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Advanced Learner Ed

Advanced Learner Education Parent Resources


Overview of Program
Q What are the characteristics of an Advanced Learner student?

These students demonstrate abilities, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and achievements considerably higher than those of their chronological peers. Some of the most common traits are:

  • Quick to grasp ideas
  • Intense interest in one or more subjects
  • Evidences originality, creativity, and flexibility in thought and action
  • Shows unusual maturity in the ability to verbally express themselves; uses an extensive vocabulary
  • Understands complicated concepts and relationships
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Identification Process
Q When are students identified?
A Students may be referred for Advanced Learner identification at anytime during the school year beginning in Grade 3.
Q How are students identified?
A The District uses multiple criteria to identify Advanced Learners. Test scores, classroom performance, teacher recommendation surveys, parent surveys of student behavior, and the Raven Progressive Matrices test (for 2nd graders and referral students). Teachers are encouraged to refer students. Parents may also refer a student by contacting the District GATE Facilitator.
Q How long is GATE identification on a student’s record? Does it need to be renewed?
A A student is identified as an Advanced Learner, he/she will retain that designation throughout his/her school education in the Carlsbad Unified School District. All district non-GATE students in Grades 3 – 8 are reevaluated each year. A student may be identified in any grade from Grades 3 – Grade 8.
Q Can Students with Learning Disabilities be Identified as Advanced Learners?

Yes. "Twice-exceptional" students are difficult to identify because they possess the characteristics of gifted students and the characteristics of students with disabilities. These learning disabilities may include AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, Autism, etc. Their special needs often hide their giftedness. The District GATE Facilitator and classroom teachers work with the student's Learning Center/Special Education teachers to identify these students and incorporate enrichment/challenge-level materials into their IEPs where appropriate.

Q Can English Language Learners be Identified as Advanced Learners?
A Yes. One of the additional multiple measures used to identify English Language Learners (ELLs) is the California English Language Development Test (CELDT), given yearly to all ELL students in California. The rapid acquisition of English is one characteristic of Advanced Learners. Students who make two or more levels of growth in one year are evaluated and teachers are sent specially designed survey to check for high potential.
Q What is the Raven Progressive Matrices Test?
A Raven Progressive Matrices Test is a non-reading test of cognitive processing skills, or how a child learns and thinks. This test helps predict ability level and gifted potential (even if the student is not performing at a high level). It has 60 items with multiple choice answers and is administered in a group. The test is age-normed, and the percentile score is based on a student's age at the time of the test date, not his/her grade.


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Program Implementation

  Elementary-Differentiation in Class 
Q What will happen when my child is identified in elementary school?
A Currently, the District uses cluster groups and flexible skills groups for language arts and mathematics in Kindergarten through Grade 5. Advanced learners have received more open-ended, long-term, and complex assignments that require a balance of independent and collaborative thinking with like-peers. District teachers have received professional development in working with Advanced Learners. They implement a wide variety of strategies to meet the needs of these students, including Depth and Complexity, developed by Dr. Sandra Kaplan, USC, Rossiter School of Education. Furthermore, curriculum programs such as Achieve 3000 serve to support each child’s unique ability.
Q What happens with students in Grades K - 2 before they are officially identified?
A High functioning Kindergarten - 2nd grade students are provided learning activities to extend their learning experiences within the regular classroom setting. Teachers use the same teaching strategies that are used with students in Grades 3 - 5.
Q How are elementary students assessed and monitored as Advanced Learners?
A Parents will receive notice of an initial screening in the spring of their child’s 2nd grade year.  Results of the screening are uploaded to the Aeries Parent Portal and a notification will be made at the child’s fall parent-teacher conference of their 3rd grade year.  Students who passed the initial screening are considered to be on a “watch list.” Throughout the year, the teacher will offer activities that support the learner profile and make an official recommendation for GATE identification at the end of the year.
  Middle School-Advanced Level Classes
Q What coursework is provided for advanced students in middle school?
A At the middle school level, part-time grouping is used in English and mathematics in order to compact, extend, and exceed the core curriculum. These courses are designed to specifically address the needs of advanced learners with tiered assignments and differentiated resources that require more depth and complexity than the regular grade level curriculum.
Q What is the difference between Advanced and regular education classes?
A Advanced classes are specially designed to be advanced in content, process, and product. Traditionally, students who meet prerequisite criteria are accepted into these courses.
  High School-Advanced Level Classes
Q What coursework is provided for advanced students in high school?
A Advanced Learners at the high school are served by an exemplary honors and Advanced Placement (AP) program. Enrollment in these classes is dependent upon meeting the course prerequisites.
Q What are Advanced Placement classes?
A Advanced Placement courses are rigorous, college-level curricula where high school students can gain college credit and/or advanced college placement. The grades for these courses are weighted (A = 5 pts., B = 4 pts., etc.) See the Carlsbad High School website (under Guidance) or the Carlsbad High School Student Handbook for more information.

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Students New to CUSD/Students Transferring to Other Districts
Q What is the process when a new student was GATE identified in his/her previous district?
A There are no California Department of Education GATE identification guidelines. Each district sets up their own evaluation criteria. When GATE students enter the Carlsbad Unified School District, the GATE Facilitator evaluates the student's grades and testing information to determine if he/she qualifies under the CUSD criteria.
Q What happens when identified CUSD students move to a new school district?
A The student's cumulative file, containing the final GATE identification information (for 4th grade students and higher) will be forwarded to the student's new school. However, since cumulative files may take up to several months to arrive at the new school, parents should notify the office, classroom teacher, and/or school guidance counselor when enrolling. It would be helpful to share copies of the student's Advanced Learner identification letter, report card indicating advanced level work, and/or the "Advanced Learner Differentiated Learning Plan" with the new district. The CUSD would be happy to help share information with the new district.
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Parent Support/Resources

Q How can parents be supportive at home and at school?
A Be aware of your child's unique strengths and challenges. Read some of the books in your site's GATE Parent Library and/or go online (ex: Hoagies' Education Page) to find out more about the needs of Advanced Learners. Be supportive of your child's interests. Keep an open line of communication with your child's teacher(s).
Q What can parents do if they feel a student is not being challenged?
A First, contact the student's teacher to share your concerns. Please don't ask teachers to give your gifted child more work. Instead ask for opportunities for your child to work on activities that are personally challenging. Convey the message that you want to work as a partner in your child's education. If your concerns are not resolved, you may also contact the District GATE Facilitator.

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