Is the GATE program obsolete?


Madeline Khoo

GATE students in elementary school receive extra help and guidance to develop their gifts and talents. Their peers do not get the same opportunities and are left out of certain things like field trips and advanced levels of work.

Kaitlyn Luu

In elementary and middle school, students were tested on their intellectual skills and ability which determined whether they qualified as “gifted” students and indicated their academic potential. The students who passed the test were accepted into the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program and received various opportunities to nurture their minds via extra assistance and special field trips. The main objective of GATE is to enhance the learning experience of children who have been identified for their talents that differentiated them from the rest. 

However, GATE does not extend past elementary school, so these students are no longer provided with those resources as they experience a momentous transition into teenage-hood. Later on in their academic careers, some former GATE students feel that the program has benefited them throughout their schooling and into high school. On the other hand, others have found it redundant or have had no impact on them at all.

As an elementary school student, senior Bryce Villao was learning algebra and middle school curriculum because of GATE. This gave him a leg up and allowed him to take accelerated math classes in high school. It wasn’t a very significant part of his early education, but he reaped some advantages from it, like doing more advanced math worksheets.

“It was a little more helpful in the long run, but it didn’t affect me too much,” Villao said. “I think it was definitely more helpful than negative.”

Sophomore Zachary Zheng took the GATE test in fifth grade and passed, but he didn’t get pulled out of class or go on any field trips because of it. The test consisted of questions that had to do with puzzles and patterns that involved problem-solving tactics which was something that clicked with him. 

“It could have probably sparked my inner cognitive thinking, and maybe I started using my mind in a higher form of critical thinking that I don’t really use on a daily basis,” Zheng said.

His performance in school currently isn’t much different from when he was younger, and he views GATE as neither good nor bad because it didn’t affect him majorly. Although Zheng was recognized for exuding academic capabilities that exceeded the standard, he didn’t feel special or superior to other students in any way. 

“Other than that, I was just pretty ordinary and standard,” said Zheng. “I didn’t really see myself as better or different or gifted.” 

The purpose of GATE has been called into question in recent years as more and more research has come out disputing the effectiveness of it. Each person’s experience with GATE is different, so not everyone will get something valuable out of it. Since there is no universal framework for identifying the academic potential of students, not all children considered to be gifted will possess a common denominator that warrants such a label. The GATE test is in no way the most accurate indicator of intelligence as it varies widely across the board and has no standardized criteria for assessment.

There is no telling whether GATE will be removed altogether as more complaints arise and these issues are looked into more. The bottom line is every student should be challenged by what they are learning and how it is being taught to them, and in some cases GATE has failed to facilitate that for students.