Overview of GATE/Honors Program
The Simi Valley Unified School District has an array of groupings and structures in grades 3 to 12 to meet the needs of GATE identified students. All programs and services for students are provided during the regular school day to ensure all students equal access to the curriculum.
At the elementary level (grades kindergarten to 6th, we have GATE Cluster School programs. GATE identified students living within the attendance area of an elementary school without a GATE Cluster program may apply to attend the GATE Cluster School program designated for their attendance area. Transportation to these schools is the responsibility of the parents.
GATE students are grouped in general education classes at each grade level to provide the GATE students the chance to interact with non-GATE identified students on a daily basis. The core curriculum provides the basis for instruction but differs in pacing, complexity, depth, and novelty.
At each of our three middle schools, the GATE Program in 6th grade mirrors the program in the elementary schools. In 7th and 8th grades, GATE identified students who are excelling academically may enroll in Honors classes. Honors classes have distinct features such as extended content. Because participation in Honors classes is based on student achievement, GATE identification does not automatically ensure admission. Non-GATE identified students who excel and meet additional criteria, will be considered for placement in the Honors classes. Honors classes will be offered in the three core content areas: social studies, English and science. Mathematics placement will be determined using alternate criteria.
At our two comprehensive high schools (Royal High School and Simi Valley High School) and our magnet high school (Santa Susana High School), GATE identified students may enroll in a variety of Honors and Advanced Placement courses. Honors/AP courses have distinctive features in terms of extended content and additional workload that set them apart from regular high school courses. Because the program at the high school level is based on student achievement, GATE identification does not automatically ensure admission to Honors/AP courses.
The GATE Program is founded on a philosophy developed to meet the unique needs of our gifted learners. Program goals are to:
Provide and offer a specialized learning environment based on differentiated learning opportunities
Develop a commitment to constructive ethical standards
Foster intellectual growth through the emphasis on higher order thinking skills, problem solving, critical thinking, and the teaching of investigation and inquiry techniques
Assist with the social development of gifted learners both in and out of the classroom
Develop an appreciation for task commitment and a “can do” attitude
Foster the development of creativity within the gifted learner and an appreciation of individual thinking and uniqueness
Characteristics of GATE Students
Students identified for the GATE program often possess similar characteristics. The list of characteristics can be extensive, the those most often cited are as follows:
- Has a large background of information on a variety of subjects
- Grasps and retains knowledge without drill and repetition
- Asks higher level questions
- Easily understands abstract or difficult concepts
- Possesses intellectual curiosity
- Transfers previously learned information to new situations
- Researches areas of personal interest
- Possesses advanced vocabulary and is verbally fluent
- Possesses a heightened sense of justice
The Nomination and Acceptance Process
In the SVUSD, all students (grades 2 to 5) are eligible to be referred for an assessment to determine eligibility for the GATE program. Referrals can be submitted by a teacher, administrator and/or parent. Students who do not qualify in a given year may be referred for assessment the following year. Our district uses multiple measures to determine eligibility. The measures used include California Standards Test Scaled Scores in mathematics and English/language arts, their performance on the Otis Lennon Test and grades. New students to our district, who have previously been identified GATE, are eligible to participate in our programs upon enrollment if identification criteria meet our district’s standards.
The identification process usually occurs during the spring for placement in the fall. Once identified, students remain GATE identified regardless if they choose to participate or not participate in the GATE Program.
All GATE curricula meet or exceed the state standards and focus on depth, complexity, acceleration and novelty. Intellectual growth is fostered through the emphasis on higher order thinking skills, investigation and inquiry techniques, and the use of various questioning techniques designed to elicit higher-level responses. Metacognition, where students are encouraged to analyze and evaluate their own thinking, is emphasized.
Through a differentiated curriculum, teachers utilize a variety of instructional strategies designed to promote inquiry, self-directed learning, abstract thinking, and the development of big ideas.
Technology is often used as a tool to enhance the student’s educational experiences. All schools and classrooms are connected to the Internet and possess a variety of software/presentation programs and hardware products that provide students the opportunity to extend their knowledge in areas of interest or academic strength.
It is our intention, as funding allows, to have all GATE teachers participate in training that prepares them to teach our GATE identified students. Our goal is to have teachers obtain one of two levels of GATE Certification. They are:
- A District GATE Certificate: This four-day institute is presented by a GATE consultant who is a recognized expert in the field of GATE education
- A University or California Association for the Gifted (CAG) GATE Certificate: This certificate is presented to those who participate in a University or CAG sponsored program. This requires teachers to attend numerous college level courses.
- GATE teachers are encourage to periodically attend workshops and/or conventions in order to remain current regarding trends and best practices related to GATE education.
We encourage parent participation in the planning and evaluation of the GATE program. Parents of identified students are invited to attend GATE Advisory meetings. A GATE Newsletter is published three times each year highlighting activities and events at the various schools. We strive to communicate and educate parents concerning our program and about recent developments in GATE education using the newsletter, offering parent education opportunities and encouraging parents to participate in the GATE Advisory meetings
If you have questions concerning the GATE program at your child's school, please contact the principal or call the District’s GATE Clerk, Kathy Petersen, 805-306-4500 ext. 4213.