Frequently Asked Questions


    How can a child be referred to the GATE Program?

    • Covina-Valley Unified School District screens all third-grade students on a test of cognitive reasoning ability (unless the parent requests the child be excluded from the test). In addition, parents and/or teachers may refer students in any grade level for possible GATE identification. The person making the referral can contact the school's principal or the Director of Curriculum and Instruction complete a Gifted Program Nomination Form.
    • A teacher, parent, or a school official may refer a child.

    When does the district test for the GATE program?

    Testing occurs in the spring to ensure that gifted students are identified and clustered for the following year.

    Can my student be retested if he/she doesn’t qualify?

    Yes! A student may be retested each year if the Nomination Form is completed and sent to the district.

    What is the advantage of being labeled gifted?

    Students who are identified as gifted are clustered with other GATE students at the elementary and middle school levels. In these classes, teachers not only enrich or extend learning, but they also recognize and address the unique abilities and social-emotional needs of the gifted student through differentiated instruction. At the high school level, gifted students are able to enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) Courses and can earn college credit in high school depending upon their scores on the AP exams in the spring. Gifted students are encouraged to participate in honors classes, organizations, and activities at the high school level.

    How do I know if my child is gifted?

    Though there are many characteristics of gifted students, Dr. Diane Heacox has listed the most common qualities in her book, Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom:

    • High levels of retention with an extraordinary amount of information
    • An accelerated pace of learning
    • Advanced comprehension, deep understanding
    • Usually varied interests and curiosity
    • An advanced vocabulary
    • Flexibility of thinking
    • An ability to generate original ideas and solutions
    • An ability to think in abstract terms and sense consequences o Evaluative, judgmental thinking
    • Persistent goal-directed behavior

    What is differentiated instruction?

    Differentiated instruction, according to Carol Ann Tomlinson (as cited by Ellis, Gable, Greg, & Rock, 2008, p. 32), is the process of “ensuring that what a student learns, how he/she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he/she has learned is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning”. Differentiation stems from beliefs about differences among learners, how they learn, learning preferences and individual interests (Anderson, 2007). "Research indicates that many of the emotional or social difficulties gifted students experience disappear when their educational climates are adapted to their level and pace of learning."[1] Differentiation in education can also include how a student shows that they have mastery of a concept.

    What are some examples of differentiated instruction?

    • Acceleration/Pacing: Students are permitted to move faster through the curricular content and are given credit for what they already know. 
    • Depth: Students are given opportunities to study aspects of the curriculum in greater depth. They become experts in fields of study that link to the core curriculum. 
    • Complexity: Students are given opportunities to make connections between content areas. Students are taught using an inter-disciplinary thematic approach in order to see the relationships between all areas of study. 
    • Novelty: Students are given opportunities to share what they know creatively. They are encouraged to present projects that reflect their interests, talents, and abilities.

    What are GATE clusters?

    • The Covina-Valley Unified School District places identified GATE students in grades 3- 6 in cluster classes with trained GATE teachers. Research from the Center on Gifted and Talented Youth at the University of Connecticut at Hartford, as well as the Johns Hopkins Center for the Gifted and Talented, support the use of clusters as a way of meeting the differentiated needs of gifted students.
    • At the middle and high school level, gifted students are offered the opportunity to enroll in honors and Advanced Placement courses in which the whole class is engaging in lessons that are accelerated or complex. Covina-Valley Unified School District offers 19 Advanced Placement courses in a variety of curricular areas.

    How can I learn more about the gifted program in the Covina-Valley Unified School District?

    • Browse our website:
    • Attend the Annual GATE Parent Meeting at your child’s school.
    • Pick up a GATE brochure located at all C-VUSD school sites.
    • Contact the site Principal or the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at 974-7000 extension 800075



    1 Neihart, Maureen ed., with Reis, Sally; Robinson, Nancy; and Moon, Sidney, (2002). The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? National Association of Gifted Children (Prufrock Press, Inc.). p. 286