San Marcos Unified School District

engaging students... inspiring futures

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)


The philosophy of the San Marcos Unified School District’s Gifted and Talented Education Program (GATE), in affiliation with parents and community mentors, is to provide a challenging education to all students identified as gifted and talented, and to build on their inherent strengths by developing critical thinking, creative ability, high level problem solving skills, and positive self-concepts to enhance personal and academic success.



Program Goals

The goal of San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) Gifted and Talented Education program is to locate and provide educational experiences for students. Program offerings include differentiation in the regular classroom, cluster groupings, and special activities.  



GATE Characteristics

  •       Extensive reading
  • Interest in academic activities
  • Experiments with new ideas
  • Strong motivation to learn
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Exceptional memory
  • Advanced vocabulary
  • Critical thinking
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Wide range of interests
  • Originality of thinking
  • Advanced research skills
  • Acceptance of leadership roles


Programs and Services

SMUSD GATE program significantly modifies the core curriculum in content, process, and product to develop depth, complexity and novelty and to meet the needs of gifted students by exceeding state academic content standards.  Differentiated curriculum is offered as an integral part of each day within the regular classroom.  Teachers implement a variety of appropriate instructional models, techniques, and approaches based on current research and training in the teaching of the gifted.


Identification of Students


The district provides an opportunity for students to be screened regardless of gender, socioeconomic, linguistic, cultural background, or disabilities.  Students in grades 3 and 4 may be referred for GATE evaluation by parents and/or the classroom teacher.  Students who are recommended for GATE will be assessed with the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT8),  along with test scores, and teacher and parent questionnaire responses will be used to determine GATE eligibility. Once identified, students will be clustered in GATE classes throughout their elementary school experience.  All students, regardless of GATE identification, have access to Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes at the middle and high school levels.


Professional Development

SMUSD recognizes that teachers trained in meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of gifted students are the foundation of any well designed GATE program.  Teachers are provided the opportunity to become GATE certified through specialized training courses to meet the needs of gifted students.


GATE Coordinators

Each school has a site GATE coordinator that is responsible for identification and testing of students, working with teachers to provide materials for differentiation, holding information nights for parents, and coordinating enrichment activities at the site.  For more information about the GATE program at your child’s school, please contact your school office for the GATE Coordinator’s contact information or refer to email addresses below.

Elementary School Site School Site GATE Coordinator Contact Email
Alvin Dunn Elementary Nicole McClymonds
Carrillo Elementary Robin Falk and Jodi Kinard ,
Discovery Elementary Jeff Schmidt and Kimberly Okerson
Double Peak Elementary Brittney Russo and Mara Mcleod
Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary Jennifer Lubowe
Knob Hill Elementary Amy Hammon
La Costa Meadows Elementary Susan Smith
Paloma Elementary Camille Burks
Richland Elementary Krista Mendiola
San Elijo Elementary Quyen Nicol and Joseph McCormick
San Marcos Elementary Traci Molloy
Twin Oaks Elementary Ruth Andersen
Last Modified on January 18, 2017