Let’s consider the issue of whom our Gifted and Talented Education program is for. Some in the community have suggested that we reduce GATE classrooms to those who are “tragically flunking.” They claim that GATE was originally designed to help only those children who were doing poorly in regular classrooms, but showed high potential in standardized tests.
This is wrong for at least two reasons.
First, state law mandates that GATE is for the student “who is identified as possessing demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of high performance capability.” The education code states that the program should provide “unique opportunities for high-achieving and underachieving pupils” (education code section 52200).
Second, the program has long been designed to provide appropriate instruction in a GATE classroom for students who were performing well in school as well as for those who were not. Even in 1994, the first criterion for identifying GATE-eligible students relied on demonstrated development. The first criterion was “students who demonstrate exceptional intellectual development.” That plan even required the GATE coordinator to “search lists of honor roll students” in an effort to find students who had not been nominated by their teachers.
We should embrace the district’s mission — to help all our children “reach their full potential.” The GATE classrooms have been highly successful in helping all children achieve — those in GATE classrooms and those not. Our existing GATE program has been proven to work. We should embrace what is clearly working.