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Assessment, Identification & Placement

During this school year we have been reflecting on our  current practices and making decisions about what is working for students and areas where we can improve. The information below reflects the FAQs from our parent community as well as a history of GATE educational policy in California.  This site was updated on January 21, 2018.

For current 3rd grade students:

When is the GATE assessment?

The GATE assessment will occur in February. Specific dates will be sent to all 3rd grade parents in January from the site principals. In an effort to include more students, especially those who are historically underrepresented in GATE, we will be testing students for GATE at the school sites, during the school day. There will be a make-up day for students who are absent.

How will my child know to take the assessment?

The last day to sign students up for the assessment is Tuesday, February 6th. Please email Brianne Bishop if you would like your child to opt-in. 

Which assessment is being administered?

This year we will be using a nationally-normed, secured, online assessment. The assessment we have used in the past is very time intensive for both students and staff. There was also a high degree of student stress with the administration of this assessment, which we want to avoid.

How can I prepare my child for the GATE assessment?

The best thing to do is to ensure your child is happy and healthy. There is no test-prep. The more stressed your child is, the harder the test will be for them.

When will I get the results?

Because it is an online assessment, the Education Services department will analyze the results shortly after the assessment window closes and we will notify parents as soon as possible.

What if I think my child’s needs will be best met in the GATE program at College Park?

Students with the highest scores will be offered a placement in the 4th grade GATE class at College Park for the 2018-2019 school year. A tour of College Park will be held in February for parents of students who are invited. 

Will I have to put in for a transfer?

Admission to the GATE program is separate from the SMFCSD transfer process so those timelines are not relevant to this process. If you believe your child will qualify and you are interested in the GATE program at College Park, you do not need to worry about the December 21st transfer deadline that is listed on the district website. This timeline refers to Magnet Schools and Neighborhood School transfers only.

What if I don’t want to send my child to College Park but I just want to see if they are gifted?

There is no one way to define a child who is gifted, in fact as educators, we believe that all students have gifts. The test we administer is a cognitive assessment that only considers one aspect of a child’s abilities. Your child is welcome to take the assessment and we will share the results with you.

For current 5th grade students:

My 5th grader has taken the GATE assessment in the past and has not qualified OR my child has never taken the GATE assessment OR my child has taken the GATE assessment in another school district. Can s/he take the assessment now?

The last day to sign students up for the assessment is Tuesday, February 6th. Please email Brianne Bishop if you would like your child to opt-in. 

We are enrolling in SMFCSD for the first time and I think my child would do well in the GATE program at Bayside.  What do I do?

Call the Education Services Department at 312-7238. We will be scheduling a GATE assessment for current 5th graders. Please note that the assessment will only be given to students who are enrolled in SMFCSD for the 2018-19 school year. 

My child is not in 3rd or 5th grade - can she still take the GATE test?

We are only offering the GATE test to current 3rd and 5th grade students this year.

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)


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.