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GATE Parent Meeting Questions

Parents asked many questions at the most recent district meeting about our GATE Program. Here is a list of questions and answers.


Questions around testing/identification:

Q: Does the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) get more difficult as you answer?
A: No, it is not an adaptive test.

Q: How long is the test?
A: The OLSAT test is approximately 1 hour.

Q: How many questions are on the test?
A: There are 72 question on the OLSAT test.

Q: Where can we find examples of the OLSAT?
A: Here are some sample problems. 

Q: How long until we receive results of the GATE tests?
A: We hope to notify parents by 11/25/19, about 6 weeks after we started testing.

Q: How does the GATE program transfer to middle school, are they retested?
A: No, students are not retested in middle school. If a student is identified as GATE, the identification follows them into middle school. 

Q: Will I be notified that my son/daughter is being tested? 
A: Yes, all parents will receive a "permission to test" letter before testing begins. 

Q: Can a child qualify for honors classes and AP with being in GATE?
A: Yes, students can qualify for honors classes in middle school by being identified as GATE or through high achievement.

Q: How was the invitation sent? If a kid scores, "Exceeded in Math" or "Exceeded in ELA", will there be an invite? Or is it per teacher discretion?
A: Sites should have invited all students who scored "Exceeded Standard" in Math or ELA to be tested. Teachers could also give input on additional students to test. Parents could also request that their child be tested. 

Q: Is there a reason why this program only began to identify kids at 3rd Grade, why not 1st Grade?
A: LESD uses the 3rd Grade SBAC score to determine if a student will be tested. Students who score at the Standard Exceeded level in either math or English language arts will be tested when they enter the 4th Grade. At this time, we do not have the funding to test all students. We use SBAC as a screening tool.

Q: Can the English language affect my child?
A: We are assuming this question refers to OLSAT testing. The test contains verbal and non-verbal questions. Lack of English proficiency may make the verbal portion of the tests more difficult. However, a student without English proficiency should be able to do well on the non-verbal portion of the test.


Questions around funding:

Q: Money for English Learners, homeless students come earmarked for that; so what is the plan to budget for GATE?  This is not a new need.
A: LESD has budgeted $8000 for GATE programs for the 2019-2020 school year.

Q: At the June Board meeting it said $8,000 is budgeted to GATE.  Have we gotten more money?
A: No, we have the same amount allocated for GATE in our LCFF funds. We are using some additional Title II funds for teacher professional learning.


Questions around parent support:

Q: What do parents learn by going to the CAG conference?
A: Parents and families will have access to sessions on the intellectual, academic, social, and emotional needs of their gifted children. CAG sessions will be available in English and Spanish. 

Q: Please consider creating a District GATE Advisory Committee. Use the parents that attend California Association for the Gifted (CAG).
A: At this time there is no plan to begin a separate committee at this time.  Parents can voice their concerns through current committees such as District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC).


Questions around teacher training and support:

Q: Currently, how many teachers are GATE trained at Mark Twain?
A: There are currently no GATE trained teachers at Twain. However, one teacher has worked with gifted students for a number of years and has valuable experience differentiating for students.

Q: What is the plan for supporting teachers (with training, materials, and time) so they can support GATE students?
A: LESD goal is to have at least one GATE certified teacher at each school.  The certification will be earned through the University of California, San Diego Extension online program. The first set of teachers who are trained will train and support other teachers at the sites. Teachers are free to attend other conferences or trainings that will enhance their knowledge and skills. 

Q: How many GATE teachers do you have now?
A. Four teachers are GATE certified. Four more will be taking classes starting this year.

Q: When is teacher training happening?
A: Beginning in the next few months (online classes with the University of California,  San Diego Extension.


Questions around GATE program for students: 

Q: Do all school sites have GATE program?
A: Yes, the programs vary in size and scope due to the number of GATE students at the site.

Q:  Advanced classes starting what grade, 6th or 7th?
A: Rogers offers Honors ELA and Math in all grade levels. Addams Honors classes are offered in 7th and 8th grade. Compacted Math in the 7th grade is an accelerated class that enables a student to take Algebra in the 8th grade

Q: Middle school advanced classes only Math?
A: Both middle schools offer Honors classes in Language Arts. Rogers also offers Honors Science and History classes.

Q: How long has Lawndale had a GATE program?  How new is this?
A: Lawndale Elementary School District has always provided enrichment for GATE students.  It has varied from site to site.  We are in the process of establishing a more coherent and consistent program.

Q: If 5-8 year olds (K-3) are showing signs of “giftedness” how will teachers address this before district testing?
A: Teachers will work with gifted advocates, principals, and district staff to select different types of GATE enrichment activities to be given to students.

Q: What programs are offered for GATE?
A: In class differentiation is the focus of services for GATE students. There are several programs/activities offered for GATE students throughout the district.  It varies by school site.   Some take place during the school day and others after school.  Here are some examples of programs: after-school coding club, project-based learning, Discovery Cube, EO-Enrichment Science, robotics, plays, court trials, Digital Breakout EDU, and district-wide art workshop at the end of the year.

Q: What does being part of the GATE programs look like for 4th graders?  STEM?  Language Arts?
A: In class differentiation is the focus of services for GATE students. There are several programs/activities offered for GATE students throughout the district.  It varies by school site.   Some take place during the school day and others after school.  Here are some examples of programs: after-school coding club, project-based learning, Discovery Cube, EO-Enrichment Science, robotics, plays, court trials, Digital Breakout EDU, and district-wide art workshop at the end of the year.

Q: What does increased support look like specifically?  Teacher support?  Separate classes?  Cluster groups in classes?
A: Increased support is preparing more teachers through GATE teacher certification classes that are online through UCSD.  These teachers will train other teachers on differentiation and enrichment for students in the classroom.  GATE students can be clustered into groups within the mainstream classroom to participate in various activities that will produce critical thinking and offer depth and complexity of content.  Coding, challenging math problems, and real world problem/solutions are a few of the activities to be provided for GATE students.

Q: If my child passes the test, what will change in the school?
A: Depending on the school site of attendance, your child will receive enrichment activities within the classroom and/or after-school.  It will be a good idea to ask the teacher what type of enrichment will the student receive.  As stated above there are various programs and activities that exist throughout the district.

Q: What are short-term solutions (goals) for identified students?  What year do you see the long-term goals mentioned in place at all schools?
A: The short-term goals are to be able to offer GATE activities and  enrichment to students on a monthly basis. Long-term goals should be in place by the 2021-22 school year.  

Q: If they score lower than 8-9 when do they re-test them with Slosson verbal ability test?
A: The students have completed testing on the OLSAT.  The re-test will take place in between now and mid-December.

Q: On 2/21/19 GATE meeting, no 3rd grade had been tested and Mr. Collier promised testing and services starting by October, where are we?
A: We did not test 3rd grade students until we received their SBAC scores.  These students are currently being tested as 4th graders in the month of October and November. As of November 8th, the first round of testing has been completed.  Enrichment activities for students will begin mid-November. Schools have already begun differentiating instruction and providing activities for GATE students.

Q: What resources do we have for children who are not gifted but are not challenged?
A: The curricula we have chosen for both math and English Language Arts is widely considered rigorous for students. If a student is not challenged a parent can request a parent conference or reach out to the teacher to discuss strategies to improve instruction for the student.

Q: Now that the kids are being tested in 4th grade, what is the district going to do to accommodate the kids that pass the gifted test.  Because in the past gifted kids were placed with gifted teachers?
A: In class differentiation is the focus of services for GATE students. There are several programs/activities offered for GATE students throughout the district. It varies by school site.  Some take place during the school day and others after school. Here are some examples of programs: after-school coding club, project-based learning, Discovery Cube, EO-Enrichment Science, robotics, plays, court trials, Digital Breakout EDU, and district-wide art workshop at the end of the year.

Q: After OLSAT testing what happens next and what is the timeline?
A: Depending on the school site of attendance, your child will receive enrichment activities within the classroom and/or after-school. It will be a good idea to ask the teacher what type of enrichment will the student receive. As stated above there are various programs and activities that exist throughout the district. This should take place by mid-November.

Q: Site leaders tell me to address GATE questions at the district level, District say to address at site?
A: The California Department of Education gives no guidance on establishing GATE programs.  The trend is not to separate GATE students and place them in a special class.  In LESD we are developing a comprehensive and coherent GATE plan in which the district and school sites are aligned.

Q: If my child qualifies as gifted, what will be the process, and what are the benefits for him?
A: The student will be identified as GATE and begin to receive GATE enrichment activities during the school day and possibly after school.  As they matriculate through middle and high school they will be offered honors and advanced placement classes.

Q: What is the actual plan for increasing GATE opportunities?  Timeline for that?
A: We will increase the number of teachers who will be GATE certified.  Those teachers will train and assist other teachers on how to meet the needs of the GATE students.  We will increase the frequency of enrichment activities for GATE students from monthly to eventually weekly activities.  In the short-term we are implementing activities like Digital Breakout EDU, Big Ideas Math, and Problem of the Month.  We are open to parent input as we develop the GATE program.  The timeline is 3 years to develop the complete program.  However, various activities will begin prior to winter break.

Q: The GATE program is after school or during school hours?
A: The program is during the school hours. At some sites there are activities after school. Please connect with your child's teacher to gather more information.

Q: What percent of students that take OLSAT-8 pass test?  Slosson verbal ability test?
A: Approximately 6-7% of the students take and pass either test.

Q: If a student qualifies, will he/she be clustered with other GATE students in the same classroom  will he/she be relocated?
A: This will vary by school site. It is very unlikely that classes are changed at this time of the school year. However, GATE status will be considered when forming classes for the 2020-21 school year.

Q: Middle school - Honors classes are for both high achievers and GATE, what, in middle school, is the plan and timeline for GATE?
A: Middle schools will continue to offer honors classes for both GATE and high achiever students.  The honors classes provide critical thinking and an accelerated pace to meet the needs of GATE students.

Q: What advantages are there for kids who get in the GATE program?  Why is it good for them?
A: The student will be identified as GATE and begin to receive GATE enrichment activities during the school day and possibly after school.  As they matriculate through middle and high school they will be offered honors and advanced placement classes.  Similar to other student groups, the differentiated instruction, activities, and classes will be implemented to meet the needs of GATE students and challenge them.  Similar to other student groups, the differentiated instruction, activities, and classes will be implemented to meet the needs of GATE students and challenge them.

Q: Are the GATE kids at risk for being ostracized?
A: Schools have not reported any issues with GATE students being ostracized socially.  The majority of the school day they are integrated within the main population of students. 

Q: Which schools have a GATE teacher/dedicated class?  When does it start?
A: At the elementary school level, LESD uses a cluster model, in which GATE students are clustered in general education classes. No schools have a dedicated class. 

Q: Can we change districts if LESD in not meeting our children’s needs?
A:  A parent can request an inter-district permit if they find a specific program in another district that is not offered in LESD.  There is a process to determine if the request will be granted.

Q: What is the time frame to achieve GATE goals?
A: There are both short-term, which is immediate, and long-term goals, six months to a year for the GATE  program.  The short-term is to provide more activities for GATE students.  The long-term is to have one teacher per site certified in GATE strategies to increase activities and services at the school sites.