• Program Design & Overview

    Program Design

    OPUSD's GATE program is embedded within the general education classroom.  GATE students are clustered into classes, and teachers differentiate instruction to extend and enrich the core curriculum. 

    Program Overview

    The District utilizes differentiated curriculum and instructional strategies that are aligned with and extend the CA Common Core State Standards, CA Next Generation Science Standards, and state-adopted curriculum frameworks.


    Grouping and structures available for all gifted learners

    • At the elementary and middle school level, grouping strategies are designed to provide effective differentiation, interaction with intellectual peers, and continuity of learning within and across grade levels.
      • Cluster grouping:  Gifted learners are cluster grouped in elementary and middle school. This cluster design provides true intellectual peers and thereby facilitates dynamic interaction and is an important factor in meeting the social and emotional needs of GATE children.
      • Fluid grouping:  Fluid grouping provides individualized and leveled instruction for students.  Block schedules at the elementary schools for reading and math create a structure that allows for fluid grouping of students within and between classrooms at all grade levels.
    • At the secondary level, the grouping and program structures are not limited to a single type at a particular grade level.  High school students are able to individualize their education plan based on their needs, interests, and creative abilities, including but not limited to Honors and AP classes.  Our staff development plan includes the training of teachers, counselors, and administrators in differentiated strategies at the secondary level to ensure that underachieving gifted students and those who do not take Honors and AP classes still receive the challenge that they need.


    Examples of K-8 Differentiated Instruction in OPUSD:

    1. Student Choice and Voice:
      1. Reading and Writing Workshop (K-5) allows students to choose their own reading books based on interest and reading level.
      2. Students have choice in assignments, projects, and how they demonstrate mastery in various subjects.
      3. Choice menus and open-ended assignments allow for individual preferences and learning styles.
    2. Project-Based Learning:
      1. Inquiry-based and project-based learning are emphasized in various subjects.
      2. The arts curriculum is naturally differentiated, allowing for project-based learning with student choice and voice.
      3. Elementary Innovation Labs promote design thinking and computer science standards.
    3. Enrichment and Extension:
      1. Math extension is facilitated through programs like ALEKS, GoMath Enrichment, IXL, DreamBox, and supplemental critical thinking problem-solving work.
      2. Extension activities, challenge problems, and differentiated assignments are provided to students in various subjects.
      3. Enrichment groups, competitions, edtech tools, and projects are available to students.
    4. Depth and Complexity Icons:
      1. Depth and complexity icons are used to enhance lessons and provide a framework for differentiated instruction.
      2. Icons are employed in lessons, and students have a choice when using them to demonstrate their understanding.
    5. Differentiated Assessments and Individualized Learning:
      1. Differentiated strategies include the use of rubrics, learning target matrices, and individualized conversations to support student choice and feedback.
      2. Some teachers provide opportunities for students to opt out of material through pre-tests or allow them to move at their own pace.
      3. Individualized passion projects, exit slips, and note-taking/studying techniques contribute to differentiated assessments and learning experiences.

    Teachers play a pivotal role in differentiating instruction to meet the diverse needs of their students, ensuring the methods chosen align with the intended educational outcomes of a lesson/unit. The flexibility inherent in these practices allows teachers to adapt and refine their approaches based on the unique characteristics and learning preferences of their students. These approaches collectively create a learning environment that accommodates various learning styles, preferences, and levels of readiness among students in Oak Park.

    Articulation with general education programs 

    • The Depth and Complexity Framework provides a set of tools for teachers to differentiate lessons rooted in grade-level standards. All OPUSD students are exposed to the same content standards, but differentiation allows students to access the standards and demonstrate their understanding in different ways.  Depth and Complexity offers GATE children opportunities to explore advanced content through a variety of lenses suited to their individual styles and pacing needs.  These learning experiences include developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they relate to the core curriculum.