Alternative Instructional Model (AIM) is a program in the Davis Joint Unified School District. It was formerly known as GATE (Gifted and Talented Education). In 2015-16 there were four strands”, at Korematsu, North Davis, Pioneer and Willett elementary schools.

GATE Controversy and Lawsuit

Lawsuit In August 2012, a parent brought a lawsuit against the school district in regards to the GATE admission policy, alleging that it was discriminatory. In this system, students with the highest test scores were ranked in front of students with slightly lower test scores with "risk factors." Additionally, students who took the OLSAT test (which is more culturally biased) were ranked above students who earned the same score on the TONI-3 test. On October 7, 2016, DJUSD was notified that the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) dismissed the complaint alleging discrimination in the AIM-identification process. Specifically OCR determined allegations were “prospective in nature” and information presented contained “no information showing harm has occurred or is occurring”.

Lottery In response to the lawsuit, the school board adopted a lottery system that would randomly choose GATE-eligible children for spots in self-contained GATE classrooms.

Some parents think that the lottery system is unfair because students who scored in lower percentiles could get spots over children who scored higher. Of course, this is based on the assumption that higher scores are an accurate indication of IQ and that higher scorers are entitled to or somehow more deserving of spots (even though the lottery only includes children whose scores qualified them for GATE). Also, many parents whose children were not identified as GATE-eligible by the school district were paying for private testing in order to gain acceptance into the GATE program for their children.

Jann Murray-Garcia does a nice job here clarifying some of the issues, particularly flaws in the testing processes and the problematic nature of the previous ranking system.

GATE-Gate A petition advocating for no changes to the GATE program has been exposed as containing testimonials and signatures attributed to parents who never even signed the document. These fabricated quotes have been used in multiple promotional materials for the newly-formed Davis Excel group. Impersonated parents are now taking legal action and has been subpoenaed for the IP addresses of the false signatures.

Kathy Glatter has come forward and admitted to forging 30 signatures and 20 comments.

In 2014-15, the GATE program was revised and renamed AIM (Alternative Instructional Model). One major change was that as of June 4, 2015, DJUSD will no longer accept private testing as a means to identify a student for the AIM program. Families who started the private testing process prior to June 4, 2015, who qualify for AIM may still be placed in existing vacancies for the 2015-16 school year based on space available. Students new to the district (grades 4-10) should contact the AIM office to arrange for assessment. 

Recent Changes

In April 2016 the Davis school board voted to reduce the number of strands” from four KorematsuNorth DavisPioneer and Willett elementary schools to two at Pioneer and Willett elementary schools for 2016-17.

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What was the controversy? ~SD

  • Roughly, accusations that a ridiculously large percentage (almost 30%) of students are identified as GATE, making it a two-tiered educational system that negatively labels some students as "not gifted." There have also been accusations that wealthy parents can pay to have their children retested under more favorable circumstances. Others think GATE is just fine as it is. There is a proposal to have children who test above some standard selected randomly for the GATE program. Something like that. —cp