Pearl Zanker Elementary School Home
GATE Program

The GATE Program is administered by the

Curriculum and Assessment Department.

For more information, call (408) 635-2600 x6004.


Program Description

Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) provides a flexible system of program options that deliver a continuum of appropriate curricular and instructional experiences to its identified gifted and Talented Education GATE) students, K-12. The GATE program is site-based. Each site develops a school plan that integrates the needs of the GATE students into its planning for the overall educational program. Based upon an analysis of the needs of identified GATE students, the number and distribution of these students by grade level, and the structure of the school day at the site, schools may provide different delivery systems.


Milpitas Unified offers a variety of program modifications that are particularly designed to meet the needs of gifted and talented students. Instructional strategies accommodate different learning styles and support collaboration and self-reflection. Differentiation of course content is achieved through added depth, complexity, novelty, or acceleration of pace. As in all classes, interdisciplinary, learning-centered curriculum featuring hands-on, collaborative learning activities and materials with real-world applications increase the power and relevance of learning for students.



The District has used the California State Standards for Gifted and talented Education to develop the goals of the MUSD GATE program. These goals are:


  • To provide differentiated opportunities for learning that match GATE students’ particular abilities and talents.


  • To offer alternative learning environments in which GATE students can acquire skills and knowledge at advanced conceptual and creative levels.


  • To help GATE students develop sensitivity and responsibility to others.


  • To help GATE students develop commitment to constructive ethical standards.


  • To assist GATE students in the development of problem-solving abilities.


  • To expand each GATE student’s awareness of choices for making contributions to his/her environment.


  • To help GATE students develop healthy, realistic self-concepts.


State Approved Delivery Models

Special Day Classes are classes of GATE students of one or more grade levels. Cluster Groupings are groups of identified GATE student within a grade level class; these clusters may flex during the day or week to meet the needs of the students involved. Enrichment programs occur before or after the regular school day.


Primary Grades K-3

There is no formal GATE program in the primary grades; however, the needs of gifted primary students are not ignored. All primary teachers are provided training in early literacy skills that focus on the learning needs of each student. Gifted students are therefore able to progress at a rate commensurate with their abilities as they develop these crucial foundational skills.


Intermediate Grades 4-6

The formal GATE program begins in grade four. Elementary school sites develop their own programs each year, based upon the needs of the students, the available resources, and the number of GATE students as stated above.


Secondary Grades 7-12

In the middle and high schools, students have many opportunities for extended learning inherent in the schedule of classes. Many teachers provide thought-provoking and complex assignments challenging the accelerated learning needs of GATE students. At the middle school level, the annual needs assessment and school planning process may result in a variety of options, accelerated classes during the school day and enrichment programs before and after-school. There are offerings in foreign language, mathematics, science, technology, and visual/performing arts.


Milpitas High School offers many Honors and Advanced Placement courses. There are opportunities to accelerate across multiple subject areas: English, mathematics, science, social studies, and visual/performing arts.


Identification Process


Milpitas Unified School District identifies students for GATE through a separate GATE test.

To qualify for GATE, a student must meet the following criterion:

  • Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) performance of 96 percentile or higher.

The NNAT is given to all third grade students, as well as to fourth through seventh graders new to MUSD. A student who did not qualify as GATE via the NNAT during the previous year may retake the test by teacher recommendation. A maximum of one retake in grades 4-7 is allowed. Parental or guardian permission is needed for testing.


Appeal Process


The parents of the students who qualify for the MUSD GATE program are notified in writing. Parents have the right to appeal the identification decision. Appeals will be reviewed by the District GATE Administrator.


Program Placement/Exit

Placement in the gifted program is based on the assessed needs of the student and is periodically reviewed. The goal of the district is to accurately and appropriately select and place students in gifted programs. If a student is not successful, site staff, administration, school resource team, and/or the District GATE Administrator seek strategies to help the student become successful. The administrator reviews requests for withdrawal with the parent and student. Multiple placements are available for students: special day classes, clustered classes, extended day classes, honors classes, on-line courses, community college courses, internships, AP classes, apprenticeships, and advanced course work. Students new to MUSD and were identified as GATE in their previous school district will be reviewed on an individual basis and placed into the most appropriate classes. Formal identification into MUSD’s GATE program will be based on MUSD criteria.


Parent Involvement


In Milpitas Unified School District, parents are essential partners in making the GATE program successful. The District believes the interests of gifted and talented students are best served when parents and educators work collaboratively. The GATE Advisory Committee is comprised of one GATE parent representative and one GATE teacher representative from each site. The committee’s responsibilities are to disseminate information about the program, provide for parent education, conduct an annual assessment of the program, report assessment findings, and make recommendations based upon the findings. The GATE Advisory Committee meets quarterly.


Open Enrollment


Milpitas Unified School District maintains an open enrollment policy. This means that parents may send their student to any school within the district, as space permits. If a parent wishes to have a student attend a different school, the parent must submit an Open Enrollment form to the Student Transfer Office at the Milpitas Unified School District Offices. Transfers are granted on a “space available” basis through a lottery system and the District does not provide transportation for open enrollment.