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.
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.