advanced math classes are offered at all EUSD middle schools, and placement is not related to GATE. A student’s placement in an advanced math class is determined by a number of factors, including results on i-Ready and CAASPP assessments as well as teacher referral.

Are there other resources available so I can learn more about GATE and how I can support my child at home?

If I have further questions, who should I contact?

Please contact the principal at your child’s school; EUSD’s Director of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Ron Pirayoff at or 760-432-2400 ext. 10231; or Dr. Lisa Umekubo, Coordinator of Data and Assessment, or ext. 10221.