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How Gifted Children Are Assessed

Updated on July 3, 2008
Photo: Pingu1963, Flickr
Photo: Pingu1963, Flickr

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.

Special Skills

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.

Parent Interview

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.

Measured Intelligence

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

Academic Performance

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.


Submit a Comment
  • Perry the Cat profile image

    Perry the Cat 

    8 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

    Very interesting hub. As a child I remember having problems with "which doesn't belong" tests. I often found more than one answer. Then I had to decide which was the one they were looking for. When I was old enough I would argue the ambiguity of the question. For example, which doesn't belong: cow, pig, deer, chicken. As you can see, the chicken has only two legs. However the deer is not a domesticated animal. I was going through a learning program with my grandson a few weeks ago and the number of ambiguous questions was amazing. purple Porpoise, purple fish, blue whale, purple dog. Possible answers: Blue animal, fish is not a mammal, dog does not live in the sea.

    Sometimes I wonder about those test makers.

  • CJamesIII profile image


    9 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

    I'm glad you stated in the first paragraph that IQ tests are not everything. Those tests fail to assess street knowledge or smarts (at higher ages). Also, I believe that certain gifts are not even measurable by testing standards, we need to measure them in other ways.

  • Ralph Deeds profile image

    Ralph Deeds 

    11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    Dr. Peter Agri, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry just said on Science Friday on NPR that he got a "D" in his high school chemistry class to the chagrin of his father who ws a chemistry professor. Apparently he was a gifted child who for some reason wasn't responding as expected in his h.s. chemistry class. And of course there's the example of Harvard drop-out Bill Gates.

  • profile image

    Liz Martinez 

    12 years ago

    I don't know what to do with my son. He just turned 3 July 31 3008 and he knows his letters, speak well in English and Spanish, he can play various notes on the piano correctly, and he can sing. Only thing is he doesn't want anyone to see this side of him, and pretends or acts mean in front of others. If we are in a small social setting he is ok, but my husband is a minister and I sing and we will always be in large groups. Some people have witnessed his talents including the Music director for our church and they tell me that I have a great responsibility. My question is what do I do? He wants to go to school with his older sibling, but he can't go for another two years? I called the school district but he has to be 5 years of age. He is doing a little reading with me because he says he doesn't need help. I just don't want to frustrate him in his quest for knowledge. Is there a Home schooling program for someone so young?


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