Special students require special attention so that their gifts can be nurtured and developed in the right way. Recognizing this, the La Cañada Unified School District (LCUSD) launched the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program to provide gifted students with learning opportunities that extend beyond the normal curriculum.
How it all starts
LCUSD monitors all its students for possible eligibility into the GATE program at the end of the third grade. Those considered to be eligible should be in the 98th and 99th percentile rank. According to the school district, students under the GATE program constitute over 13 percent of the entire LCUSD student population.
About the GATE program
LCUSD’s GATE program offers a unique learning experience designed to stimulate students’ skills and maximize their intellectual capacity to the fullest. This high-quality teaching method is applied at all grade levels, taught by GATE-approved teachers who themselves receive continual training in Gifted and Talented Education. This ensures appropriately delineated lessons for each child’s unique needs in Key Learning Areas.
Lessons are delivered through a diverse selection of teaching methods including activities, projects, homework, and a variety of performance assessments.
LCUSD emphasizes that although differentiated instruction is applied at all grade levels, the GATE program allows for other learning components designed to support not only students’ intellectual development but their social and emotional potential, as well.
GATE in elementary schools
In elementary schools, GATE implements a Pull-out Program where students are transferred to an enrichment class from some non-academic class sessions. Here, they are taught more advanced lessons like biology, physics, chemistry, social influences, mathematics, and more. This enrichment class, taught by a certified GATE teacher, lasts for 45 minutes each week beginning mid-August. If a student is more inclined toward mathematics, they are made to join math sessions after school. There’s also a monthly gathering for GATE students where they participate in various project-based learning activities facilitated by GATE teachers and guest speakers.
GATE for grades 7 and 8 at La Cañada High
Outside the classroom, the LCUSD GATE program provides Grades 7 and 8 students with an array of enrichment opportunities, including:
- A once-a-week after-school session called MATHCOUNTS where students can collaboratively or individually solve complex math problems to develop their calculative skills;
- An 8th Grade GATE Homeroom for interested 8th graders who want to practice project-based learning in a homogeneous setting. The bi-weekly classes focus on science and are facilitated by LCHS 7/8 teachers.
- A 7th Grade GATE Homeroom similar to the 8th Grade GATE Homeroom, but the lesson emphasis is on history.
- Higher-level math classes for 7th and 8th grade GATE students who display exceptional ability in mathematics
GATE for high school students at La Cañada High
La Cañada High provides a challenging environment for academically gifted students with the following GATE Components:
Honors classes that offer courses with greater scope, flexibility, and application than general education classes. These courses include Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English, French, Geometry, German, Physics, Pre-Calculus, and Social Science.
Advanced Placement is also provided for those who want to receive college credit. LCHS offers Advance Placement for Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, and Computer Science, among many other academic disciplines.