An increasing number of school districts have implemented Gifted & Talented Education (GATE) programs to provide a more intensive education experience to meet the learning needs of gifted students. Typically, students are identified as candidates for GATE programs through a referral from their teachers followed by an application process that includes cognitive testing.
Because there is not a uniform GATE program for all schools, GATE programs vary. The following models are commonly used in GATE programs in some variation:
- Advisory Model – this model is primarily used in high schools and consists of a GATE coordinator who works with high school counselors, administrators, and teachers to assist GATE students with class selections, dual-enrollments, as well as college and career planning
- Collaborative Model – GATE instructors work with classroom teachers to develop and implement lessons that align with the classroom curriculum, but also challenge GATE students; the GATE instructor will also work with GATE students to set goals centered around academic growth
- Gifted Education Model of Support (GEMS) Model – GATE students are instructed by a GATE-endorsed teacher in core content areas of their zoned schools; the curriculum in the GEMS model is designed to be more challenging than that of standard curriculum at the respective school
- Magnet Schools – Though not classified as a GATE program, magnet schools provide students with an area of focus (business, performing arts, STEM, etc.) to build a career-based learning environment
Disadvantages of Traditional GATE Models
While GATE programs provide alternatives for many gifted students, they often don’t provide enough of a challenge for them. Often, only a portion of the curriculum is designed for gifted students. Instead of taking the holistic approach of creating constant rigorous coursework, many GATE programs pick certain sections or subjects of the core curriculum to make more challenging. This leaves many gifted students bored or uninterested in the classroom. GATE also can set up a barrier for twice-exceptional (2e) students to be selected for their programs. Because of the referral process GATE programs employ, many 2e students are not selected due to their behaviors related to a learning disability or their neurodiversity. GATE programs can also lack the resources necessary to provide ample emotional and educational support for 2e students.
The Davidson Academy, a Groundbreaking Alternative
The Davidson Academy is the only free public school of its kind for profoundly gifted students. Because profoundly gifted students are grouped homogenously at the Davidson Academy, all classes are taught at advanced levels by teachers who have experience working with profoundly gifted youth. Students are placed into classes based on their ability and are not restricted by their age, allowing students to engage with like-minded cohorts. The academy’s holistic approach creates consistent academic rigor removing the boundaries many magnet schools and GATE programs cannot manage.
One unique aspect of the Davidson Academy is for students to create a Prospective Learning Plan (PLP) with the help of parents and the academy’s Student Services Team. The PLP is an adaptable document that guides students through the challenging core curriculum offered. The personalization of PLPs provides a variety of options for students based on their interests, ability, and motivation so they are not siloed into one area of study. PLPs emphasize one’s own investment into their schooling and are revisited once a year to ensure students are still on the plan they set or would like to make iterations to their path. The PLP enables a specialized education for all profoundly gifted students including those who are 2e.
Profoundly gifted students feel supported at the Davidson Academy. With a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1, students have plenty of opportunities for one-on-one assistance from instructors. And beyond the classroom, the Davidson Academy has many student-run clubs and after-school activities for profoundly gifted students to engage with like-minded students and feel supported.
Every student should have the opportunity to learn and face no limits on what they can achieve. Learn how to apply to the Davidson Academy and explore what separates it from other schools.