Gifted and Talented Education Program
The purpose of the Tustin Unified School District GATE Program is to provide gifted and talented students with an instructional program that meets their unique and diverse educational needs.
The purpose of the Tustin Unified School District GATE Program is to provide gifted and talented students with an instructional program that meets their unique and diverse educational needs. Instructional support for gifted learners is based on current research and best practice in the field of gifted education, and offers the necessary challenge for gifted students to reach their fullest potential. The Tustin Unified School District Gifted and Talented Education Program provides students with a differentiated core curriculum that is designed to provide depth and complexity in thinking as well as opportunities for novelty and in-depth research, while nurturing their social and emotional well-being. For more information, contact the GATE Department at TUSDGATEinfo@tustin.k12.ca.us or call us at (714) 730-7301, ext. 372.
300 South C Street Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 730-7301 ext. 372
- Advanced Primary Learner (APL)
- Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)
- Parent Participation
- Summer Scholars
What is the APL Program?
The Advanced Primary Learner (APL) program is designed to address the needs of primary students in grades one and two who have demonstrated advanced and potentially gifted capabilities. The APL program is the foundation for recognizing and meeting the needs of early advanced and potentially gifted students, without the pressures of completing formal GATE testing. This program provides the students with a more rigorous and challenging core curriculum within the classroom setting. APL is an important component of the district’s current GATE Program as it recognizes potentially gifted and advanced learners in their early years, thus allowing teachers to begin challenging them appropriately while building a healthy continuum of rigor and growth. APL students are clustered into groups within their classroom and receive a differentiated curriculum that provides challenging and advanced opportunities. APL teachers are trained to use a variety of strategies designed to meet the unique academic and social/emotional needs of advanced primary and potentially gifted students. APL students are taught by GATE trained teachers.A variety of informal multiple measures will be used for determining eligibility.
How are students selected to participate?
Participation in the APL program is determined through multiple criteria, including district benchmarks in reading, writing, and math, as well as report cards, work samples, and parent/teacher observations. Students in kindergarten and first grade may be screened for APL for participation beginning the following school year.
Program Options for APL Students
Home School Cluster – APL identified students are formally clustered full-time in a general education classroom. All elementary school sites provide a cluster APL program in grades one and two. These clusters are designed to provide challenging learning opportunities that promote and support critical thinking prompts.
APL Magnet – A magnet program is offered through Tustin Memorial Academy where APL identified students in grades one and two are enrolled in full time, self-contained classrooms. APL students are provided with challenging learning opportunities that promote critical thinking using GATE strategies and thinking prompts in full classroom setting of APL students. For information on the enrollment process, contact the school at (714) 730-7546.
OVERALL PROGRAM DESIGN
Elementary GATE teachers at all sites complete a GATE training program to provide differentiated learning experiences and to address gifted needs, abilities, and interests. GATE students (grades 3-5) are clustered into groups and receive a differentiated curriculum that is challenging and appropriate for their advanced levels of thinking. GATE cluster teachers are trained to use a variety of teaching strategies and each school plans opportunities for gifted students to develop and enhance their skills.
GATE Magnet—A GATE and APL magnet program is offered through Tustin Memorial Academy (TMA). In grades 1-5, identified GATE and APL students are enrolled in full time, self-contained classrooms, which are designed to provide enriching and differentiated experiences for students. Due to high demand, a lottery system is used for enrollment. For information, contact Tustin Memorial Academy at (714) 730-7546.
Middle School GATE students are often placed in Honors classes in their area(s) of strength. There is a continued focus on differentiation and depth and complexity of the core curriculum, as well as the social and emotional needs of gifted middle school students. Additionally, there are opportunities for acceleration and enrichment options at specific sites.
Columbus Tustin Middle School offers a Pre-Pathway to International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Columbus Tustin Middle School Pre-Pathway to International Baccalaureate Magnet Program functions as a “school within a school” and offers students a unique, collaborative learning environment. Students in the magnet program interact as a cohort of diverse learners immersed in an inquiry and project based approach to learning. Magnet teachers design learning experiences to stimulate intellectual curiosity, creativity, and risk taking with the goal of encouraging independent thinking, collaborative learning, and real-world problem solving.
Legacy Magnet Academy is Tustin Unified School District’s newest magnet school and only 6th-12th grade campus. At LMA, students receive all core content taught through the lens of TIDE: Technology, Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship.
High schools offer Honors and Advanced Placement classes in various subjects. Other opportunities appropriate for GATE students are available at designated sites. These include the International Baccalaureate program, Pathway Programs, and the Early College Program.
At each school, the principal monitors the program, provides leadership, and maintains support for GATE teachers. The implementation of the program and ongoing teacher GATE training is monitored and provided by the District GATE office. The district also assists schools with identification of potential GATE students, district-wide differentiation training, curriculum development, and facilitates parent education.
The Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Community Advisory Committee (CAC) of Tustin Unified School District are parents and site representatives who meet throughout the year with the goal of protecting and improving the GATE program.
If you are interested in serving as your school's parent rep, please talk with your site principal and then complete the GATE CAC Community Advisory Member Application.
To better understand the GATE program, GATE instruction, and gifted learners
To gain updated information on the program and in the GATE education field
To provide input at both the site and district levels
To work together and assist in program planning, evaluation, and other GATE-related issues
To share information, communicate with and serve as a liaison to the school site
Opportunities to participate in district wide GATE events
2021-22 Meeting Schedule (Meetings are Virtual, 4:30-5:45PM)
September 9, 2021
January 27, 2022
April 28, 2022 (4:30-5:45 pm)
The Summer Scholars Program is an opportunity for APL and GATE identified students to strengthen skills, deepen conceptual understanding, and expand their knowledge during a week of thematic differentiated instruction focusing on critical thinking through the use of GATE strategies.
The program is open to current TUSD APL/GATE students who will be in grades 2-5 in the 2021-22 school year. The cost is $140 per student. Due to the overwhelming response to the program, students are selected for the program using a lottery system.
Who are the teachers that teach Summer Scholars? The Summer Scholars teachers are exemplary TUSD teachers that are GATE certified and are well versed in GATE strategies. These teachers are all demonstration teachers that open their classrooms for colleagues to come observe best practices for gifted education.
How many students are in each class? Second-Fifth grade have 18-20 students in each class. All safety guidelines will continue during Summer Scholars.
What is a typical school day? 8:15-12:00 Students have a 15-minute recess/snack break around 10am. Each grade level has a different focus (See Grade Level Descriptions) but all grade levels use an inquiry based process of learning.
Can parents visit classrooms? For student safety, the campus is closed. Students will share a digital open house with parents.
Why are there so many adults on campus? Summer Scholars is a lab model school. We train our teachers during this week. We typically have around 20-30 teachers on campus each day. Our teachers that are in GATE certification learn GATE strategies and then go into classroom to watch the lessons being taught by our Summer Scholars Demonstration Teachers.
My child is sick and unable to attend Summer Scholars. My child is not able to attend Summer Scholars today. Please call the GATE Office (714-730-7301 ext. 372) by 8:15 am to let us know of an absence. If you know of an absence in advance, you may let your child's teacher know. GATE Office Hours: 7:30-4:30.
My child has medication that needs to be kept at school. If medication needs to be available to be administered at school, all the same conditions for a school site must be met. Here is the form in English and Spanish that is required.
- 2021-22 Process and Timeline
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Cognitive Test
- My Child Qualified, Now What?
- My Child Didn't Qualify, Now What?
Students in grades K-8 can be referred by a teacher, parent, counselor, or administrator for Advanced Primary Learner (APL)/Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) screening based on a student’s learning behaviors, cognitive abilities, and/or classroom performance. In both options, student profiles
based on multiple criteria are reviewed by site and district screening committees consisting of administrators, GATE specialists, and GATE trained teachers.
*Students are screening for eligibility for 2022-23 school year.
2021-22 Screening & Identification Timeline
September - parents of students in grades K-8 emailed registration form via Parent Square.
September 13-24, 2021: Permission to screen forms available
September 27, 2021: Permission to screen forms due
October 18-27, 2021: Cognitive test administered at school site during the school day for students in grades 2-8
November-December: Student portfolio collected including district work samples (additional grade level opportunities to demonstrate critical/divergent thinking), assessment data (report card, STAR Reading/Math, and CAASPP) parent feedback (parent survey submitted with permission to screen form) and teacher feedback.
December: Site and district portfolio review
Mid-January: Eligibility letters mailed home via US Mail
Screening & Identification Frequently Asked Questions
GATE = Gifted and Talented Education (Grade 3-8)
APL = Advanced Primary Learner (Grades 1-2)
How can a student screen for GATE or APL? Students in grades K-8 can be referred by a parents, teachers, counselor, administrator or other persons familiar with the student’s performance. Parent must consent for a child to participate in screening. Consent forms are emailed to parents via Parent Square in mid-September.
Who should participate GATE screening? What are GATE traits? Students who typically qualify for GATE have advanced thinking skills and the ability to apply what they know. Please review the below documents for more information.
What criteria is used to identify students for GATE? TUSD uses a multiple criteria process (portfolio) for eligibility. Student portfolios include district work samples (additional grade level opportunities to demonstrate critical/divergent thinking), assessment data (report card, STAR Reading/Math, and CAASPP) parent feedback (parent survey submitted with permission to screen form) and teacher feedback. Students screening for GATE (grades 2-8) also take a cognitive test.
Who administers the tests for GATE identification? Each school site has a GATE Lead Teacher that is GATE certified and trained to administer the cognitive test. The test is administered during the school day. The 2021 testing window is October 18-27 . Please make every effort to have your child at school all day every day during the testing window. If a student is absent during the administration time, makeups may not be possible.
Should I tell my child about the GATE testing? Say, “Your teachers are interested in how you think. You will be doing some activities that help to show how you think. This will help them to know more about you." Let him/her know that there will be some interesting puzzling questions to try and solve; different than any test he/she has taken in the past.
Avoid saying this is a test to see how smart you are.
*Normally we do not tell parents/students the exact date/time of the cognitive test in advance because this sometimes causes students more anxiety. Anxiety can cause some students to do less well on the test.
What should my child do to prepare for the test? Nothing. The cognitive test are used to measure how a student thinks and solves problems. It is not an academic test and there is no way to study for the test.
If my child qualifies for GATE, do they have to change schools? No. Your child can participate in the GATE program at all TUSD elementary and middle schools.
If my child is not APL identified, can they still be GATE identified? Yes. They must take the cognitive abilities test and go through the GATE screening process.
My child was GATE identified in a previous school district. Will he/she automatically be GATE identified with TUSD? No. Every school district develops their own qualification criteria for GATE eligibility. Once you transfer to TUSD, please notify your school site that your child was previously GATE identified. The school site will contact the TUSD GATE office to begin the process of reviewing the GATE records from the previous district. If the criteria that the previous district used to qualify your child matches the criteria we use in TUSD, we will likely qualify the student. If the criteria does not match, then we will recommend that the student screen in TUSD at the next available opportunity.
How many times can my student test for GATE? Students can only take the GATE test a maximum of three times.
My child attends a private school but we live in the TUSD boundaries. Can he or she be screened for GATE? Yes, but only during the TUSD screening window. The due date to Consent to Test in the 2021-22 school year is September 27 @ 4:30pm. We do not screen Private school students who are in grades K-1.
We provide an opportunity for students, grades 2-8, who live within the TUSD boundaries but attend a private school to take the cognitive abilities test and go through the screening process for GATE identification. To register for the test, parents must email the GATE office at TUSDGATEinfo@tustin.k12.ca.us and provide proof of residency (utility bill or rental/lease agreement) and a photo ID. Once residency is confirmed, the Consent to Test Form will be emailed to the parent.
Is private IQ testing accepted for GATE identification purposes? Private assessments are not accepted for GATE identification purposes. This is so the screening process is equitable for all students.
Most students will take the OLSAT 8. Some students that are new English Language Learners will take the NNAT.
What is the OLSAT 8?
The OLSAT 8 (Otis- Lennon School Ability Test) is a nationally normed standardized, norm-referenced, group administered aptitude test that measures verbal and non-verbal abilities. The OLSAT’s purpose is to assess a student’s cognitive abilities, or how one thinks. It is not an academic achievement assessment that aims to assess what a student knows.
“The OLSAT 8 is based on the idea that to learn new things, students must be able to perceive accurately, to recognize and recall what has been perceived, to think logically, to understand relationships, to abstract from a set of particulars and to apply generalization to new and different contexts. This complex set of abilities is assessed through performance on such tasks as detecting similarities and differences, solving analogies and matrixes, classifying, and determining sequence.”
Is there a time limit? There is not a time limit for second grade; however, there is a time limit for third through eighth grades (time limit varies by grade). Most students do not finish the test in the allotted time. Students are made aware of the time limit during the directions before beginning the test.
What areas are measured on the test? The OLSAT is comprised of both verbal and nonverbal questions.
What are the verbal and nonverbal scores assessing? The verbal score is made up of verbal comprehension and verbal reasoning tasks.
Verbal Comprehension assesses abilities relating to understanding and manipulating words in different contexts. It tests the ability to understand relationships between words, derive meaning from words, understand subtle differences between words that are similar and control and work with word to produce logical, meaningful sentences.
Verbal Reasoning assesses the ability to understand relationships. It tests the ability to find and deduce relationships between words, understand and draw conclusions from new situations, and make comparisons and observe differences or similarities.
The Nonverbal score is made up of pictorial reasoning (grade 2 only), figural reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
Pictorial Reasoning (grade 2 only) assesses the ability to reason using pictures and visual items. It tests the ability to understand and deduce relationships between objects, understand similarities and differences, and deduce patterns and progressions.
Figural Reasoning assesses a child’s ability to infer relationships between different geometric shapes and figures, understand patterns and progressions, compare and contrast different figures or sets of figures and manipulate and work with figures in a spatial context.
Quantitative Reasoning (grades 3-8) assesses the ability to infer and understand relationships with numbers and deduce and use computational rules in context.
How can I prepare my child for the OLSAT 8 ? There is no way to study for the cognitive abilities test. This test is based on the way your child thinks. Students are given practice questions before the test commences.
Understanding the Score Report:
Raw Score: This score is simply the number of items answered correctly.
School Ability Index (SAI): The raw score is then converted using the SAI score, which compares your child to other children to the same age group who took the OLSAT 8 during the same month.
Percentile Rank: This scores is used to compare the student’s performance to that of a national sample of students of the same age. For example, if a 10-year-old student has a percentile range of 80%, this means the student scored as well or higher than 80% of 10-year-old students who were tested nationally.
What is the NNAT3?
The NNAT3 (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) is a nonverbal test that is standardized, norm-referenced and group administered assessment that does not require a student to read, write or speak (nonverbal). The NNAT assesses nonverbal reasoning and general problem solving skills in children.
Is there a time limit? Yes, there is a time limit for the NNAT3. Most students do not finish the test in the allotted time. Students are made aware of the time limit during the directions before beginning the test.
How can I prepare my child for the NNAT3? There is no way to study for the cognitive abilities test. This test is based on the way your child thinks. Students are given practice test questions before the test commences.
Understanding the score report:
Raw Score: This score is simply the number of items answered correctly.
Naglieri Ability Index (NAI): The raw score is then converted using the NAI score, which compares your child to other children to the same age group who took the NNAT3.
Percentile Rank: This score is used to compare the student’s performance to that of a national sample of students of the same age. For example, if a 10-year-old student has a percentile range of 80%, this means the student scored as well or higher than 80% of 10-year-old students who were tested nationally.
My child qualified for APL or GATE, now what?
APL - Advanced Primary Learner (1st & 2nd Grades)
GATE - Gifted and Talented Education (3rd-8th Grades)
If my child qualifies for APL or GATE, do they have to change schools?No. Your child can participate in the APL/GATE program at all TUSD elementary and middle schools. Students are placed in APL/ GATE clusters with a GATE trained teacher.
Which schools have the APL/GATE program? All TUSD elementary and middle schools have a GATE program. All TUSD elementary schools have an APL Program. Each school site has a Lead GATE Teacher, who is a great resource for information regarding how the GATE program operates at each school site. (Contact your school site for the name and contact information of the Lead GATE Teacher.)
Will my child be in a class with all GATE students? All elementary schools (except Tustin Memorial Academy) have cluster classes of APL students (grades 1-2) and GATE students (grades 3-8), so there will be a mix of GATE and non-GATE identified students. This model allows the classroom teacher to more effectively differentiate instruction and provide GATE students interaction with both their intellectual and age peers.
Since my student is APL or GATE identified, can they automatically enroll at Tustin Memorial Academy (TMA)? All TUSD students have the option to enter the lottery to attend Tustin Memorial Academy (TMA) regardless of APL/GATE identification. Whether your child is or is not APL/GATE identified, they must enter the lottery in order to attend. Transfer requests must be submitted through TUSD Student Services. Please check the TUSD district website for specific dates. To participate in the lottery, a transfer must be requested during the transfer period. Please go to TUSD Transfers for more information.
How is instruction different for my APL/GATE child? Our GATE teachers participate in a rigorous 3 year program to get certification to teach GATE clusters/classes. They receive training to meet the academic and social/emotional needs of gifted and advanced learners. GATE teachers get to know student’s specific interests and learning preferences and adjust instruction and curriculum to meet individual needs. Differentiated instruction opportunities for students to think with depth and complexity are embedded in all content areas throughout their school day. Students participating in GATE will not have more classwork or homework than other students. GATE teachers carefully plan lessons for students that appropriately challenge and engage students. Social-emotional needs are also addressed and students learn what gifted means and they learn strategies to deal with anxiety, stress and perfectionism.
Do I need to consent to have my child participate in the GATE program? No. TUSD has a passive consent model. If at any time, a parent/guardian does not wish to have their child participate in the GATE program, they may decline participation by sending an email to email@example.com.
Once placed in the GATE program, will a student need to be screened each year? No. A student who qualifies for GATE, will remain GATE identified until graduation and does not need to test more than once. Students transitioning from elementary to middle school will automatically remain in the GATE program.
If my child is GATE identified in elementary school, will he or she automatically be in honors classes in middle school? The GATE label is not a barrier or pass to honors or Advanced Placement classes in middle or high school. Students that meet the school site requirements for the course can take honors or Advanced Placement courses in middle school and high school.
My child just qualified, why is it not updated as a program in Aeries? Students screened this year for eligibility next year. Students that recently qualified will be updated in Aeries in August.
What doe the GATE eligibility get my child?
- Explicit instruction on scholarly behaviors
- Independent Research Projects
- Passion Project/Genius Hour
- Empathy and understanding of differences
- Opportunity to work with intellectual peers
- Teachers who nurture and encourage out of the box thinking
- Teachers who use all kinds of instructional moves to get kids thinking in different ways: thinking prompts, logic lessons, universal themes, think like a disciplinarian, leveled questions, extension and more
What can I do at home in order to reinforce GATE concepts for my child? Ask about your child’s passion and find opportunities for them to explore and learn more in their area of interest.
Does being GATE identified mean that my child will have more homework? No. Your child will have opportunities throughout the day to exercise their intellect. They will have homework that aligns with the school site homework policy.
Does GATE go up to middle school and high school? Will GATE label follow them in middle school? TUSD GATE eligibility will remain a part of the student’s record until graduation. Students transitioning from elementary to middle school will automatically remain in the GATE program. Our GATE teacher certification program is K-8. Students in middle school are placed with GATE trained teachers whenever possible. We do not have a GATE program in high school. However, students advanced needs are typical met through course selection (honors/Advanced Placement courses), International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs, Early College/Dual Enrollment, or technical pathways.
What support is available to parents?
- TUSD GATE Program Resources Website
- OCC GATE Parent Nights (usually in the Spring)
- Organizations (OCC GATE, CAG, SENG, NAGC) have Information and Resources (including conferences with parent strands)
- Site Meetings
- Classroom Teacher
- Gate Lead Teacher
- GATE Coordinator
- Other GATE Parents
My child did not qualify for GATE, now what? My child received a results letter saying he/she did not qualify. When can he/she test again? If your child did not qualify your child may participate in the screening process next year. Students may screen a maximum of 3 times between 2nd-8th grades.
My child is very upset that he did not qualify for GATE. What do I do? The screening process is not meant to punish or reward anyone. The purpose of the screening is to identify students that NEED different learning opportunities than grade level peers. The label is really for educators and parents to understand more about the child. There are characteristics (some good and some not so good) that are associated with kids with very high intellect and these students are at risk of being unhappy, bored, uninspired, underachievers, socially isolated and many drop out of college.
Ask your child how school is working for them. Ask what they like and don’t like. Who do they hang out with? What were they hoping would happen if they “got into” the GATE program? Sometimes kids feel they have disappointed their parents and are only upset because they think you are upset. They might feel like they won’t have access to something (which is usually not the case).
What else should I do? Our goal as educators is to provide a learning environment that meets the social and cognitive needs of all our students. I always recommend that parents communicate their concerns to their child's teacher. The more teachers know about a student (interests, needs, challenges, etc), the better they can support them.
I want my child to be a “higher level” learner, too. Standards are rigorous and all students have access to high levels of learning. Education has changed a lot in the last several years and learning opportunities continue to be individualized and differentiated so students interests and needs are addressed. If you are concerned that your child is not learning at a “high level” meet with your child’s teacher and address your concerns (sooner than later).
The GATE label is not a barrier or pass to honors or Advanced Placement classes in middle or high school. Students that meet the school site requirements for the course can take honors or Advanced Placement courses in middle school and high school.