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Los Angeles Unified School District GATE and SAS Programs

What is the LAUSD Gifted and Talented GATE and SAS Programs?

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Gifted and Talented Program offers educational environments for students who show signs of giftedness or continue to excel intellectually, emotionally, and socially in school. The two school-based based programs are the SAS (School for Advanced Studies) program and the LAUSD GATE Gifted/High Ability or Highly Gifted Magnet programs.

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What is the Difference Between The LAUSD GATE Magnet Programs and SAS Program?

Both programs offer a level of academic rigor not found in your standard classroom can be “schools-within-schools,” sharing the same premises as standard classrooms. Magnet programs are court-ordered, racially diverse and balanced, schools created in the 70’s to desegregate LA schools. There are standard magnet schools, gifted/high ability magnet schools, and highly gifted magnet schools. Magnet programs are often centered on a certain theme – science, math, performing arts, technology, etc.

The SAS programs are designed primarily for resident students who are already enrolled in the school. Resident students can be nominated for the SAS program by their teachers; students wishing to apply for SAS programs but not already attending the school may apply for entry.

GATE is a program children can qualify for if they pass their OLSAT test with a high enough score in 2nd grade. The SAS is a special program available by referral which is usually comprised of academic history and the results of an Intelligence Scales test. A student can move into and out of SAS Classrooms, or stay in an SAS classroom, but not participate in the SAS program for short periods of time. This is a voluntary program.

Here are a few key similarities and differences between the two programs:

LAUSD SASLAUSD GATE (Gifted and Highly Gifted)
Admissions RequirementsNominated by teachers based upon high academic performance,(Qualified Students OUTSIDE of the school’s district
can apply)
Students must be qualified via a LAUSD psychologist’s assessment,
ability in four academic areas, or have national percentile scores on
standardized tests (See below for details),Highly Gifted Magnet Centers require a score of 99.9%
on an intellectual test)
Classroom FormatSAS students are grouped by high ability (regardless of test
scores).,Note: Just because a child is in a SAS class does not
mean that the child is identified as SAS. Common that these classes are mixed
Classroom exclusively caters to those who are designated gifted
and talented.,Children of similar academic ability are grouped
Application WindowOctober thru MarchEarly October thru Early November
Additional eligibility CriteriaFactors such as class size, student eligibility, and ability is
specific to the academic site.,Students who meet eligibility criteria and who live within
LAUSD boundaries can apply for the SAS permit.
The magnet school is founded upon a diverse population of
students. Certain percentage of student ethnicities are represented in each
school.,Unlike SAS schools, children are enrolled in Magnet
schools based upon their interest in the school’s theme.

How do Students Qualify for the SAS or Magnet GATE Programs?

Both SAS (for outside residents) and the LAUSD GATE Gifted Magnet programs refer to qualified students, who may apply to the programs. According to the LAUSD, students meeting one of these standards are qualified:

  • Be identified as gifted by a LAUSD psychologist in the Intellectual, High Achievement, or Specific Academic Ability categories.
    • Specific academic ability category
    • High achievement category
    • Creative ability category
    • Visual arts ability category
    • Performing arts ability category
    • Leadership ability category
  • Demonstrated ability in all four critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in their primary language.
    • Explain meanings or relationships among facts, information, or concepts that demonstrate depth and complexity.
    • Formulate new ideas or solutions and elaborate on the information.
    • Use alternative methods in approaching new or unfamiliar mathematical problems.
    • Use extensive vocabulary easily and accurately to express creative ideas.
  • Have national percentile scores of 85 or above in both total reading and total mathematics on District-approved standardized norm-referenced tests.
    • Most current OLSAT-8 scores in:
  • APR total or
  • APR Verbal and APR Non-Verbal OR
  • Meeting the achievement level scale score range for “Standards Exceeded” on most current Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test in:
    • English Language Arts/Literacy and
    • Mathematics OR
  • Most current scores on a District-approved standardized achievement test in:
    • Total Reading or ELA and Total Math OR
    • Reading Composite and Math Composite OR
    • Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning
    • Admission to Highly Gifted Magnet Centers require a verification of a score of 99.9% on an intellectual test administered by a school district. However, if seats are available, students with a score of 99.5% or above will be accepted.

LAUSD GATE Curriculum

Although there is no standardized curriculum across the Los Angeles SAS and GATE programs they must meet the common core learning standards for math, science, as well as English Language Arts. The academic programs meet California State learning standards for other subjects.

When it comes to the SAS curriculum, the educator most often structures a lesson plan that best aligns with the student’s academic abilities and performance. Within the SAS program, teachers are attuned to student performance and progress. If the student begins to fall behind due to the advanced nature of the curriculum, they may be phased out of the program. Still, there is the potential that the student can be phased back if they begin to improve on these subjects, all while still in the SAS program. Student evaluation, at least for admissions to the program, may be based on certain tests. To get a feel for these tests, we recommend viewing our 100 free practice questions.

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Similar to the SAS program, the GATE program also caters its curriculum to the child’s performance. Educators are always expected to ensure that the program is meeting GATE standards of rigor; the program is intense even for advanced students. For this reason, students in the GATE program must be placed according to their appropriate academic level. GATE magnet schools each encompass a distinct theme that often guides how each subject is approached. Students are more likely to apply to the program that satisfies their interest in a specific theme that the school offers.

Ultimately, SAS and GATE programs strive to challenge students through a critically engaging, complex, and progressive curriculum. It is important that they continue to set the bar high as a means of motivating student progression and academic growth.

Admissions Process for LAUSD GATE and SAS Programs

The admissions process for both the GATE and the SAS have several important deadlines. Failing to stay on schedule with the admissions process may impact your child’s acceptance. Outlined below is an overview of both the GATE and SAS admissions processes:

GATE Admissions Track

  • August: School begins
  • September: GATE/SAS coordinator meetings
  • October: Choices Magnet Window opens
  • November: Deadline for choices Magnet application (applications submitted on
  • January: GATE parent workshop
  • March: OLSAT testing Window for 2nd grade students
  • March: Placements are announced
  • April: Parents must accept or decline student placements electronically through logging into their personal parent account

SAS Admissions Track

  • August: School begins
  • October- March: School for Advanced studies (SAS) on-Time paper application period. Students who are eligible and live within LAUSD boundaries can apply for an SAS permit to attend their chosen school
  • April: Placements announced
  • May: Parents must accept or decline SAS permit placement by submitting “confirmation of attendance” directly to the SAS site

Important Note:

  • The SAS gives first priority to students who live within the school boundaries. This is because SAS takes the place of the GATE program for resident students. In this case no SAS permit application is required
  • Eligible students who live outside of school boundaries, but within LAUSD boundaries must submit an SAS permit application.
  • Applicants who are still eligible can be chosen by the lottery when the application period ends. They are selected to fill available seats.

GATE Magnet School Point System

When discussing admittance into a GATE Magnet school, it is critical to touch upon the point system. When applying to any Magnet school, students’ ethnicities are considered outside of this point system to maintain a diverse environment. Following this process, the spot is given to the child of that ethnicity with the most points. There are 5 categories in which points are awarded:

  • 4 points awarded if your home LAUSD school is PHBAO (predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian, or other)
  • 4 points if your home LAUSD school is overcrowded
  • 4 points for each year that one remains on the waiting list (for example being denied up to three year awards one 12 points)
  • 3 points if a brother or sister already attends and is continuing in the magnet school that one applies to
  • 12 points awarded to applicants who have already fulfilled the highest grade in a Magnet program, and want to apply to continue at another Magnet program. Matriculation points are only allotted to outgoing fifth and eighth graders graduating from a magnet elementary or middle school and take the place of all wait list points.
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Tell us about your experiences

6 Responses


What ages are typically accepted for SAS schools?

My Son got 96% in Olsat in second Grade in LAUSD

What should I do now, how can I get him tested for highly gifted ?

Please check with your School District to find out the appeals process. This will vary based on the reason for the retest.


I will be going to middle school soon and I am confused on which program to pick. For now, I am going with SAS.


My daughter will be attending a magnet school this year for kindergarten. If we apply this year to a gifted magnet that starts in 1st grade, will she get any matriculation points for already being enrolled in a magnet? And if she doesn’t get into the gifted magnet for 1st grade, will she accumulate wait list points to use when applying to the gifted magnet again for 2nd grade?


Please email us at and we can help walk you through the process of finding more resources for the GATE program in LAUSD. Navigating the GATE program can be difficult, our Parent Success Team is standing by to help you understand the process.

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