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Assessment, Identification & Placement

Assessment, Identification, and Placement in GATE is under review, and will be changed to be more inclusive.  This is an intensive process that will take significant time to find and vet a new procedure. 

If you would like to receive notice when that process is posted on this webpage, please provide information here

Gifted and Talented Education in the San Mateo Foster City School District

The goal of Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) is to initiate intellectual struggle, empathetic collaboration, and academic rigor in an environment characterized by analytic, creative, and critical thinking.

These goals have seamless integration with our District Vision, “The San Mateo-Foster City School District educates and inspires students to live, lead, and learn with integrity and joy.”  They are embedded in the Mission of the San Mateo-Foster City School District.

Our students are prepared to positively impact a dynamic and diverse world as they:

  • Develop life and career skills through academic excellence and personal wellness
  • Become critical thinkers while taking responsible risks in their learning
  • Acquire and exchange knowledge through collaboration and effective communication
  • Utilize creativity and technology to maximize their potential
  • Demonstrate socially responsible citizenship

Prior to 2001, GATE was seen as a program that offered a different curriculum to students who met a particular set of criteria (determined by each district as GATE has not been a mandated program in California).  At the beginning of this millennium, a new paradigm emerged from the passage of AB2313, and services for gifted students became an integral part of the core curriculum, resulting in improved teaching and learning for everyone. 

A decade and a half later, the adoption of the Common Core State Standards promises to enhance that core curriculum with literacy standards aimed at developing students who are college and career ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.   From the California Department of Education Website, Students who are college and career ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language:

  • Demonstrate independence
  • Build strong content knowledge
  • Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline
  • Comprehend as well as critique
  • Value evidence
  • Use technology and digital media strategically and capably
  • Come to understand other perspectives and cultures

Similarly, math standards call for content to be connected as students engage in mathematical tasks.  These connections are essential to support the development of students’ broader mathematical understanding (to develop mathematical giftedness in students).  The Standards for Mathematical Practice are summarized as:

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • Model with mathematics
  • Use appropriate tools strategically
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for and make use of structure
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Where is the GATE Program?

Many people ask where our GATE program is; the answer is that it is embedded every day in the career and life skills, academic excellence, personal wellness, critical and creative thinking, responsible academic risks (challenges to move into academically uncomfortable activities which have a solid academic foundation), socially responsible citizenship, and communication and collaboration in a variety of settings.  EVERY student has the opportunity to participate in the academic and social/emotional development activities that were once reserved only for students who had formal identification.  Whether or not a student is formally identified as GATE, they will be served in heterogeneous classrooms where the mission of our district is the center of teaching.

Gifted Education is no longer part of the California Education code.  Minimal funding that used to be provided is no longer available, and there are no mandates, suggestions, or funding for gifted education  While it was, the Education Code related to Gifted and Talented Education in California  was found in sections 52200-52212.

  • Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) is a permissive program – there are no codes or requirements that any district provide programs pursuant to those chapters.
  • There is no state or federal funding source (beginning in 2004) for this program
  • That code defines “gifted and talented pupil” as “a pupil enrolled in public elementary or secondary school…” (we do not test or identify any student who is not enrolled in our public school system, regardless of residency)

In addition to the outstanding educational program in all schools, for students with severe needs, the district has an intensive intervention for fourth and fifth graders. To be eligible for the Special Day Class1 for gifted students in fourth grade, that student must:

  1. be a student in the San Mateo-Foster City Public Schools in their third grade year
  2. live inside the district boundaries (students who receive inter-district transfer for a specialized magnet program are not eligible for this class as their admission to the district was for a different purpose)
  3. Score in the 99%ile in the verbal and quantitative domains of a nationally-normed, district-administered test.  We do not consider outside testing as all students must have equal access – Education Code 52200 (a).

Assessment for that class happens in fall of the third grade year for entry in the fourth grade (program changes happen often, and as we receive increasingly sophisticated data from state assessments, the need for this assessment will wane).  Please check this website in the fall of a student's third grade year for more information on whether or not separate "GATE assessment" will be offered. 

Middle school is an especially challenging time for students and families. While all middle schools provide the same rigorous curriculum described above, the Bayside S.T.E.M. Academy partners with Stanford University for Design Thinking.  To learn more about that program please visit the Bayside S.T.E.M. website.  To learn more about gifted education at Bayside S.T.E.M., please check their website in early Fall. All information events and tours are scheduled through the school.  For a student to be considered, a Request for Placement must be submitted by clicking on the link in this part of the website, which is live only from the second week in December to the last week in January.

1 Special Day Class is a term most often used in Special Education. Historically, this term has been used in our district because of language in former Education Code 52206 (a).It is a class that meets every day during regular school hours, but has only students who are extreme outliers 


Information in this website is based on the following resources

1Booster, M., Clark, B., Gosfield, M., Kerr, J., & Littrell, B.  (2006). CAG Position Paper: Highly and Profoundly Gifted Children.  Sacramento:  California Association for the Gifted.

1Booster, M., Clark, B., Gosfield, M., Kerr, J., & Littrell, B.  (2008). The Leadership Challenge: A Guidebook for Administrators.  Sacramento:  California Association for the Gifted.

Additional References:

Clark, B. (2008).  Growing up gifted (7th ed.).  Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.

Davis, G., & Rimm, S. (2004) Education of the gifted and talented (5th ed.).  Boston:  Allyn & Bacon.

Gross, M. (1993).  Exceptionally gifted children.  New York:  Routledge.

Kaplan, S. & Gould, B. (2003).  Depth and Complexity Icon Cards.  Los Angeles:  Educator to Educator

Silverman, L. K.  (1993).  Counseling the gifted and talented.  Denver, CO:  Love.