Monday, September 7, 2009

How Schools Determine Giftedness

How Schools Determine Giftedness: Teacher Compliments Are Different From District Assessments

It is always nice to hear a teacher or friend compliment a child by saying, "That one is gifted!", but placement into a district program requires more than compliments.

In general, students are given an assessment of intelligence (I.Q. test) by a qualified person, such as a trained gifted teacher or guidance counselor, a district psychometric tester, a psychologist, or a contracted tester from a university. School districts offer these services, but many accept recent private test results if the district uses the test. It is important to check with specific districts to see what tests are accepted before contracting private testing, because most children need to wait a specific amount of time before re-testing.

Common Intelligence Tests Used for Gifted Education

While I.Q. testing is not the only method of placement, it is usually an important factor in the evaluation of the assessment team. While different schools accept different tests, these are the most commonly used tests. They are given to a child individually (as opposed to a group of students testing) by a qualified tester

  • CTONI (Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence) tests children aged 6 and up. It tests non-verbal cognitive ability.
  • KBIT-2 (Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, 2nd Edition) tests children aged 4 and up. It tests verbal and non-verbal cognitive ability.
  • NNAT-I (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test - Individual) tests children aged 5 and up. It tests non-verbal reasoning ability.
  • SBIS-V or SB-5 (Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, 5th Edition) tests children aged 2 and up. It is a test of cognitive ability.
  • SPM (Raven Standard Progressive Matrices) tests children aged 6 and up. It is a test of reasoning and perception. It is sometimes given if confidence intervals on a previously given test are low, of if a child has limited English skills.
  • WISC-IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th Edition) tests children aged 6 and up. It is a test of general and specific cognitive abilities. There is also an integrated WISC-IV that is more specific.
  • WJ-III (Woodcock-Johnson III NU Tests of Cognitive Abilities) tests children aged 2 and up. It is a test of general intelligence and cognitive ability.
  • UNIT (Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test) tests children aged 5 and up. It is used for general intelligence and sometimes given if other tests had questionable confidence intervals.

Parents should not let a test or a school district be the sole definition of "giftedness", because all children have some special gifts to offer. However, for academic placement and optimal services, school districts should not let parent and teacher compliments be the sole definition of "giftedness". Using testing and team evaluations, schools can offer students placement in programs that allow them to work with teachers who are trained in working with students who are, for lack of a better word, "gifted".

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