Santa Barbara High School District
Gifted and Talented Education

721 East Cota Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 730-7775 • (FAX) 962-7196 • Office Hours: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
Dr. Brian Sarvis, Superintendent • Jan Zettel, Assistant Superintendent
e-mail: Sandy Robertson, District GATE Coordinator: srobertson@sbsdk12.org

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Test Information and Sample Questions

Each year a search is conducted for potential GATE students. All students entering junior high schools from the Santa Barbara Elementary, Goleta Union, Hope, and Cold Spring, and Montecito School Districts who are already GATE identified do not need to re-test to participate in the Santa Barbara Secondary District’s GATE program. Testing for those students who are not GATE identified is offered at each school site in the Santa Barbara Elementary District, Goleta Union, Hope, Cold Spring, and the Montecito Union School Districts during the regular school day. In addition, GATE testing is offered on Saturdays in October, January, February, March, May, and June, and on a weekday in August. Students may register for GATE testing by completing the Registration Form (available on the web site, through their school’s counseling office, or from the GATE Office) and providing the required information (see Registration Form). Once a student is identified, appropriate GATE classes will be recommended for their junior and senior high school schedules.

Students may be identified in one of three categories. In each of the categories, identification is made using a combination of test scores and other pertinent data, such as achievement test scores, teacher completion of the Renzulli Scale, report cards, a student portfolio, and/or quality of previously completed courses.

  • Category 1 – GATE Identified: Intellectual Ability – The student has a composite score of 95th percentile or better on the Cognitive Abilities Test and at least a 90th percentile in two areas (NPRS: total reading, math and/or language) of acceptable nationally-normed achievement tests OR a Scaled Score of 435 in English Language Arts or a 450 in math on the California Achievement Test over the past two years.
  • Category 2 -- GATE Qualified: Specific Academic – The student has a composite score of 90th percentile or better on the Cognitive Abilities Test and at least 95th percentile in two areas (NPRS: total reading, math and/or language) of acceptable nationally-normed achievement tests OR a Scaled Score of 435 in English Language Arts or 450 in math on the California Achievement Test over the past two years.
  • Category 3 -- GATE Recommended: Other High Potential – A limited number of students are identified in this category. Students in this category have not qualified in Categories 1 or 2; however, other available data and superior range test scores make the student a strong candidate for placement. The student's success in the recommended placement will be evaluated at the end of the year to determine continued participation.

If you would like information on testing dates, see Testing or call the GATE office at 730-7775.

If a student does not qualify for participation in the GATE program based on the CogAT or achievement test scores, a portfolio and Renzulli Scale may be submitted. See below for details.

Submitting a Portfolio for GATE Qualification

A portfolio of exemplary work, illustrative of a student’s outstanding achievement in two areas, can be submitted to the GATE Office as part of the process for determining eligibility for participation in Santa Barbara High School District’s GATE Program.

The portfolio should consist of the following required components:

  1. Two pieces of writing from the most recent school year *one piece should represent outstanding work in literary analysis (NOT a book report) *one piece of writing should represent the student’s creative abilities (poetry, short story, play, etc.) *EACH PIECE OF WRITING SHOULD INCLUDE A DRAFT ONE WITH TEACHER’S COMMENTS AND A FINAL COPY SHOWING CORRECTIONS AND REVISIONS.
  2. Two examples of a student’s outstanding ability in math should be included *one piece could be a work sample(test or homework) from a high level math class *one piece could be a math project

The portfolio might also contain an optional component, such as the following:

  1. An art project (photos of art work that is too large to include would be acceptable 2. A multimedia project 3. A music or other performing arts piece

Portfolios will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the District GATE Coordinator, one school Site Coordinator, and two counselors from the secondary schools. Portfolios are due in the GATE Office 3 weeks after the receipt of qualification letter, or by April 15, whichever comes first. Further information can be obtained by calling the GATE Office at 730-7775 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Completing the Renzulli Scale for Identification Criteria

The Renzulli Scale is used to determine a student’s characteristics in the areas of learning, motivation, creativity, and leadership, as well as providing further insight into a student’s intellectual potential. It is a valid and reliable instrument, developed from comprehensive reviews of the literature on the traits of gifted and talented youth, input from experts in gifted education, and feedback from school personnel regarding item clarity and observability. Interjudge reliability is high.

If a student does not qualify for participation in the GATE program based on the CogAT or achievement test scores, parents and students can request that a teacher(s) complete the Renzulli Scale in the areas of a student’s strength. The completed Scale should be submitted directly to the GATE Office, and it is kept confidential. It will be reviewed (along with the portfolio) by a committee that will make a determination for GATE qualification.

Parents should understand that a teacher who agrees to complete the scale is not automatically recommending a student for the Gate Program; rather, they are completing a survey of a student’s learning characteristics which is then interpreted to yield a numerical rating. The numerical rating is used in combination with test scores and a portfolio (if submitted) to determine qualification.

The Renzulli Scale contents are confidential; the required rating is a 90% for qualification.


The Cognitive Abilities Test

The test used to screen prospective GATE students is the Cognitive Abilities Test. It is composed of three batteries or parts and provides information about an individual's ability to solve word, number, and spatial problems.

The Verbal Battery tests a student's vocabulary, as well as his/her comprehension of ideas, efficiency and verbal memory, and ability to discover word relationships. Statistics show a high correlation between high verbal ability and success in a variety of school subjects.

The Quantitative Battery tests the student's quantitative reasoning and problem solving ability and provides an appraisal of the student's general level of abstract reasoning

The Nonverbal Battery provides an opportunity for individuals who process information in a holistic way to show how well they can reason. Scores on this section of the test are not influenced by reading ability or language facility. Students who score high have well-developed reasoning abilities, but they process information quite differently from the highly verbal student.

The scores from the three batteries of the Cognitive Abilities Test are combined with other indicators. If this information meets the general level expected for GATE students, students are then considered for identification in one of the following categories

• Intellectual Ability

• Specific Academic

• Other High Potential

• Provisional

Many people ask “How can I prepare for the GATE test.” This is an abilities test which predicts a students projected achievement in a given area; it tests the students’ knowledge. The following is a description of the three batteries on which students are tested.

Three tests are administered in the verbal section. Each test is approximately 20 questions and the student is given ten minutes to complete each test. These three tests comprise the verbal score.

Verbal Classification: The student is given a list of three words that are alike in some way. The student is asked to choose a word, from a selection of five words, that is also alike in the same way.

Example: Green  Blue   Red
Choices: color; crayon; paint; yellow; rainbow

Sentence Completion: The student is given a sentence with a word left out and is asked to choose a word that makes the best sense in the sentence.

Example: Apples  on trees.
Choices: fall; grow; show; bloom; spread

Verbal Analogies: The student is given three words in dark type. The first two words go together. The third word goes with one of the answer choices. The student is asked to choose the word that goes with the third word the same way that the second word goes with the first.  

Example: new (is to) old : wet (is to)
Choices: rain; drip; hot; sun; dry

Three tests are administered in the quantitative battery. The first test has twenty-five questions and students are given 8 minutes to finish. The second has 20 questions with a 10 minute testing time. The third has fifteen questions with a 12 minute testing time.

Quantitative Relations: The student is given two problems numbered one and two with three answer choices. The student is to solve the two problems and determine if the answer is greater, less than, or equal to.

Example: 1. 0+3 2. 3+0
Choices: a) 1 is greater than 2; b) 1 is less than 2; c) 1 is equal to 2

Number Series: The student is given a series of numbers and is asked to decide which number should come next in the series.

Example: 5 10 15 20
Choices: 25; 30; 35; 40; 45

Equation Building: The student is given numbers and signs. The student is asked to combine the numbers and signs to get a solution that is an answer choice.

Example: 1 2 3 - x
Choices: 1; 2; 3; 4; 6

The Nonverbal Battery tests present the most novel problems to students. The items on these tests use only geometric shapes and figures that have had little direct relationship to formal school instruction. The tests require no reading and no outside fund of knowledge. The Nonverbal Battery is particularly suitable for obtaining an accurate estimate of development for students who have difficulty with reading; who have limited competency in English; or who have limited opportunities. The tests in the nonverbal battery are between fifteen and twenty-five questions each and students are given ten minutes for each test. It is not possible to give you visual examples with choices on this page, but the descriptions are as follows.

Figure Classification: The student is given three figures that are alike in some way. They are given three answer choices and five pictures to choose from. They are asked to decide which figure goes best with the three answer choices.

Example: The student is given three items that are odd shaped but each one has 4 sides and is black.
Choices: a black circle; a black triangle; a 4 sided white object; a black 4 sided object; six-sided white object.

Figure Analogies: The student is given three figures. The first two figures go together; the third figure goes with one of the answer choices.

Example: The first two figures are a large square that goes together with a small square. The second pair is to go together the same way that the first two figures go together. For the second pair you are given a large circle.
Choices: a small triangle; a large circle; a small square; a small circle; and a large rectangle.

Figure Analysis: The student is shown how a square piece of dark paper is folded and where holes are punched in it. The student is to figure out how the paper will look when it is unfolded. The student is not allowed to have scratch paper during this exam.

Example: If a dark piece of paper is folded in the center from top to bottom and a hole is punched in the bottom right hand corner, what will the piece of paper look like when it is unfolded.
Choices: A) one hole in the bottom right hand corner; B) one hole in the bottom right hand corner and one in the top right hand corner; C) one hole in the top right hand corner; D) one hone in the bottom right hand corner and one in the bottom left hand corner; E) one hone in the bottom right hand corner and one in the top left hand corner.

If you would like to register you student for gate testing, please call the secondary gate office at 730-7775 to schedule a testing date.  

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