Safe and Creative Personalized Education (V)

We Need GATE

By Ms. Lei Xu

The term “gifted and talented,” when used in respect to students means those who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities. According to the National Association for Gifted Children and other experts, about 5 to 7 percent of children are gifted. In PUSD schools, since we have 35,000 students, this would be up to approximately 2,000 students.

Based on PUSD website, the goal of Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) is to identify cognitively gifted students and provide high quality differentiated opportunities for learning that ensure the highest levels of academic achievement. Prior to 2013, PUSD GATE Services identified students are clustered in grades 3-8, with the option to request homogeneous placement in humanities classes in grades 6-8. Differentiated instruction is utilized as a means to meet the cognitive needs of identified students, as required by California State Law.

However, during the time of state fiscal crisis, the State of California has enacted legislation that allows districts to use many state categorical program funds for general education purposes, to assist in balancing budgets. On PUSD website, it says that PUSD will continue to identify students for GATE and provide appropriate differentiated instruction in GATE cluster classrooms for GATE identified students. However, based on our survey from a few PUSD schools, gifted education is essentially non-existent in our elementary schools, limited in our middle schools, and present as honors and AP classes in our high schools.

Why do we need GATE?

•   Gifted students need GATE programs that will challenge and enable them to make continuous progress in school. General education program is not yet ready to meet the needs of gifted students due to lack of general educators’ training and education materials. Gifted students learn in a different manner and at an accelerated rate compared to their peers in the classroom and therefore require gifted programs to develop and apply their talents. Giving them additional worksheets will not teach them more. The GATE students would be bored, stop learning and underperformed.

•   Several studies have shown that gifted programs have a long-term impact on these students’ postsecondary achievements. The students who had participated in gifted programs maintained their interests over time and stayed involved in creative productive work after they finished college and graduate school. If they do not acquire necessary skills in how to study, how to learn, and how to achieve a goal, it will harm them in their careers and lives in the future.

We need PUSD to provide academically aligned education for gifted students to teach them skills needed and keep them engaged in school so that these students can be succeed in their careers and lives, and contribute to our community in the future.

About the author

Ms. Lei Xu is a mother of three PUSD students. She and her family relocated to San Diego from Canada seven years ago. Lei holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from Carleton University and she is currently a CPA.

Next issue:

Safe and Creative Personalized Education (VI): Common Core in PUSD 

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