Local News

Community group seeks change in GATE program

By From page A3 | January 22, 2013

A new organization — Proposing Alternatives in GATE Education — has formed in Davis, designed to help educate the community about different approaches to meeting the needs of intellectually gifted students in public schools. The group also hopes to stimulate broader conversation on, and support for, changes to the Davis Joint Unified School District’s GATE program.

PAGE will host its first communitywide meeting from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Blanchard Room at the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St. in Davis. It is free and open to the public.

PAGE is a collection of individuals working to advocate for change in the district’s current approach to Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) as reflected in its 2008 GATE Master Plan, said member Karen Hamilton.

Its organizational mission is to encourage the district to move toward a policy of placing the vast majority of students, including those who have been identified as “intellectually gifted,” in heterogeneous classrooms in their neighborhood/home elementary schools, and of reducing the prevalence of segregated classes in junior high school based on students’ GATE identification, she said.

“As Davis residents and parents, we have seen that the present program — with most GATE-identified students placed in self-contained classrooms in grades 4-6, and similarly grouped and segregated in grades 7-10 — has many drawbacks,” Hamilton said on behalf of PAGE.

“The program divides the community, subjects students to rigid labeling and tracking, and fails to meet the needs of ‘twice exceptional’ students who are intellectually gifted and also have special needs. The current program is inconsistent with community values of equity, inclusion and a shared commitment to raising healthy and well-adjusted young adults.

“As a district and a community, we can support and encourage teachers to provide differentiated instruction for students at all learning levels, through methods including curriculum compacting, cluster grouping, pull-out, acceleration, individual study, mentoring, enrichment and cross-campus and early college enrollment. Differentiated instruction and other alternative approaches to gifted education can provide more inclusive alternatives to the district’s present self-contained GATE program.”

Hamilton notes that review of the GATE Master Plan, currently under way in the district, offers an opportunity for substantial revision to the current program. PAGE encourages community members to attend GATE advisory meetings listed on the school district’s website, including the next one at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, and express their support for rethinking the current GATE program and considering alternatives.

Support for change also can be expressed through writing, calling or emailing school board members. The GATE Master Plan will be on the Board of Education meeting agenda several times in the coming months, including Feb. 7, and Davis residents are welcome to attend those meetings and express their views.

For more information, email Hamilton at [email protected].

Enterprise staff

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