The Fort Smith Public School District Gifted and Talented Program (GATE) serves students in Grades K-12. Gifted students are defined as "those in need of a qualitatively differentiated educational experience, due to demonstrated ability or potential." Approximately five percent of the student population of the Fort Smith Pubic Schools meets the criteria for services under one or more of the following areas: above average intellectual ability, task commitment and/or motivation, and creative ability.
Identification, an ongoing program activity, employs a four-step review process and assures equal access to all students regardless or cultural or socioeconomic background/environment. School personnel, students, or parents may make referrals to the program and may do so by contacting the school principal or GATE Program teacher. A student must be actively enrolled in the public schools to be referred, and referral does not guarantee program eligibility. A student referred during the first nine weeks of a given semester is reviewed during that semester; if the student is identified as eligible to receive program services, placement occurs at the start of the following semester or as circumstances permit.
Each student has the right to be considered for program eligibility at any time during his/her school career. Formal identification is conducted biannually, during each school semester. The identification process employs four steps, requires the involvement of school personnel and parents, and assures equal access to all students regardless of race, sex, and socioeconomic or cultural background. Program placement usually occurs each semester.
Program options vary among grade levels and are designed to assure that students receive an extensive variety of opportunities appropriate to their needs, abilities, and interests.
Programming in grades seven - nine employs a SPECIAL CLASS model, with identified students participating in a regularly scheduled class conducted daily by a GATE teacher. Four honors class selections are also available to ninth grade students. Class content is based on student interests and includes all curricular areas studied in thematic units. Research skills and creative problem-solving are emphasized. Students also have the option of participating in Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl.
For more information about the Gifted and Talented Education Program, contact a school principal, a GATE Program teacher, or the GATE Program director, 784-8130 ext. 209.