Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

The philosophy of the San Marcos Unified School District's Gifted and Talented Education (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.

Student Debate

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


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


SMUSD GATE 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.

GATE Brochure- English

GATE Brochure- Spanish

For questions or additional information, please contact:

Name Title Phone Email
Nicole DiRanna Director of Curriculum & Instruction 760.752.1273 [email protected]
Linda De Leon Administrative Secretary 760.752.1256 [email protected]

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 GATE 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
La Mirada Academy Nicole McClymonds [email protected]
Carrillo Elementary Lauren Williams [email protected]
Discovery Elementary Jeff Schmidt and Marissa Coletti [email protected], [email protected]
Double Peak Elementary Christine Dixon [email protected]
Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary Lindsey Sparacino [email protected]
Knob Hill Elementary Shereen Werts [email protected]
La Costa Meadows Elementary Susan Smith [email protected]
Paloma Elementary Jami Taylor [email protected]
Richland Elementary Francesca Suarez  [email protected]
San Elijo Elementary Robyn Ellis and Emily Miller [email protected],
[email protected],

San Marcos Elementary Traci Molloy [email protected]
Twin Oaks Elementary Christine Shin [email protected]