Frequently Asked GATE Questions
Davis Joint Unified School District
Frequently Asked GATE Questions
1. How do I know if my child is “gifted”?
Certain characteristics are indicators of giftedness. The most common myth—all gifted students are motivated and perform well in school—results in many students not being recognized for their potential. Some indicators of giftedness include level of questioning, sensitivity to issues of morality and justice, understanding abstract ideas, making connections and establishing relationships between ideas beyond that of their age mates, having varied and multiple interests, demonstrating a sophisticated sense of humor, learning more quickly than their peers, being curious, having highly developed vocabulary, etc. Adults in the lives of these children need to recognize that sometimes these behaviors are manifested at home and/or in school in a less than positive manner: class clown, know-it-all, etc.… Obviously, children are unique. These are some of the more common characteristics used to identify giftedness.
2. Are there benefits to placing my child in a GATE magnet program?
Placement in self-contained GATE classes is a family decision. For many gifted students, there are educational and social advantages. Some students may be adequately challenged and socially comfortable in their neighborhood school program. As parents/guardians you will want to weigh the pros and cons, and consult with others who deal with your child (pediatrician, teacher, etc.). Attend the Parent Orientation Meeting and/or visit the sites, talk with families who currently have a child in the GATE program, and make your best informed decision. An important consideration is that this commitment will probably be for three years and may require extra driving. However, for some children, not feeling isolated and/or different is worth some of the disadvantages of transportation.
3. How do I get my child evaluated for the GATE program?
If your child is currently a 3rd grader, he/she may participate in the universal testing of all 3rd graders using the Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test, 8th edition, (OLSAT-8). This test is administered in the child's classroom in late September or early October.
If your child is a 4th, 6th, 7th or 9th grader, he/she may take the appropriate level OLSAT on designated Wednesdays at the District Office between mid-November and mid-December. Test schedules will be publicized on the district website, in school newsletters, in The Davis Enterprise, or by calling the GATE Office at 530-757-5300 x146. Because there is limited space, a reservation is required for the test; there will be ample sessions so everyone requesting testing will be accommodated. The parent must submit a completed Student Nomination Form (available on the website or in the GATE Office) no later than the date and place of testing. Results from all testing are usually mailed to parents in late-January.
In addition to district administered testing, parents/guardians may also submit test results from other districts and/or from private licensed psychologists. Before these data are considered by the GATE Office, the following conditions must be met:
- A student must have taken a test of mental reasoning administered by a school district or by a licensed psychologist; examples of these tests include the OLSAT, Raven, CoGAT, or WISC 4.
- A student may not repeat the same test within a 12 month period; for example, if a student took the WISC-4 in October and again in May, the results of the May test would be invalid. (However, a student can take another version of a mental reasoning test such as the WISC-4 in October and the Kaufmann ABC in May...)
- Parent's must obtain a "Referral Form for Outside Evaluation" directly from the GATE Office once they have an appointment with an outside evaluator and before the testing takes place. This form is to be signed by both the parent and the Evaluator and returned with or without the test results.
- A student's test results must also include scores from all subtests.
- A psychologist must sign any psychological report and provide his/her license number and contact information.
4. What scores are required to qualify for GATE?
The qualifying score on the OLSAT (or any comparable test of mental reasoning) is a minimum of the 96th percentile on the Total (Full Scale) Score and 96th percentile on either the Verbal or the Nonverbal subtest scores. If test results from outside the district are submitted, all standard subtest scores must be included in the report, or the scores will not be accepted. A student’s GATE identification is honored for the duration of the student’s enrollment in the Davis Joint Unified School District.
5. Why are some children tested more than once in the Universal Testing process (3rd Grade)?
Federal and state mandates, and ethical behavior, require that each student has an equivalent opportunity to test and to qualify. Some of our students have risk factors that may inhibit their performance on the OLSAT so students who have two or more of these risk factors (income, parent education, English language learner, etc.) and who have other demonstrated indicators of performance beyond their peers, are tested in a smaller environment and sometimes with someone who speaks their language. Also, if a student’s scores fall within the standard error of measure (+/- 5%) he/she is retested.
6. What is the district’s policy with regard to private testing?
Some families select private testing for a variety of reasons. They may test prior to third grade because they need more information about their child’s performance or may wish to do it prior to the stress that revolves around testing for GATE. Others tell us the child didn’t feel well the day of the test. For some, the child was very stressed in the testing situation or had difficulty concentrating in a large group. The GATE Office will accept private testing if, and only if, the examiner is licensed and administers all sections of the test and provides that data in the write up that is submitted to the GATE Office. Also, the parent and evaluator must sign the "Referral Form for Outside Evaluation" and return the form along with the test results. No estimated or pro-rated scores will be accepted. It is also important to know that during the spring semester, CSUS’s Counseling and Diagnostic Center administers tests for a significantly reduced price. For information about that, contact them at (916) 278-6252.
7. How is placement in GATE classes determined?
All qualified students who request placement in a self-contained GATE class are rank-ordered first by their Total (Full Scale) Score followed by the higher subtest score. At the incoming 4th grade level, a minimum of the top 116 students will be offered placement. Any vacancies will be filled by the rank-ordered score from students on the wait list. (A more detailed description of the process can be found in the Elementary Placement Process for GATE Identified Students entering 4th Grade in 2010-11 on this site.
8. Can we choose a GATE site?
There are currently 4 elementary GATE sites: Willett, Pioneer, Korematsu, and North Davis each have one class/strand of self-contained classes at the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Every effort is made to place qualifying students from Patwin and Willett in the Willett GATE Program ; from Montgomery and Pioneer in the Pioneer GATE Program; from Korematsu and a portion of Birch Lane located closer to Korematsu than to North Davis in the Korematsu GATE Program; and North Davis and a portion of Birch Lane located closer to North Davis than Korematsu in the North Davis GATE Program.
At the junior high school level, GATE students from self-contained GATE classes at Pioneer and Korematsu and any identified GATE student within the Pioneer, Montgomery, and Korematsu areas may apply for the Harper self-contained core classes; GATE students from self-contained GATE classes at North Davis and Willett and any GATE identified student in Central or West Davis may attend Holmes self-contained GATE core classes. Any GATE identified student district-wide may select to attend Emerson’s accelerated GATE core classes.
Should you wish to attend a school different from the one to which you are assigned, each case is handled individually and with every effort to make decisions that benefit all involved.
At Davis Senior High School, the final designated GATE class is GATE English 10. Students also have many honors and AP classes from which to choose.
9. What if my child doesn’t want to go to a GATE self-contained class?
This is a frequent question. Rarely does a child want to leave the known for the unknown. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what would be best for your child. If you decide that GATE is the appropriate placement, you can mitigate some of the stress by providing various and frequent opportunities to maintain neighborhood friendships. Also, take your child to the new site after school and talk with people you meet. Usually, these concerns diminish over the first month or so as your child makes new friends.
10. What is different about a GATE class?
Teachers are trained to understand the characteristics of gifted children, to deliver curriculum to meet intellectual differences, to differentiate curriculum in a concept-oriented manner, and to work with the varying degrees of intellectual, social, and ethical development that often make these children feel isolated. There is much less repetition and review, and students spend more of their class time on analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
11. What is the curriculum in the GATE classes?
The GATE curriculum is based on state and district standards as well as most adopted materials with identified objectives for which teachers may “enrich” or “accelerate” or add “depth and complexity” These standards are available for viewing on the District website.
12. Will there be more homework in the GATE classes?
Yes and no… In 4th grade, students are moving from classes of 20 to 30 students as well as to a longer school day and a more independent environment whether they are in GATE or not. The structure of the homework will be differentiated. The amount of homework or the amount of time on homework should average about 40 minutes for 4th graders, 50 minutes for 5th graders, 60 minutes for 6th graders, 90 minutes for 7th and 8th graders, and 90 minutes to two hours for 9th and above, from Monday through Thursday (as per District Homework Policy which is available on the website). If your child appears to be doing hours of homework, however, before you leap to conclusions, think about some of these questions and discuss them with your child and the teacher, if necessary, or seek some assistance from the GATE Coordinator:
- Does my child have appropriate study skills?
- Is he/she using class time well?
- Does he/she prefer to work at home where it is a) quiet, b) more organized, and/or c) I provide support?
- Does my child do more than the assignment requires and/or does not tolerate errors?
- Does my child have any difficulty remaining on task during an assignment?
The answer to these and any other observations you have may help your child transition as well as provide some much-needed background for experts to assist you. Remember that your child is now in a class where the students are more like him/her so there may be a period of adjustment to school, curriculum, and peer expectations. The advantage is that the children will be supported by family and community as they learn to adapt to more difficult curriculum; for many young children, these adjustments to curriculum and workload do not come until the start of college when they feel very much alone.
13. Are the self-contained GATE classes integrated with the rest of the school?
GATE classes are no more--and no less isolated--than any comparable elementary class. Students take recess, lunch, music, PE, fine arts, and many field trips with other classes. In junior high, students are clustered three hours a day for English/Social Studies/Science. The self-contained GATE classes cluster GATE students in these three core courses. The remainder of the day, GATE students are integrated into regular classes. Math placement is based on achievement. There also will be many opportunities to mingle with other students through clubs, leadership programs, music, sports, etc.
14. What are the services provided to GATE identified students?
GATE students are provided an appropriate curriculum, access to conferencing, and some tutoring by GATE trained personnel. GATE students receive information about special programs and classes appropriate to their interests such as the Academic Talent Search programs for high potential students in grades 6-9 at California State University, Sacramento, and for grades 2-8 at Johns Hopkins University and its satellite campuses. More information on these programs is available on the district website.
15. Can my child enter the GATE Program at any time?
At 4th and 7th grades there are more opportunities to enter when the classes are being formed. Grades 5, 6, 8, and 9 have openings only when someone leaves the program; the vacancies are first offered to students in a self-contained class outside their area; finally, vacancies are filled from the rank-ordered waiting list.
16. If my child is not doing well in school, should he/she be in a self-contained class?
Some children in self-contained GATE classes are underachieving—may not turn in homework regularly, have difficulty on tests, or do not work to their potential. Some have learning disabilities or other special needs that may include perfectionism or perseverance or self-esteem. That does not mean they lack ability! Therefore, underachievement and learning disabilities are not reasons to exclude a child from GATE classes.
17. How can I help?
Reassure your child that this placement is appropriate and that you know he/she will be successful. Discuss and define “success.” Be realistic that he/she will be among intellectual peers and may not always be the “star” pupil, and be supportive without “smothering.” Many children tell us that they think their parents “define success” as getting A’s. When both of you are clear about why your child is in the class and that what you expect is that he/she “do his/her best,” stress is minimized and student attitudes are more positive.
18. Are there resources for parents/guardians of gifted children?
Yes. The GATE Office has a small lending library from which parents may borrow materials. The Capitol Region GATE Consortium is an organization of administrators, teachers, and parents who meet monthly from September through May—type the name into your search engine. The California Association for the Gifted (CAG) has a wealth of information available for purchase as well as teacher and parent reps in different regions who are willing to make presentations or talk with you. If you join the organization, you will receive monthly publications and flyers about parent meetings and conferences.
19. If I do not reside in Davis, can my child apply for self-contained GATE classes?
If your child is attending Davis schools on an interdistrict transfer (IDT) or if you are requesting one and your child meets the qualifications for intellectually gifted, you may submit a request for placement in self-contained classes. However, students on IDTs will be placed after all eligible Davis residents. Once a child is placed in the GATE classes, he/she may continue so long as the parent/guardian submits the annual Confirmation of Enrollment Form.