Palo Alto Schools Gifted & Talented Proposed Standards

Palo Alto Unified School District Gifted & Talented Program [219K PDF]:

Palo Alto Unified school district’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) provides educational opportunities that recognize the performance capabilities of gifted students as well as addresses the unique needs and differences associated with having these abilities. The goals of Gifted and Talented Education can be defined as follows:

  • To provide students with opportunities for learning that maximize each students’ abilities.
  • To assist and encourage students to acquire skills and understanding at advanced academic and creative levels.
  • To aid students in expanding their abilities to communicate and apply their ideas effectively.
  • To engender an enthusiasm for learning.

Program Model
In elementary and middle school, the program model for GATE is differentiation within the mainstream classroom. In 2001, new legislation called for a change in GATE education. Rather than pull children from class for a different curriculum, all differentiation takes place within the context of standards-based instruction in the regular classroom. Teachers enrich and extend the core curriculum for gifted students by differentiating instruction, content, and process. Through differentiated assignments developed to meet their academic and intellectual needs, GATE students are able to explore and expand to their maximum potential. These differentiated curricular opportunities are available to all students, not just those who are formally identified. In middle school, students also have access to the Renzulli Learning System to allow them to individualize their education based on their needs, interests and creative abilities and to explore the curriculum in greater depth and complexity. Advanced math courses are available for the first time in 7th grade and continue through 12th grade. In high school, gifted students are able to take advanced, honors, and advanced placement courses in a wide variety of subjects.

Palo Alto School District Strategic Plan [780K PDF]
Madison School District’s Gifted & Talented Plan.

One thought on “Palo Alto Schools Gifted & Talented Proposed Standards”

  1. The Palo Alto schools’ Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Plan offers a unique view to those of us in Madison, WI who are soon to see the Madison Metro School District (MMSD) Talented and Gifted (TAG) plan unveiled by Superintendent Dan Nerad and staff.
    Will MMSD take up the Palo Alto challenge to be “world-class”?
    For insights to this question, we need to look at the underlying document, Palo Alto’s Strategic Plan to to see how it contrasts with MMSD’s recently completed one.
    For starters, it includes a lot of the same undefinable normative aspirations: love of learning, teaching every child, etc.
    But then Palo Alto keeps going…it wants to be world class.
    “World-class” sounds amorphous enough, but Palo Alto actually substantiates what it means by that. Hooray!
    In Palo Alto’s Strat. Plan Exec. Summary, only one document is listed that “inspired” the Plan: McKinsey’s 2007 report, “How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come Out on Top”.
    The McKinsey study is a fascinating, straight-forward read that concludes the best school systems do three things very well:
    1. Hire the right teachers;
    2. Effectively develop those teachers;
    3. And make sure the system can deliver the best possible instruction.
    The report disputes much of the world’s public education mantra of recent decades: smaller classes, curricular experiments and higher teacher pay.
    It highlights a number of recent studies showing the enormous (“enormous” isn’t hyperbole in this case) affect of better and worse teachers, whose impact is felt for years afterword.
    I’m surprised every principal, school board member and parent in America doesn’t have this report thumb-tacked to the bulletin board behind the desk. The Introduction, pretty much says it all. Check it out here:
    It’s powerful stuff.

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