Welcome to a very large family of parents, students, teachers and administrators whose overall goal is to ensure that students who demonstrate outstanding ability or potential are helped to make the most of their unique talents and capabilities.

Dr. Debbie Dillard, District Coordinator


Gifted/Talented Programs creates high end learning opportunities which allow students to flourish in stimulating academic and social environments. In designing challenging educational opportunities, we strive to raise the floor, remove the walls and eliminate the ceiling on learning.

Ceilings are for rooms not students


The philosophy of Gifted/Talented Programs is integrally connected to the District mission statement. The District's instructional programs for gifted and talented students are based on the principles that all students are to receive an education appropriate to their individual capabilities, interests, and needs, and that students have learning opportunities that help develop their abilities to the highest level. Because gifted and talented students generally demonstrate high performance or capacity for high performance beyond age/grade expectations, they are atypical learners who require specialized learning experiences beyond the regular curriculum.


Los Angeles Unified School District was one of two districts in California to develop an extensive educational program for gifted in 1951. However, there was no legislation to provide school districts with funds to develop programs for gifted students. The California Department of Education conducted a "State Study of Educational Programs" sponsored by the State Legislature in 1957-1960.

"The study proved conclusively that special provisions made in these programs are beneficial for the gifted…participating pupils made striking gains in achievement with accompanying personal and social benefits."

In 1961, AB362 provided minimal funding for excess cost reimbursement for mentally gifted minors. There were insufficient funds to cover all school districts in California. A new district in California could only apply if a district dropped out of the program. The program was named MGM, or Mentally Gifted Minors. The Intellectual Category was the only category for identification in California.

In 1980, the California Legislature provided legislation (AB1040) to adopt the federal definition of gifted. The program was renamed Gifted and Talented Education (GATE). The Marland Federal Report on gifted education adopted the following:

Students who are identified as gifted/talented exhibit ‘excellence’ or the capacity for excellence far beyond that of their chronological peers. They require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their ability to contribute to self and society.

This definition expanded the identification categories of gifted to include intellectual ability, high achievement ability, specific academic ability, leadership, creativity, and visual and performing arts abilities. It provided for 200 minutes a week of differentiated curriculum. The Legislature deemed that each school district determine the categories for identification.

It was the intent of the Legislature in passing AB555 in 1986 to ensure that programs for gifted and talented students are continued and improved. AB555 provided funding for all school districts upon application and approval from the California Department of Education.

Changes Governing Gifted and Talented Education: AB2313
The legislation supports unique opportunities for high-achieving and underachieving students who are identified gifted/talented. Its intent is that special efforts be made to ensure that students from economically disadvantaged and varying cultural backgrounds be provided with full participation in unique learning opportunities.

 Click here to view current GATE Standards

Starting January 1, 2001, the legislation did the following:


Differentiated Instruction: The 200-minute per week minimum requirement for differentiated instruction has been eliminated, and replaced with a more rigorous standard that requires instructional programs be planned and organized as an integrated, differentiated learning experience throughout the regular school day, and may be augmented and supplemented with other differentiated activities related to the core curriculum.

2. New Standards: Revises the application requirements to reflect new standards for each of the following categories:

Program Design
Provide a comprehensive continuum of services and program options responsive to the needs, interests, and abilities of gifted students and based on philosophical, theoretical, and empirical support.

Identification procedures are equitable, comprehensive, and ongoing. They reflect the district's definition of giftedness and its relationship to current state criteria.

Curriculum and Instruction
Develop differentiated curriculum, instructional models and strategies that are aligned with and extend the state academic content standards and curriculum frameworks. The differentiated curriculum is related to theories, models, and practices from the recognized literature in the field.

Social and Emotional Development
Establish and implement plans to support the social and emotional development of gifted learners to increase responsibility, self-awareness, and other issues of affective development.

Professional Development
Provide professional development opportunities related to gifted education to administrators, teachers, and staff to support and improve educational opportunities for gifted students.

Parent and Community Involvement
Provide procedures to ensure consistent participation of parents and community members in the planning and evaluation of programs for gifted students.

Program Assessment
Establish formal and informal evaluation methods and instruments that assess the gifted program and the performance of gifted students (which meets or exceeds state content standards). Results of data collected, including state standardized tests, are used to study the value and impact of the services provided and to improve gifted programs and gifted student performance.

Budgets for gifted programs suppport and provide for all the components of the District's GATE program and meet the related standards.

Categorical education programs, including funding for Gifted and Talented Education are in constant need of public support. Existing federal and state accountability systems redirect funds away from GATE to other purposes. The result has been a severe reduction in services to GATE students. Support from members of the Assembly Education Committee to direct GATE funds to serve the GATE student population is needed. Letters and phone calls of support are recommended.

Program Features
(Differentiated Instruction)

  • Accelerated or advanced content
  • More complex understandings of generalizations, principles, theories, and the structure of the content area
  • Abstract concepts and thought processes or skills
  • Level and type of resources used to obtain information, acquire skills, and develop products
  • Appropriation of longer/shorter time span for learning
  • Generating new information and/or products
  • Transfer of learning to new/different disciplines, situations
  • Development of personal growth and sophistication in attitudes, appreciations, feelings, intuition
  • Independence of thought and study

District Mission Statement

The teachers, administrators and staff of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) believe in the equal worth and dignity of all students and are committed to educate all students to their maximum potential.

LAUSD Gifted/Talented Programs  

Central Administrative Offices
333 S. Beaudry Ave., 25th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Phone (213) 241-6500
Fax (213) 241-8975



Debbie Dillard, Ed.D, District Coordinator
Catherine Estrada, District Specialist
Lucy Hunt, Ph.D., District Specialist

Erin Yoshida-Ehrmann, District Specialist
Wynne Wong-Cheng, Specialist, Psychological Services

LAUSD Faculty Highlights
Gifted/Talented Programs has been represented by the following District Coordinators and staff:

(1) Allyn E. Arnold, District Coordinator (Retired)
Mentally Gifted Minor (MGM), 1968 - 1986

In 1980, the law changed and the program was renamed:
Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

District Advisors:
Sandra Berro
Alice Hayward
Michael D. McLinn
Judd Perrine
Sheila H. Smith
Claudia Strongberg

Psychological Services:
Bonnie Burka, Specialist
Sylvia Dean, Psychologist
Rene Gonzalez, Specialist

Barbara Price, Psychologist

Implemented and developed the following:

Major categories for student identification, adding the talent area that include: the eligibility criteria and the search and referral process for student identification as Gifted/Talented.

Developed and defined cluster models to ensure maximum opportunities for peer interaction in flexible learning groups and academic program designs leading to higher-level thinking skills.

Introduced the Advanced Placement (AP) program at every high school with the collaboration of the Office of Secondary Instruction and the assistance of the College Board consisting of college-level courses for able high school students (led by Sandra Berro).

Conducted an annual AP workshop featuring a team of teachers in each AP subject area who shared teacher/facilitator responsibilities in a round-table discussion format.

Five universities facilitated our AP students with the use of their libraries honoring them with a library card.

Created the Supplemental Screening and Instructional Programs, providing differentiated instruction with the purpose to refer students for identification and proper placement:

(1) The Conservatory of Fine Arts, a 24-week Saturday program to serve the students in the visual and performing arts (performing arts led by Judd Perrine; visual arts, led by Alice Hayward).

(2) Students in the Primary Grades, an organized screening program to recognize and nurture potentially gifted/talented students and to seek out accelerated learners in grades K-3 (led by Sheila Smith).

(3) The Potentially Gifted Students from Diverse Backgrounds to include the achieving, underachieving, gifted, highly gifted and potentially gifted students from diverse backgrounds (led by Michael McLinn).

(2) Sheila H. Smith, District Coordinator (Retired)
Gifted/Talented Programs, 1986 - 2007

District Advisors:
Angel Barrett
LaRoyce Bell
Roderick M. Castro
Henry Fries
Alice Hayward
Michael D. McLinn
Joyce Mundel
Rhonda Nalisnik
Cassandra Roy
Nancy Scher

District Psychologists:
Patricia Pepe

Judy Ransdell
Marcella S. Trammell
Local District Specialists:
LaRoyce Bell
Sandy Collins
Audrey Criss
Desiree DeBond-Vargas
Celeste Hunter
Lupe Inabu
Dorothy Jackson
Ellis Kaufman
Barbara Locker
Michael D. McLinn

Michele Parsons
Pansy Rankin
Araceli Rodriguez
Victoria Siegel
Donna Simien
Janet Tovar
Lillian Walker
Teri Walsh
Linda Zimring

Continued and expanded the above and developed the Schools for Advanced Studies, as another program option, in collaboration with the Office of Secondary Instruction to increase staff's professional training to support the development of gifted and talented youth, offering an intensive academic articulated program in which both innovative and traditional courses are taught.

Led the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Grant which awarded Los Angeles Unified School District high schools and two learning centers with funds to support teacher professional development for advanced placement subjects.

Led the Advanced Placement Payment Program (AB2216) which provides state and federal funds to low-income students to remove the financial barrier that may have prevented students from taking the AP examinations. The AP program became the largest District program in the nation sending many minority students to college well-prepared.

Created and developed the GATE Website.

(3) LaRoyce Bell, District Coordinator (Retired)
Gifted/Talented Programs, 2007 - 2012

District Specialists:
Catherine Estrada
Dr. Lucy Hunt
Erin Yoshida-Ehrmann
Kathleen M. McGrath
Jennifer M. Slabbinck

District Psychologists:
Patricia Pepe

Wynne Wong-Cheng
Continued and expanded the above, implemented the 2008-2010 GATE Certification Program and the Symposium where over 1,000 LAUSD teachers participated.

Instituted the Salary-Point Class workshops for teachers and coordinators on Differentiating the Core Curriculum.

Instituted Project Targeted Identification Program (TIP). The program was designed to target schools not meeting District identification goals by providing intensive support from designated GATE psychologists for screening and identification in the Intellectual Category.

Added eligibility criterion for the identification of students in the Creative and Leadership Abilities.

Added the computer-generated identification of students in the High Achievement and Specific Academic Categories allowing automatic identification as gifted in both areas.

Began the OLSAT-8 testing to identify second grade students as gifted in the High Achievement Category.

Expanded the number of visual arts classes from 18 to 24 for the Saturday Conservatory of Fine Arts

Added the Professional Development Section to the website to include:
(1) PowerPoints in different gifted and talented education subjects,
(2) a monthly newsletter for coordinators of GATE and SAS programs,
(3) a quarterly parent and student newsletters.

Created facebook and twitter for GATE.

District Support:

Rosalva Bautista
Office Technician, 1983-2008
Elsie Goodman
Senior Office Technician, 1984-2007
Kristie Greene
Clerk, 1998-2009
Carmen Magallon
Office Technician, 1982-1998
Yolanda Muñoz
Secretary, 1981-Present
Erlinda Reid
Senior Office Technician, 1990-2008

Disclaimer: This page of Gifted/Talented Programs, Web Site identifies resources and links to other Web sites that would appear useful for our readers. The opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of the host website and not necessarily those of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Any advertising presented on these pages is solely the responsibility of the host site and not the Los Angeles Unified School District. Such references and links do not constitute any endorsement by the Los Angeles Unified School District of the products or services of those enterprises.

With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it.

Continue   |   Top of page  |   Page 1  2