Below is information regarding IUSD's Middle School Gifted and Advanced Learners programs.

Advanced Learners

gate leaves logo

Each IUSD middle school provides advanced learners with a challenging educational program. The Integrated Mathematics pathway offers placement options for advanced learners that prepare students for success in college, career, and life. Middle School Humanities & Science courses offer interested and highly motivated students enhanced learning experiences and enrichment opportunities, providing depth, complexity, and connections to the outside world. GATE identification is not used to determine math placement or honors level opportunities in middle school.   




Honors Instruction Beliefs and Practices


  • The term “Honors” represents all advanced learning, regardless of where it occurs. 
  • We have a responsibility to maintain high expectations for all students and to provide equitable opportunities for all students.
  • IUSD guiding practices identify how we enrich the learning for students who are proficient in grade level standards.

To extend learning, we are committed to supporting the development of individual student interests, talent, strengths and capacities to enhance skills for life.


High Impact Teaching Practices
All humanities classes:
  • Follow a rigorous curriculum.
  • Require students to work toward mastery of the California Common Core State Standards.
  • Provide feedback and grades in relation to grade level standards. 
  • Prepare students for high school humanities courses.
  • Develop critical thinking skills.
  • Require students to write argumentative essays, narratives, summaries, and responses to non-fiction, primary and secondary sources, and literature.
  • Provide opportunities for students to improve listening and speaking skills.
  • Use IUSD Board of Education approved instructional materials.
  • Utilize technology to help improve reading and writing skills.
  • Encourage the consideration and application of multiple perspectives and approaches.
  • Make learning relevant to real world experiences.
  • Incorporate student choice in expression and product.
  • Ensure high levels of academic discourse, peer to peer interaction, and group sense-making activities.
  • Stretch students beyond their comfort zone.
In addition, honors humanities classes:
  • Ensure a more sophisticated understanding or mastery of the grade level standards. 
  • Use more complex materials and instructional approaches, sophisticated essential questions and themes.
  • Manipulate the task and learning parameters to prompt deeper and more complex learning. 
  • Provide appropriate scaffolds for students to access and move to mastery of standards. It does not assume students can independently move towards mastery, although student agency and independence are encouraged.
  • Ensure a workload that is developmentally appropriate:
    • Does not require students to complete excessive amounts of homework independently.
    • Is qualitatively different and might increase due to task complexity. 
    • Requires students to think critically and synthesize the material.
Academic Skills & Qualities

Recommended for all students:

  • Self motivated and hard working; focused and prepared for class.
  • Learns best with thorough instruction and practice of new concepts.
  • Appreciates challenges, but also benefits from assistance and practice with complex, critical thinking and novel strategies.
  • Thrives with structured guidance when learning, applying, and extending new concepts.
  • Actively participates in the learning process.
  • Independently reads various genres.
  • Collaborates effectively with all peers, values multiple perspectives.
  • Participates actively in the learning process.
  • Demonstrates a growth mindset in taking intellectual risks and overcoming obstacles.

Recommended for honors students:

  • Excels in the Humanities (ELA and/or HSS).
  • Highly self motivated, strong work ethic and works well independently. 
  • Masters concepts quickly without the need for much repetition.
  • Engages in critical thinking, is eager to ask questions and delves deeper into rigorous problem solving.
  • Seeks out and actively contributes to classroom discussions.
  • Reads higher level, complex texts in a variety of genres.
  • Utilizes the writing process effectively and understands the need for multiple revisions.
  • Is inquiry-driven, thinks critically about world issues related to the assigned reading and writing (goes beyond surface meanings, makes connections and inferences)
  • Manages time well (able to balance school work, family obligations and extra-curricular activities).
While all students are welcome to participate in advanced learning opportunities, students who demonstrate the abilities and work habits in the right column are typically more successful within the honors setting.

School Programs


Links to each Middle School website can be found here: IUSD Schools   


Frequently asked questions


We are new to IUSD and my child participated in the GATE program in his/her previous district. How will my child be placed in middle school courses?


Each IUSD Middle School utilizes a multiple criteria method process for placement in advanced courses. Students in grades 7-8 may be placed into the GATE program, an Honors course or other program option at the discretion of the school administration team.  Please contact your middle school office directly.   


K-8 site contacts


Beacon Park (K-8) Queenee Mak TBD
Cadence Park (K-8) Veronica O'Mara TBD
Plaza Vista (K-8) Marissa Mercadante TBD
Solis Park (K-8) Devon Zangger TBD
Vista Verde (K-8) Jackelyn Jones TBD