A Parent’s Guide to Gifted And Talented Education Services
What is GATES?
GATES stands for Gifted And Talented Education Services program in RSU 21. GATES is a comprehensive K-12 program of formal and informal services provided to effectively nurture the learning needs of those highly able children who differ markedly in their cognitive and affective functions. GATES complies with the state mandated requirements for gifted programs.
What is the mission of the RSU 21 GATES Program?
The mission of the GATES program is to identify and meet the academic and emotional needs of gifted children. The GATES staff designs and provides opportunities that address both academic and social-emotional needs through acceleration, enrichment and guidance.
How are children identified as being “gifted” in RSU 21?
Through the primary years the GATES staff gathers formal and informal data through teacher referrals and student achievement in reading and math. Beginning in grade three, screening of all students takes place using objective data from the Northwest Educational Assessment (NWEA), which measures achievement in Reading and Math), and the Otis Lennon School Abilities Test (OLSAT), which measures cognitive reasoning. This is in addition to subjective data gathered through teacher nomination, parental input, and continued observation by the professional GATES staff. The district Child Study Team is convened annually to review all data collected and to identify students entering fourth, sixth and ninth grades. The GATES staff considers referrals of students who are new to the district or for whom we have new information. Parents may contact GATES staff at any time to discuss or to appeal the decision of the Child Study Team with regard to their child. Parental permission is required in order for students to receive formal GATES services.
What academic services are available through the GATES Program?
The GATES Program at the Primary Level emphasizes services that support classroom teachers in modifying the regular curriculum in order to challenge and to differentiate instruction for more developmentally and academically advanced children. The GATES teacher provides classroom teachers with consulting services, resources and materials, and classroom-based, purposeful activities. In addition, small group experiences for children whose academic needs clearly warrant such interventions may be provided.
At the Intermediate Level, GATES focuses on the needs of formally identified students. Consultation and classroom support continue, while individual student needs are accommodated through a menu of options. These may include cluster groups in academic areas, programs for accelerated students in literature and math, independent studies, creative problem solving, and social and emotional groups that provide students with support and guidance.
Students at the Middle School Level have an array of educational opportunities that are available in the curriculum, taught by specialized content teachers and the GATES staff, in academic and artistic areas. Students are recommended for advanced classes based on specific criteria consisting of teacher recommendations, classroom performance, and available testing information. The GATES staff provides informal monitoring and advising through regular contact with students and continues to work with classroom teachers and teams.
High School students have opportunities for advanced classes as detailed in the Kennebunk High School Program of Studies such as Honors and Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. The GATES staff coordinates academic mentorships and works with students in directed studies. Guidance in course selection is also provided, as is consultation with content-area teachers.
What services are available to artistically gifted children?
RSU 21 is committed to identifying children who show exceptional promise in the arts. Students gifted in the area of visual arts are identified and receive services beginning at the Intermediate Level. At the Middle and High School level students have opportunities for advanced study in the performing arts areas of drama and music as well.
Application to the Talented Artists Program (TAP) can be made through the submission of a portfolio in the spring of fourth grade, for services in grade five. TAP continues through Middle School, with application for the High School Honors art program made at the end of eighth grade. Arts apprenticeships are another opportunity for exceptionally talented artists to work with professionals in the community. The KHS Program of Studies outlines the visual and performance art options available to students at that level.
How can I learn more about giftedness and how to support my gifted child?
The GATES staff at each school has a variety of resources available to parents. The following suggested readings and websites may also be helpful.
- National Association for Gifted Children: www.nagc.org
- Hoagie’s Gifted Page: www.hoagiesgifted.org
- National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented
Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers by Webb, Meckstroth, Tolan.
The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids: How to Understand, Live With, and Stick Up for Your Gifted Kid by Sally Yahnke