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How Gifted Children Are Assessed
It takes more than test scores that indicate whether or not a child is gifted. While IQ tests are certainly a factor in determining giftedness, they're not everything. It's also important to note than few professionals are specifically trained to assess gifted children. The gifted child has special education and emotional needs. If you suspect your child may be gifted, find a qualified professional with experience in working with gifted kids.
Testing involves administering standardized tests that report results in numbers. The information provided from tests is limited. Assessment is more interactive and requires a highly trained and experienced evaluator.
Assessment for very young gifted children may include reading because most children don't read before entering school. Children may be given an above grade level reading test or take an inventory of the books that the child has read. One of the keys of assessment is to allow the child to demonstrate skills in a variety of areas.
Who knows the most about your child? You, the parent! Often the first step in gifted assessment is to obtain the child's history in the areas of general development, education, health, social interactions and family interactions. Parents report information via forms, checklists, and answering questions. Don't be afraid to express your feeling that your child may be gifted. Be prepared to explain why.
The most commonly used tests for assessing the gifted are the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children and the Stanford-Binet. Don't be surprised if your child is given multiple tests as each provides unique information. Sometimes it's difficult to get a good read on the child's ability due to a tests low performance ceiling. Because the tests are designed to be most useful for children who are close to average, they may not provide good information for children who are far from average (on either the low or high end
Gifted children master academic skills easier and faster than other kids. Children will be evaluated in terms of ability to decode words, comprehend printed passages, understand math processes, complete math calculations, produce legible print or script and to write varied types of material. Some skills may be much more advanced than their peers, while others are not. For elementary children in 1st - 4th grades, standardized tests that go up to a 12th grade level can be used.Other Abilities
Gifted children may possess exceptional abilities outside of academic. They may have superior talent in music, art, writing, science, or leadership. They may undertake projects that no one their age may have imagined or attempted. Portfolios of art, writing, and pictures of things the child has built may be collected, as well as videotapes of performances and activities. As you can imagine, parent information is critical.
There's a lot that goes into the assessment for giftedness. Perhaps the most important things for parents to understand is the importance of having documentation of an expert's determination that your child is gifted. This becomes very important if you ever need to transfer schools. Having this ‘official' label attached to your child could benefit her in terms of special services and unique opportunities.
Information in this article was adapted from a longer piece written by a professional who works with gifted children. Read the full article, which includes personal anecdotes here.