What is a gifted program?
Gifted Programs are designed to provide a more challenging educational curriculum for exceptionally bright students who meet very specific criteria for placement in such a program. These programs tend to focus on expanding the traditional curriculum, rather than teaching above grade level. Critical thinking skills and specific concentration on abstract reasoning skills should be emphasized in the Gifted classroom. Programs vary from school to school, from part time to full time and in some instances specific schools are designated as gifted centers. A parent may have the choice as to which type of program best suits their child. Since gifted programs fall under the umbrella of Exceptional Student Education, each student who is eligible for placement receives an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), specifically designed to meet the needs of that student.
Who qualifies for placement in a Gifted Program?
Any student who meets or exceeds established standards for eligibility will be considered for placement in a gifted program. The ultimate decision for placement rests with each school district representative who reviews all test data and anecdotal information available on the child. In Pennsylvania, no one test or type of test may be used as the sole criterion for determining that a student is or is not gifted. Generally, the standards include a Full Scale IQ Score of 130 or above and demonstration of gifted qualities on a teacher- completed gifted checklist. In addition, academic achievement measures may also be administered to assess high performance in academic areas such as math, reading, or writing. A quality evaluation looks less at the overall IQ score, but seeks to identify exceptional cognitive skills, creativity, or leadership ability that may require academic enrichment.
How do I know if my child is “gifted”?
All children have a profile of relative strengths and weaknesses. While not always the case, many intellectually gifted youngsters show an early interest in learning, tend to grasp new concepts easily and show a curiosity about a variety of topics. Oftentimes such youngsters are easily bored if not sufficiently stimulated by their environment. Early interest in Reading or Math is not necessarily an indicator of giftedness, nor are straight A’s in school in and of themselves. The classroom teacher or pre-school teacher is often a good judge of “giftedness” as they have the opportunity to observe your child over time in relation to the many other students they have worked with. At the same time, some teachers have a built-in bias against the concept of giftedness as it has been so widely overused.
What tests are used when assessing a child for the gifted program?
The most commonly used IQ tests for children over the age of six are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Fourth Edition (WISC IV), the Stanford Binet Fifth Edition (SB5), and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC). For children under the age of six, the Wechsler Pre-School and Primary Scales of Intelligence Third Edition (WPPSI III) , Stanford Binet Fifth Edition (SB5) and Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC), are most widely used. Academic Achievement measures typically include the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test Second Edition (WIAT 2), Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement Third Edition (WJR III) or Kaufman Tests of Academic Achievement (K-TEA).
Who can administer these tests?
These tests should only be administered by professionals with appropriate training and licensure/certification. Professionals sanctioned to provide such assessments include certified and/or licensed School Psychologists and Licensed Psychologists. School Psychologists employed by the school system typically possess a Masters, Specialist or Doctorate in School Psychology and are certified by the State as possessing the necessary training and experience to perform these tests. Independent Psychologists and School Psychologists must be licensed in their respective fields by the State in order to perform these tests.
How long does gifted testing take?
Gifted testing that only includes IQ assessment usually takes 1.5-2 hours. Further time would be needed to review records, gather relevant history, and provide further assessment. Gifted evaluation is usually completed in one or two sessions.
Why would a parent choose to have their child tested privately?
Private testing allows a parent the opportunity to investigate the psychologist/school psychologist prior to selection in order to determine confidence and a comfort level with credentials, experience and demeanor. Selection of an independent psychologist/school psychologist also allows for greater latitude in discussing the particular strengths, weaknesses and personality of your child in order to determine the most appropriate tests for your child as well as the best time to conduct testing. School psychologists may be burdened with an overload of testing and other responsibilities, negatively impacting the quality, depth, and scope of an evaluation. In addition, when children are assessed in school the time and setting is often dependent upon the availability of the psychologist rather than the needs of the student. If your child has been previously tested by the school psychologist and not recommended for gifted placement, the school system may wish to wait as long as two years before being eligible for retesting, whereas testing may be completed sooner if done privately. Private testing is often preferred if your child has any special needs, is particularly shy or withdrawn, active or inattentive, or if any issues beyond the giftedness are to be addressed.
What can I do to prepare my child for testing?
Make sure that your child gets a good night’s sleep prior to testing and has a nutritious breakfast in the morning. We strongly urge you not to try to “coach” your child. These are not tests you can, or should, prepare for, as they are meant to measure innate ability. Do not overemphasize the importance of this test or act in a way so as to add to any test anxiety. Do not speak in terms of passing or failing the test (which is impossible), but rather in terms of doing one’s best in order to help with the best placement for next year.
Why choose the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health to conduct your evaluation?
Our certified school psychologists and licensed psychologists have achieved doctorates in their field with advance training and specialization. Dr. O’Brien and Dr. McFillin have worked in the public school system and are familiar with all current requirements for gifted placement as well as a clear understanding of the type of child who benefits most from a gifted placement. We are passionate about reading the most relevant literature and utilizing research to inform our work. Our setting offers a quiet and comfortable testing environment and evaluations can be scheduled to meet the needs of each individual child. Most importantly, we love what we do and will take the time get to know and understand the children we evaluate.