California’s Schooling System

California boasts over 295,000 teachers that work across over 10,000 schools, serving 6.2 million students. Most elementary schools teach grades K–5 or K–6. California’s middle schools teach grades 5 or 6–8, and junior high school starts at grade 7 and finishes at grades 8 or 9. California’s high schools start at grade 9 and finish at grade 12.

California offers a choice of Traditional, Charter, and Magnet schools for parents seeking public education for their children. There are also private schools state wide.

California’s School Districts

California has three different types of school district:

  • Unified districts, which consist of both High and Elementary schools. These districts can be called Joint or Union districts. There are 330 Unified districts in California.
  • Elementary School districts, which consist of K–6 or K–8 schools. Occasionally the district will include the name Elementary in it, but this is not often the case. There are 560 Elementary districts in California.
  • High School districts, which consist of high schools only. There are 87 High School Districts in California.

Typically, most districts fall into one of the following three grade configurations:

  • Unified: K-12
  • Elementary: K-8
  • High: 9-12

Gifted and Talented Education in California

California Gifted and Talented (GATE) admit high achieving students of all ages. The specialized programs are designed to provide a supportive and challenging environment where students can expand their skillsets and broaden their horizons, enjoying an educational program specially tailored to their needs and abilities.

All California students have an equal opportunity to be screened for the Gifted and Talented Education programs regardless of their gender, linguistic, racial, ethnic, cultural, or socio-economic background. Screening for GATE programs varies across districts and it is important for interested parents to familiarize themselves with local school guidelines.

Admission to California Gifted and Talented Programs

California GATE programs are under the control of local state districts. Every district determines its own standards and procedures for GATE screening. If you are a parent interested in admission to a GATE program for your child, it is critical you find out how your school screens its students.

In general, California schools screening for GATE programs are looking for children who need and can profit from specially designed educational services that go beyond the standard state school program. Admission to GATE programs is usually determined through an ability assessment which measures a child's potential to learn. Such assessments are performed as early as kindergarten, through the administration of learning ability tests. A student who does not meet the district's criteria for eligibility in the one grade may very well be eligible later on.

Learn more about how to prepare for a gifted and talented test, or read on to discover more about common gifted and talented tests.

Learning Ability Tests in California

Most California schools rely on students' performance on learning or cognitive ability tests in order to screen students for GATE programs. The three ability tests most commonly administered in California schools are:

  • the NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test, Second Edition);
  • the OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test®, Eighth Edition); and
  • the CogAT® Test (Cognitive Abilities Test®)

Though this may all sound like alphabet soup, it is important for parents to familiarize themselves with these tests, since test results can have enormous impact on a child's educational opportunities. Therefore, it is important to learn which of these tests your child will take, and how the tests will affect his or her chances of admission to a specialized program. Keep reading to learn more about specific learning ability tests and how you can help your child prepare for test day.

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

The Cognitive Abilities Test is a learning ability test frequently used by California schools to screen children for Gifted and Talented programs.

The test is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and focuses on three areas of cognitive ability: verbal, non-verbal and quantitative. Unlike school performance tests, which assess proficiency in material that students learn in the classroom, the CogAT tests students' raw ability to reason, learn and problem solve. For many students, this will be a first encounter with an aptitude test, and it is important to help children prepare and overcome any testing anxiety.

Admission to California GATE programs is increasingly competitive. By helping your child prepare for the CogAT you can ensure that he or she performs to his or her highest ability.

At TestPrep-Online, we offer comprehensive, age-specific CogAT study packs to ensure that your child is ready. These packs include practice tests, as well as additional sample questions and tests. Some packs also include study guides and videos. Start your test prep for the CogAT today.

Check out our most popular CogAT packs, the CogAT 3rd grade and CogAT 4th grade test prep materials, all available on our official CogAT Page. TestPrep-Online's collection of CogAT practice packs range from Level 5 to 12. Our packs can help your child succeed by familiarizing them with the test questions and improving testing skills.

The OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test®, Eighth Edition)

The OLSAT is a learning abilities test which measures a student's aptitude for tackling different types of learning tasks. Test questions target students' ability to follow directions, classify items, establish sequences, complete analogies, handle arithmetic problems, and more. The test aims to assess students' critical thinking, memory, and ability to notice relationships and patterns.

The test is comprised of subtests in five areas of reasoning:

Test scores are composed of two separate scores for verbal and nonverbal reasoning. A total score is produced from a normalized combination of the two.

Prepare your child for the OLSAT with our fun, engaging online study packs. Get full-length practice tests, explanations, video tutorials, study guides, and helpful tips.

The NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test, Second Edition)

The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT), developed by Pearson Inc., is a standardized test designed to assess the reasoning ability of students ages 5 to 17.

Jack A. Naglieri, an educational psychologist, developed the test named after him based on his extensive research. The NNAT focuses on students' nonverbal skills, and is therefore considered a more neutral test that can assess students' raw ability apart from their specific background. Test questions therefore rely on abstract shapes and designs, allowing for a less biased assessment of children of different ethnic, socioeconomic and linguistic background.

Begin an enjoyable and rewarding preparation journey that includes online, interactive NNAT3 practice tests, NNAT3 practice questions, video tutorials, and helpful question-solving tips.

CAASPP Testing in California

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) are a series of online math and English tests administered in California. The CAASPP test are administered to students in grades 3–8 and 11. These tests were introduced in an effort to increase the quality of education in schools across California.

Smarter Balanced Assessments in California

Students have more recently begun to take Smarter Balanced Assessments. These are tests that are administered via computer and, like the CAASPP, are designed to raise the standards of education. Smarter Balanced Assessments and CAASPP replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR), which expired in 2013.

TestPrep-Online currently does not offer a specific CAASPP test prep pack or Smarter Balanced Assessments test prep pack. If you require practice materials for either CAASPP or Smarter Balanced Assessments, contact us with information on the grade and subjects you require.

Applying to a California Magnet School

If your child is applying to a Magnet School in California, use our pop-up search tool to tell us which school(s) your child is applying to, any test requirements. We will do our best to find the right test prep to help your child prepare for admissions tests and secure a place in their magnet school of choice.

Search For Your School

Every year parents and teachers from across California use our products to help students prepare for testing. View our list of schools below to search for your school.

Bella Vista Elementary School Curie Elementary School Cypress Village Elementary School, Irvine
Excelsior Elementary School Fairlands Elementary School Forest Park Elementary School
Harbour View Elementary School Margaret Landell Elementary School Warm Springs Elementary School, Fremont

We are constantly updating our list of schools. Check back soon for more information, or use our pop-up search tool to find the test you are looking for.

Prepare For and Pass California’s Schooling Tests

Prepare your child for entrance exams, end of school assessments, and gifted and talented testing in California. Get access to test prep material for specific tests and grades. Get access to enrichment packs for subjects like math, English, and Science. Search our site to find prep material for your school district, school, test, and grade of choice.

Looking for another test? We also offer prep for entrance exams, and specialist gifted and talented placement testing for other states too. Use our pop-up search by typing the test name that you’re interested in to get started.

CogAT, OLSAT, NNAT, NWEA MAP, ITBS, Iowa Assessments and any other brands are trademarks and property of companies other than TestPrep-Online. The trademark holder is not affiliated with TestPrep-Online or this website.

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