SANTA CRUZ CITY SCHOOLS GATE PLAN APPLICATION ELEMENTARY DISTRICT

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1 SANTA CRUZ CITY SCHOOLS GATE PLAN APPLICATION ELEMENTARY DISTRICT Beginning in 2003, Santa Cruz City Schools underwent an enormous reorganization. Our first restructuring occurred when the two junior high schools became middle schools. Then, following nearly two years of difficult decision-making, the district was forced to close two elementary schools. In addition, we have consolidated all four of our alternative education programs onto one campus and relocated our district office. The conversion of our two districts into the current configuration of four elementary schools, two middle schools, three high schools and a small schools campus has demanded the attention and energies of site and district administrators, as well as parents and teachers. In the first two years since our reorganizations, we have laid the foundation for a quality GATE program. The District has convened a GATE Advisory Committee that reflects our newly formed school communities. The following plan is an outline of our GATE Program s current services and future direction. The Santa Cruz City Schools Mission Statement says (in part): Santa Cruz City Schools, part of a dynamic and diverse coastal community, will ensure that each student acquires the necessary knowledge, skills and values to achieve his or her highest aspirations and to be a contributing member of a rapidly changing society. Strategic Objective #1 and #2: To succeed at each level of schooling, all students will meet or exceed explicit performance standards identified with the core discipline. All students will set and achieve challenging learning goals at each grade level. Strategies #1 and #2: We will design, communicate, and implement performance standards within core disciplines, assess student progress, and provide support to ensure continued success for all students district-wide. We will design, implement and assess a system by which students set, monitor and achieve individual learning goals consistent with our mission and objectives.

2 PROGRAM DESIGN 1.1 The plan for the district program has a written statement of philosophy, goals, and standards appropriate to the needs and abilities of gifted learners. 1.1a The Santa Cruz City Schools GATE program has five basic purposes: 1. To provide opportunities for identified students to enhance their skills in the specific area of their giftedness. 2. To provide GATE students with opportunities for differentiated learning 3. To provide an opportunity for students to interact with other GATE students. 4. To provide GATE students an alternative learning environment 5. To ensure that English Language Learners and other students with special needs are appropriately identified through the use of alternative assessments. The plan will focus on serving gifted students who are intellectually able to achieve at or above the content standards set by the state. The identification process is outlined in the district GATE plan and is available on the website and in communication with parents. GATE resources for staff and parents shall be included in each library, on the district website, and through the Parent Resource Guide. A school psychologist and the district coordinator will also provide information to staff on the emotional and social needs of gifted students. The plan includes identification by means of standardized test scores, a non-verbal ability test and portfolios or auditions supported by teacher recommendation and principal approval. Program options at the sites and during summer have included opportunities in visual and performing arts and creative ability as well as a variety of academic areas. Copies of the plan will be available at individual school sites as well as at the district office and on the district website. 1.1b The school board will approve the plan. Logistical problems are addressed and do not limit participation in the program. 1.1c The plan aligns with the available resources of the school, staff, parents and community. The district GATE committee with representation from all sites meets regularly to develop, enhance and assess the program. 1.1d The District has convened a GATE advisory committee. The members of the committee represent the elementary level in our district and include parents, teachers and administrators as well as representatives from the district office. The program coordinates with the secondary schools in the district to provide continuous GATE services to our students. The GATE Committee prioritizes the needs of the program to ensure that the

3 available resources are spent on the most critical aspects of the program. This committee meets periodically throughout the school year.

4 1.2 The program provides administrative groupings and structure appropriate for gifted education and available to all gifted learners. 1.2a Sites will cluster GATE students in order to provide appropriate instruction with a viable group (5-8) of students. Staff at each school site will receive training in how to form equitable classes that provide for optimum learning, not just for GATE students, but also for all students at a site. These clusters will provide important peer interaction among GATE students. The district offers several alternative-learning environments that might be attractive to families of gifted students. These include: Dual Immersion (currently K-4 and expanding), an open-alternative elementary school, bilingual programs and Alternative Family Education with multi-graded classrooms and a developmental approach that allows students to progress at their own level and rate. In addition, individual sites offer a variety of after-school enrichment opportunities for GATE students that have included classes such as digital media, ceramics, architecture and design and writing. 1.2b Staff will include GATE needs and concerns in school curricula. As students are preassessed, GATE students will also be appropriately identified at their instructional level. Staff will therefore be able to begin extended lesson activities and continue them throughout the year. Structures include part-time grouping, cluster grouping and the alternative-learning environments noted in 1.2a. The GATE committee shares information between school sites in order to create a cohesive program for GATE students. 1.2c Teachers recognize gifted or advanced students and work with them to insure academic progress. Improving articulation between elementary and middle schools with targeted communication between teachers, administrators and parents is a program goal. 1.2d,e Children in all grades are served, even though they are not formally identified, through individualized instruction, cluster grouping by ability and participation in the special programs noted in 1.2a. 1.3 The program is articulated with the general education programs. 1.3a The program s design provides continuity within the school day and within the general education program at the individual sites. Staff and GATE committee members work with school sites to encourage alignment and articulation between grade levels and across subjects. Communication and alignment is a focus area for continued improvement. 1.3b A district coordinator is responsible for all aspects of the program, communicating with administrators, site coordinators and parents.

5 1.3c The program involves the home and community. Members of the community work on projects with GATE students, and several parent education nights and family science nights involve parents and the community.

6 IDENTIFICATION 2.1 The nomination/referral process is ongoing and includes students K a Anyone is eligible for the nomination process, regardless of socioeconomic, linguistic, or cultural background, and/or disabilities. Training in the identification process will continue and will offer information that is appropriate for administrators, teachers and staff. A school psychologist will consult with the GATE Coordinator and members of the Committee on this information. 2.1b All students will be qualified for the program using multiple methods of identification. Students will be able to qualify through traditional methods, such as the CST scores, and non-traditional methods, such as the Naglieri Non-Verbal Ability Test (NNAT). The District understands the need to ensure that students who exhibit high levels of cognitive potential, but who are underachieving because of educational, cultural, linguistic, or socioeconomic factors are given equal opportunity for identification. It is our intention to identify students who score in the top 3-6%, or who demonstrate the ability to score in that range, but are subject to lower STAR or NNAT scores due to one or more factors. The use of multiple methods of identification also allows for students who are gifted in the arts to have an opportunity to qualify. The District will maintain data on nominees to use in future assessments. 2.1c Identification may also come from Student Study Team, Language Review Team, IEPs and/or teacher referral. The District will search for referrals in underrepresented populations. 2.1d Students may be nominated more than once. CST scores are reviewed annually beginning in 3 rd grade. 2.1e All school sites will receive training in the district process for identifying students for the GATE program from the District Administrator. Staff training in this area will be ongoing. 2.2 An assessment/identification process is in place to ensure that all potentially gifted students are appropriately assessed for identification as gifted students. 2.2a The GATE Advisory Committee has set and approved standards for eligibility in the program. When questions arise, final determinations will be made in consultation with the site administrator, teacher, and District GATE coordinator. The District is using a nonverbal assessment for identification in order to better identify segments of our populations, such as English Language learners, or students with non-linguistic areas of giftedness. 2.2b The District Coordinator, GATE Advisory Committee, and district office revise as needed the identification standards to align with new information and data. Multiple sources are used to determine eligibility, and data is available for each nominee.

7 The objective identification process that will be used for each category is listed below (see Table 1): Intellectual Ability: All students in grade 3 are tested using the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) Students must score 96% or higher to qualify Students scoring 90-95% on the NNAT may qualify with a teacher recommendation and principal approval. Schools are encouraged to consider this option in particular with underrepresented populations. High Achievement: CST scores are reviewed for all 3-5th graders Students must score 450 or higher in math or English/Language Arts to qualify Students scoring 90-95% on NNAT may qualify with CST scores of Advanced on math and English/Language Arts. Students scoring Advanced on both sections (but not above 450) may qualify with a teacher recommendation and principal approval. Visual and Performing Arts Talent: Students, with teacher recommendations, may submit portfolio or schedule audition and receive principal approval. Table 1 If a student scores, They would: 96% or above on NNAT (9 th stanine) Qualify for GATE 450 or above scaled score on CST, 1 section Qualify for GATE 90-95% on NNAT + Advanced on 2 sections of CST Qualify for GATE 90-95% on NNAT + teacher recommendation + principal Qualify for GATE approval Advanced on both sections of the CST + portfolio + Qualify for GATE principal approval Advanced on both sections + teacher recommendation + Qualify for GATE principal approval Portfolio or Audition + teacher recommendation + Qualify for GATE principal approval

8 Special Factors Considered: Student has an active IEP or 504 plan Student receives free or reduced lunch Student is an English Learner, or has been re-designated less than one year Student has 3 or more school moves (documented grades K-2, relevant through grade 4) Student has a diagnosed medical condition that interferes with efforts toward school achievement The district has made timely changes in identification tools and procedures and will continue to assess our procedures. We have had an increase in students from all ethnic groups within our population. The GATE Advisory Committee will continue to discuss and implement procedures that will improve the diversity of our program. 2.2c Parents will be contacted regarding their student s eligibility for GATE, and information regarding the appeal process will be available. 2.2d New students will be assessed using the NNAT in 4 th grade. 2.3 Multiple service options are available with the gifted education program and between other educational programs. Placement is based on the assessed needs of the student and is periodically reviewed. 2.3a Services will be provided once parents have been informed about the program and have given permission for their student to participate. Signed parent permission will be on file at the district office. 2.3b Upon parent request, the district will provide identification information that a parent may take to a new school or district. 2.3c GATE identification remains with a student, following the student throughout the elementary and high school districts. The process for identification is based on an objective set of guidelines, approved by the GATE advisory committee and is not dependent on the perception of a single individual. Recommendations or teacher referrals will be reviewed and approved by site principals, ensuring that impartial assessment occurs.

9 CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION 3.1 A differentiated curriculum is in place, responsive to the needs, interests, and abilities of gifted students. 3.1a To achieve the above program qualities, differentiated curriculum will be implemented in all classrooms. Teachers have begun and will continue to be trained in differentiation and compacting curriculum so that gifted students learning experiences are appropriate to their needs. In addition to professional development opportunities provided by the District, the New Teacher Project also has differentiation as a focus area and provides support and mentoring to new teachers in the district. The district has also received a Cotsen Fellowship that provides mentorship and feedback to several participating teachers at each of the four elementary schools and also focuses on differentiation. 3.1b Students will be involved in selecting topics within an area of study. Students will be encouraged and guided to develop independent study skills. Students will utilize higher level thinking skills to apply solutions/suggestions to these problems. All libraries utilize information literacy standards, providing research opportunities and inquiry learning in self-selected topics of interest. Writing standards promote discussion and debate, particularly via persuasive essays and related discussion and activities. 3.1c Our GATE Program at all sites will utilize, within the regular classroom: Cluster grouping Flexible scheduling Diverse selection of areas of study High level thinking skills Abstract concepts and major themes 3.1d Emphasis among staff will be on the balanced development of self, allowing students to appreciate their abilities and to develop them in a constructive manner. Ethical and moral issues will be explored and related to problems and issues in society. Teachers will also include students in the evaluation of their projects and activities, developing a sense of self-appraisal in all students.

10 3.2 The differentiated curriculum for gifted students is supported by appropriate structures and resources. 3.2a The above strategies will offer a differentiated curriculum scheduled during the school day on a regular basis. 3.2b The differentiated curriculum is taught with appropriate instructional models, i.e. contracts, centers, and student choice within assignments. The differentiated curriculum uses a spectrum of teaching and learning patterns including group instruction (large and small), homogeneous and heterogeneous grouping, student and teacher directed learning and opportunities for inquiry-based study. All schools utilize life skills and conflict resolution programs to build service learning projects, reinforce empathy and contribute both within and outside the school community. These projects link to secondary community service requirements. 3.2c Appropriate print and non-print materials and technology are used to support the differentiated curriculum. The district coordinator provides each site with a Catalogue of Services that assists teachers in finding appropriate activities and materials for gifted students. Special subscription services (e.g. Ed1Stop) augment general Internet materials and facilitate independent studies. For all of the above strategies and plans, staff development is critical and will remain a major district focus for the school year.

11 SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT GATE students need guidance and support, as do all students. Often, resources within a district are so limited that GATE students are left to guide themselves while counseling services are provided for the more critically needy children. There is a strong staff and parent population within Santa Cruz City Schools that recognizes and supports the need for help for GATE students. Santa Cruz City Schools will develop a continuum of services to meet the social and emotional needs of gifted students. We believe that: GATE students have unique concerns regarding peer relations, self-concepts and resiliency. GATE students need to learn how to take risks and cope with failure while learning from mistakes. GATE students need to be mentored in their future education goals. GATE students must learn to utilize higher level thinking skills to analyze problems, develop solutions and make critical decisions. 4.1 Actions to meet the affective needs of gifted students are ongoing. 4.1a Psychologist and counselor support for GATE shall be gradually increased at the elementary levels by including GATE students as a viable group when counseling time is scheduled. Staffs shall receive training in recognizing giftedness and its unique challenges for GATE students, both in the classroom and on the playground. This training can be provided by district staff and experts. Information regarding the characteristics of GATE students is provided to parents and staff in the GATE Bulletin and informational meetings and conferences. The district offers parent education nights providing parents with information regarding the social and emotional needs of their gifted students. A school psychologist will advise the GATE Committee on the affective needs of these students and the Committee members will work with their sites to increase awareness of the issues related to these students. 4.1b Gifted students will be provided with guidance regarding future plans that matches their unique strengths. Gifted students will be referred to community resources when appropriate.

12 4.2 At risk gifted students are monitored and provided support (e.g. underachievement, symptoms of depression, suicide, substance abuse.) 4.2a Teachers will be given training to recognize at-risk behavior in gifted and talented students and refer them to the appropriate school personnel. 4.2b Counselors, school psychologists and administrators will make referrals for services or to outside agencies as appropriate. 4.2c Issues relating to specific GATE students can be identified and intervened with at an early stage. Additional counseling or other guidance can be arranged for particular students, providing the support they need. 4.2d All parents and staff will receive information about alternative programs and other classes available for GATE students through a GATE Bulletin distributed by the District to all GATE parents. This bulletin can also include guidance ideas and parenting help. All information will be translated into Spanish.

13 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT The Santa Cruz City Schools District GATE Program is district based, providing equitable training and resources at all sites. Professional development already identified by the district GATE Committee for the school year includes: Addressing the needs of the gifted student in the regular classroom Differentiating curriculum for gifted students Professional development related to specific academic content areas Providing opportunities for leaders to develop their unique talents Developing strategies to facilitate extended classroom lessons 5.1 The district provides professional development opportunities related to gifted learners on a regular basis. 5.1a Professional development continues to be a critical area of focus. As with many districts, we struggle with declining resources and ever-expanding staff development needs, with limited time to achieve all our goals. Awareness of the needs of the gifted child within the regular classroom must be broadened so that staff members understand the modifications that must be employed on a daily basis. Staff training in differentiated instruction can be held on SBCP Days, restructured days, at staff meetings, and at workshops. Teacher representatives from the District will attend the CAG Conference and other relevant professional development. The District has recently expanded its Professional Development department and its lead member now meets regularly with the GATE Committee. Through the New Teacher Project of Santa Cruz County, teachers meet regularly with mentors to hone their differentiation skills, curriculum and tools. Our Cotsen Foundation Mentors and Fellows are also engaged in professional development including differentiation that benefits our gifted learners. The GATE Committee will continue to hone professional development needs based on continuing evaluation of the program, latest research and student progress. Opportunities for teachers to share effective strategies with other teachers will become part of the common planning time on restructured days. Speakers and workshop opportunities to improve instruction shall be offered to all staff. Topics for training may include: Motivations for the underachiever Recognizing giftedness and understanding the unique academic and emotional needs of these students Differentiating instruction of the gifted student in the regular classroom Pre-assessing and compacting curriculum

14 Professional development related to specific academic content areas for teachers instructing honors and advanced placement classes 5.1b Surveys will be conducted after staff development to determine effectiveness and guide planning. Staff members attending conferences are asked to report on and evaluate the effectiveness of their training and possible implementation. Professional development for teachers working with gifted students in integrated classrooms is a continuing priority. 5.1c The District s professional development team seeks out experts in the fields of gifted students, brain research and differentiated instruction. Resources for experts include CAG, Stanford University, the New Teacher Project of Santa Cruz County, and Cotsen Foundation Mentors and Fellows as well as local experts and coaches. 5.2 District personnel with direct decision-making and/or instructional responsibilities for gifted students are provide with role specific training. 5.2a Teachers, counselors and administrators are ensured opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in teaching gifted students. They are provided ongoing professional development. Lead Teachers who attend conferences will share information and research with other teachers at their site. 5.2b The District has a coordinator in place with knowledge of gifted education who will continue with professional development. 5.2c Administrators, counselors, and support staff will participate in professional development related to their responsibilities in the GATE program. They also have access to the GATE Newsletter, parent education nights, and any appropriate information related to gifted students. 5.2d Administrators, counselors and support staff are provided the appropriate professional development as related to gifted students. The district matches professional development needs with personnel both inside and outside the district with expertise in meeting the needs of gifted students

15 PARENT AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Santa Cruz City Schools has a strong and vocal GATE community of parents, staff and interested citizens. We are also part of a community that provides many extracurricular opportunities for GATE students to extend their classroom learning experiences. 6.1 Open communication with parents and the community is maintained. 6.1a Santa Cruz City Schools recognizes the critical role that parents play in supporting the GATE Program and its students. We encourage their participation in the parent meetings, both at site and district level. In addition, our parents bring an incredible wealth of abilities and interests that they are willing to share with GATE students. We encourage their participation in the classroom as GATE guest lecturers. Parents are informed of their children s eligibility for the GATE program and are surveyed after participation as a part of the district evaluation of the GATE program. Parents are contacted regarding upcoming events and opportunities for GATE students. The biannual GATE Bulletin will provide parents of identified students with information and updates regarding GATE services. Information and the Bulletin will be translated into Spanish. A guide to resources for parents has been created and is available at school sites, parent education nights, and on the district website. 6.1b The District s GATE plan will be available to parents and the community at the District office and on the website and as links on individual site web pages. Parents and community members have supported GATE programs at individual schools sites, participating in core and enrichment activities. 6.1c At the site level, the GATE Committee is encouraged to have one representative attend SSC meetings to inform SSC about GATE issues and plans. Parents are members of the district GATE Committee. The District is working to increase its partnerships with organizations in the community such as the Santa Cruz Educational Foundation to support GATE students.

16 6.2 An active GATE advisory committee with parent involvement is supported by the district. 6.2a At the district level, the GATE Advisory Committee is composed of members of the school communities: parents, teachers, from each school and administrators from each school level. This year, the GATE Advisory Committee was actively involved in the development of the GATE application, written plan and budget. The GATE Advisory Committee will continue to monitor implementation of the plan. The Committee will meet at least 4 times a year. A parent member of the district GATE committee cosigns the state application. Parents are closely involved with evaluating, updating and disseminating the state application and district plan. Parents are members of each Site Council, which oversee the application of GATE funds at individual sites. More parents of special needs students will be sought out to participate in site and district GATE planning; flexibility to meet their needs may be offered. 6.2b Parent education is an important component of our plan. Parents are encouraged to attend informational evenings and appropriate conferences such as CAG related to the needs of their gifted children. District funds helped send parents to CAG. The District has provided a Parent Resource Guide to support parents in finding information about gifted students and supporting them academically and socially. As above, parents are an active and integral part of the district and site GATE committees. Everything sent to parents is translated into Spanish. Translators are provided at presentations. 6.2c Efforts are made to insure that representation of GATE parents on the GATE advisory committee reflect the demographics of the student population. Parents are encouraged to attend information nights and conferences. Current research, timely news articles and additional resources are made available to parents in our news bulletin and website. 6.2d The GATE Coordinator collaborates with the Advisory Committee to offer professional development opportunities, including speakers, coaching and appropriate conferences to staff and parents related to gifted education. The GATE Coordinator will meet with the District English Language Advisory Committee as well as individual Site Councils and GATE Committees to share information related to GATE services and to answer parent or community questions. 6.2e The Coordinator and the Committee are soliciting financial support, professional resources and volunteers from our community and local colleges and universities to work with gifted students.

17 PROGRAM ASSESSMENT 7.1 The district provides ongoing student and GATE program assessment that is consistent with the program s philosophy, goals and standards. 7.1a, bthe District GATE Advisory Committee will oversee the evaluation of the GATE program. Students, parents, GATE teachers and principals will be surveyed at least annually to determine the effectiveness of the GATE services provided. The GATE Advisory Committee is responsible for monitoring, evaluating and modifying their program at least annually. This is accomplished periodically through: Observations of GATE students in class Surveys to parents, teachers and students Examination of student academic performance as measured by tests and grades Any modifications to the program will be incorporated into the GATE plan for the subsequent school year. Site principals and members of the GATE committee will be interviewed to identify program needs at each school. This process continues each spring. Parents and students complete a survey to determine if program needs have been achieved. Each spring, the GATE plan is reviewed and revised as necessary, after all assessment data has been analyzed. In the fall, evaluations from summer school classes are reviewed. The GATE Newsletter is used to disseminate assessment questionnaires and to invite feedback from GATE parents and participants. and web surveys may also be employed to evaluate programs. The district has clear standards of performance for all students; assessments in addition to the CST include school-wide writing and reading comprehension evaluations. 7.1c Student grades, activities, portfolios and projects will also be a part of individual student assessment. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the evaluation of their work. Criteria for performance-based measures and rubrics are uniform throughout the district and are available to all community members. Other: Approximately 100 GATE elementary students attended annual Family Science Nights. Surveys will be distributed at the end of the course and included in future district GATE plans. The district is offering summer school classes. Evaluations are distributed at the end of the course and the results are included in future district GATE plans. The District is also collecting data on students attending summer classes to assess its success in serving under-represented populations in the program.

18 Parents are surveyed at parent education nights and with the annual newsletter. Information collected from these surveys has contributed to changes in parent education, summer school, communication and other aspects of our GATE program. 7.1d Program assessment will align with instruction to monitor student progress and capability. Students will participate through collaborative evaluation, inquiry and reflection. 7.1e The GATE coordinator and committee members present a program overview annually to the Board of Education. Program assessments will be made available to all stakeholders. 7.1f Program assessment is part of the district GATE committee s function and budget.

19 BUDGET 8.1 The district GATE budget is directly related to the GATE program objectives with appropriate allocations. 8.1a The District s GATE budget focuses the state resources on: Professional development & parent education including workshops and conferences District level coordination by a part-time coordinator Testing to identify GATE students Stipends for lead teachers at each school Direct student services in the form of summer school programs Site allocations to support individual schools in providing services for their GATE students 8.1b These funds do not supplant district funds. 8.1c Money is set aside for a part-time district GATE coordinator. Lead Teachers at each site are also given stipends to implement the District GATE plan. 8.1d Carry over monies are maintained with district GATE accounts and allocated to enhance the District GATE plan. 8.1e Indirect costs do not exceed the state limitations.

20 Elementary GATE Budget State Apportionment $21,946 Carryover $2,000 Total Budget $23,946 Teachers' Salaries Summer School $2,500 Cert. Supervisor & Admin $2,035 Teacher Stipends Certificated Benefits $285 Classified Salaries Translation Services $300 Childcare Services $300 Classified Benefits 23.86% $145 Books Other than Textbooks Materials & Supplies Testing Materials $500 Summer School Materials $500 Allocations to sites $12,000 Office and Other Supplies Professional Development, Travel & Conferences CAG Conference $750 Consultant Service Agreements GATE Coordinator $3,000 Professional Development/Parent Education $973 Indirect Costs $658 TOTAL EXPENDITURES $23,946

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