Gifted and Talent Education Student Ranking Process at DJUSD‏

by Parent X

Apparently California State University, Sacramento did a study on DJUSD’s Gate Identification Procedure back in 2005

Among the findings:

“…A significant challenge Davis faces is related to the ranking of students who meet identification criteria but are put on waiting lists because of space limitations. This challenge is exacerbated by a lack of clarity in what determines a child’s rank. OLSAT scores, for example, determine some children’s ranking, but when rescreening occurs and alternate test scores replace sub-test scores, this presumably changes the rank. Further, some students are tested privately which has raised questions of inequity with some parents, and expectations of assured program placement by others

It’s now 2010, five years since the report. Apparently the “waiting list” is still a problem since a few parents I talked to are agonized over their child’s waiting list status. Also this “Placement Procedure” from DJUSD

Stated in confusing language is this: “If your child is not placed at his/her closest school he/she will not be considered for placement unless you have indicated a second choice. However, if you do select a second site, your child will not be moved to accommodate someone else who indicated only a first choice.”

This document is not included in the “letter of intent” given to parents whose kids are “GATE Qualified” (at least it was not given to parents whose kids re-tested privately), but are still waiting to be placed. It’s up to the parents to find out themselves from DJUSD’s website, or GATE office, but not everyone is so keen to ask questions or know how to look for more info.

Disclaimer : My child is GATE qualified and already placed in his home school, but I was shocked to discover that an alarming number of his friends who were GATE qualified in the same school were placed in the dreadful “waiting list” (is there a huge difference between a score of 97 and 98? Apparently 97 is the cut off, to be able to remain in the home school we’re talking about). I am agonized by the whole process not only for me, but for fellow parents who are not informed. I have to dig into DJUSD’s website, and do google searches to find the relevant documents.

Note to parents with children in 2rd grade and under: If you’re concerned about the GATE process at all, Don’t be afraid to ASK fellow parents who’ve been there. There is nothing to be embarrassed about to get the right info for your child.

My experience: no one talks about it because of the sensitive matter of “smartness indication of one’s child”. But when you do make the initiative to talk to some parents, boy do we have lots to talk about! But if you’re not an informed parent of these processes/systems by asking questions how could you make the right decision for your child?

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Hmmmm...

    A few thoughts. The DJUSD’s GATE program was designed to target a particular group of students who’s needs were not being met in a regular classroom, not simply academic or high acheiving students. In my opinion, a good test of whether or not your child belongs in the GATE classroom is whether or not you would be willing to drive/bike/walk across town to have your child get the different kind of instruction and in-class social environment (tolerance of nerds who are not known for their social skills at 9 yrs old). If you are only willing to send your child to the neighborhood school, your child is scholastically fine where ever s/he is placed. If you are willing to make the sacrafices to give you child a different opportunity–when it’s your child, you’ll know–and you’re on the waiting list, then pay for private testing (which has a tighter standard deviation than OLSAT), and improve your child’s ranking. If you can’t afford private testing, talk to the district and your child’s teacher.

    In my opinion, what is not okay about our system, is that many children do not understand why they’ve been segregated into a different classrooms, particularly when one has the moniker “gifted and talented.” Also, after performing this storting, some of the elementary schools do not integrate the students when they can, adding to the in/out of the club feel. If this is the case at your school, it is totally appropriate for you to challange the school climate. Do ALL the fourth/fifth/sixth grade teachers at your school team teach whenever they can? Can the high acheiving student from the regular program have access to the GATE teacher when its appropriate? Vice-versa? Are the children being coached on tolerance of all kinds of people, including nerds? learning styles? how we try to accomadate differences when we can, but people (students) still have to adapt?

    Waiting list status shouldn’t be agonizing. It can reassure you that your child is in the right place.

  2. E Roberts Musser

    “I am agonized by the whole process not only for me, but for fellow parents who are not informed. I have to dig into DJUSD’s website, and do google searches to find the relevant documents.”

    Perhaps you are too worried about getting your child into the GATE program. I foolishly allowed an overcompetitive mother talk me into having my youngest child tested for GATE, against my better judgment. To make a long story short, her daughter got into GATE, mine didn’t – and my daughter felt somehow she had failed. I knew the entire episode had been a huge mistake. I should have stuck to my gut instincts and not had my daughter tested. The overcompetitive atmosphere in a community can be stifling to children and parents alike. (Overcompetitiveness can start over stupid things like potty training, where mothers brag that their child learned to be potty trained by the time they were 18 months old.) All three of my children graduated from UCD, one in Physiology, one in Math, one in Genetics. And not a single one of them went throught the GATE program.

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