Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

ABC Unified School District
Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program
Office of Curriculum and Professional Learning
Dr. Beth Bray, Supervisor   (562) 926-5566   x 21075
Nataly Navarro, Program Specialist   (562) 926-5566   x 21187
Gifted and Talented Education is provided for all identified students beginning in fourth grade. The GATE program is delivered by specially trained classroom teachers at all elementary schools in the district. At middle and high schools, GATE students can participate in Advanced or Honors classes.

District Vision for the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program

The ABC Unified School District, in partnership with parents and the community, strives to inspire gifted students to utilize their talents and intellect to realize their full potential within an enriching academic environment.  The GATE program will promote complex levels of thinking by working collaboratively, seeking innovative solutions, and challenging their unique, creative abilities.

GATE Program Goals

  1. Students will become critical thinkers and problem solvers.
  2. Students will use increasingly complex levels of thinking and production.  
  3. Students will accept greater responsibility for their own learning.
  4.  Students will develop civic responsibility and an open-minded perspective towards a universal citizenship.

Common Characteristics of Gifted Individuals

Some common characteristics that many gifted individuals share are listed below; however, not all gifted children exhibit all the characteristics all the time.

  • Unusual alertness, even in infancy
  • Rapid learner; puts thoughts together quickly
  • Excellent memory
  • Unusually large vocabulary and complex sentence structure for age
  • Advanced comprehension of word nuances, metaphors and abstract ideas
  • Enjoys solving problems, especially with numbers and puzzles
  • Often self-taught reading and writing skills as preschooler
  • Deep, intense feelings and reactions
  • Highly sensitive
  • Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful
  • Idealism and sense of justice at early age
  • Concern with social and political issues and injustices
  • Longer attention span and intense concentration
  • Preoccupied with own thoughts—daydreamer
  • Learn basic skills quickly and with little practice
  • Asks probing questions
  • Wide range of interests (or extreme focus in one area)
  • Highly developed curiosity
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Puts idea or things together that are not typical
  • Keen and/or unusual sense of humor
  • Desire to organize people/things through games or complex schemas
  • Vivid imaginations (and imaginary playmates when in preschool)

Identification of Students

ABC USD conducts an annual multiple measure screening process in grades 4-7 to identify students to participate in the GATE program. The process begins prior to the start of school each year. All entering 4th through 7th grade students are screened beginning with a review of academic achievement. The process continues with a GATE Characteristic Inventory completed by teachers who have worked with the students in previous grades. Students are program eligible if they score 7 or more points during the screening process.

Academic Indicator

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) is administered every spring in grades 3-8 and 11. Students are assessed on their mastery of the English-Language Arts and mathematics standards with computer-adaptive questions and a performance task in each subject. The student CAASPP scores are reviewed every summer to identified potential GATE students. For more information on CAASPP scores, visit the California Department of Education website.

GATE Characteristic Inventory

The GATE Characteristic Inventory is a 4-point scale measure (Frequently, Occasionally, Rarely, or Never) of how often students display common characteristics of gifted children. The Inventory was developed based on the work of Joseph Renzulli (University of Connecticut, Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development). An Inventory is completed for each student who meets the Academic Indicator.
Parents of students who meet the above criteria are notified in writing of their child’s eligibility for the GATE program. Parents have the option to accept or decline the GATE program identification for their child.

Placement of Students

Elementary Schools

All elementary schools offer the GATE program for their students. Once students have been identified for the GATE program, students are placed in a GATE Cluster class at their school site.

Cluster grouping is defined as “Pupils grouped within their regular classroom setting and receive appropriately differentiated activities from the regular classroom teacher.”


  • Students entering Grades 4-6 who are identified for the GATE program will be placed in GATE clusters at their elementary school.
  • Students entering Grade 7 will be recommended for Honors Class placement at their middle school.

Middle Schools

All middle schools in the ABC USD offer advanced or honors classes in English and mathematics. GATE students who demonstrate high academic achievement can be placed in honors classes with teacher recommendation.

High Schools

All high schools in ABC USD offer Honors, Advanced Placement, and/or dual college enrollment courses for their GATE students.  These courses can be accelerated and academically challenging to meet the needs of the individual students.

Teacher Preparation

To meet the needs of gifted students, elementary GATE teachers receive specialized training to:

  • Recognize and nurture behaviors usually demonstrated by gifted students;
  • Create a learning environment in which all students will be stretched to learn;
  • Allow students to demonstrate previous mastery of concepts;
  • Provide opportunities for faster pacing of new material;
  • Incorporate students’ passionate interests into their assignments;
  • Facilitate research investigations;
  • Provide flexible grouping opportunities for the entire class

Instructional Strategies

Elementary GATE teachers use a variety of instructional strategies to help GATE students reach their full potential. Three strategies included in the GATE professional learning for teachers are Depth and Complexity Icons, curriculum compacting, and socratic seminar. A description of each of these instructional strategies follows:

Depth and Complexity Icons

The Depth and Complexity critical thinking tools are visual prompts designed to help students go beyond surface level understanding of a concept (dig deeper, depth) and enhance their ability to think critically understanding a concept with greater complexity. Students must be able to speak the language specific to a topic to gain full understanding.   Critical understanding of a topic requires knowing the details, rules and patterns associated with it, or understanding how it may have changed over time, and the varied perspectives through which it is viewed.



Depth Tools

Language of the Discipline








Big Idea


Ethical Issues




Unanswered Questions

Complexity Tools

Multiple Perspectives


Change Over Time


Across Disciplines

Curriculum Compacting

Curriculum compacting is a technique for differentiating instruction that allows teachers to make adjustments to curriculum for students who have already mastered the material to be learned, replacing content students know with new content, enrichment options, or other activities. (National Association of Gifted Children)

Socratic Seminar

Socratic seminars are named for their embodiment of Socrates’ belief in the power of asking questions, prize inquiry over information and discussion over debate.   Socratic seminars acknowledge the highly social nature of learning.

The Socratic seminar is a formal discussion, based on a text, in which the leader asks open-ended questions.  Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulate their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others.  They learn to work cooperatively and to question intelligently and civilly. (Israel, p.89)


Cluster Grouping.

Winebrenner, S., & Brulles, D. (2008). The Cluster Grouping Handbook: How to Challenge Gifted Students and Improve Achievement for All. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Press.

What is Giftedness?

National Center for Research on Gifted Education.


Giftedness Defined. National Society for the Gifted and Talented.

Common Characteristics of Gifted Individuals.

Webb, J., Gore, J., Amend, E., & DeVries, A. (2007). A parent's guide to gifted children. Tuscon, AZ:  Great Potential Press.

Depth and Complexity Icons.

Curriculum Compacting.

Socratic Seminars.

Israel, E. (2002).  “Examining Multiple Perspectives in Literature.”  In Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions in the English Classroom.  James Holden and John S. Schmit, eds.  Urbana, IL: NCTE.
The Governing Board is committed to equal opportunity for all individuals in education.  That ABC Unified School District is committed to maintaining a learning environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, violence, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived characteristics set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code and EC 220, and disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person  or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics or any unlawful consideration.  All school personnel who witness an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying must take immediate steps to intervene when safe to do so.  The District assures that the lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission or participation in District programs.  If you wish to contact the office of Title IX, please call (562) 926-5566 ext. 21170.  For more information on Section 504, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, contact the office of Academic Services at (562) 926-5566 ext. 21120.