When a parent suspects their child is gifted or sees gifted characteristics in their child, there are many follow-up questions and concerns around the gifted identification process. Some parents may need to pause for a while until they decide if testing or assessment is right for them. Some may be ready for the process, but not sure where to begin – the Stanford Bin-what??
It may be confusing for parents, even parents who went through their own version of gifted identification, to make heads or tails of which evaluations do what. Parents may assume that yearly school testing covers gifted identification; after all, what are all those tests for? However, because there are no national policies outlining gifted education practices, identification is highly dependent on the state, school district, and the local school. If you are interested in gifted identification for your child, you may first want to consult the Davidson State Policy Database to see what practices are in place for your area.
The main options for gifted identification are primarily standardized achievement testing or a professional assessment of their abilities. Achievement tests include a wide range of options, but often focus on demonstrating student skills in common school subjects. Abilities assessments, sometime referred to as an intelligence quotient or IQ tests, may cover a range of cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. The motivation behind seeking gifted identification will greatly affect which option is right for your child. You may need an achievement test if you desire to have your child attend a summer program or be accelerated in school, but you may want an assessment to better understand the child's strengths and weakness. Each school, program, or service will have their own requirements that should be clearly explained to parents. While both tests and assessments are used to help parents, educators, and professionals identify giftedness, the two have many key differences.
Achievement tests features:
Ability assessments features:
In her article “Assessing Gifted Children,” Julia Osborn summarizes the differences between testing and assessment:
Testing and assessment practices are continually reviewed and may change throughout your student’s K-12 experience. You may also find that your school or private tester has other recommendations for your child. Many states administer their own achievement tests in schools, and many abilities tests include additional elements, such as behavior checklists or inventory forms for other skills. Often a combination of abilities, achievement, and qualitative information will help develop a more complete learning profile of your gifted child. However, we hope that knowing more about these options may help empower your family to find the right option for your child.
Below you will find a list of commonly used test and assessments for gifted identification. This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope parents may use this as a starting place to familiarize themselves with some of the choices available. The Davidson Academy and Young Scholars Program accept a number of these options. Please check with individual programs for their list of accepted tests and admissions criteria.
Note: Numbers or roman numerals next to the test abbreviation indicate the most recent edition of the test available.
Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) – A K-12 group-administered test that measures student problem solving and analysis skills in a multiple-choice question format. Often given in school to determine eligibility for gifted services.
Differential Ability Scales (DAS-2) – An assessment used by psychologists to provide insight into how students age 2.6 – 17.11 process information. Often includes suggested interventions for parents and educators.
Nonverbal Ability Tests
Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT 8) – A K-12 group administered assessment of student’s verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative ability. Different levels of the OLSAT are available which correspond to grade level.
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales
Wechsler Intelligence Scales
Woodcock Johnson Tests
American College Testing Program Exams
College Board Exams
Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA-3) – An individually administered achievement test for students ages 4 - 25. Measures academic skills in reading, written and oral language, as well as math. Often used to identify learning disabilities and/or achievement gaps.
School and College Ability Test (SCAT) – A standardized above-grade-level test used to measure quantitative and verbal skills in grades 2 - 12. Sometimes used by organizations, such as Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, to determine eligibility into their gifted program
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III) – An individually administered achievement test designed to help professionals screen for academic abilities and/or learning disabilities in eight areas for ages 4 - 50.
Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (WJ-IV Ach) – An individually administered achievement test for ages 2 – 90 made up of 18+ subtests which can be used as standalone tests or in conjunction with one another to measure a student’s relative academic strengths and weaknesses.
Check out the following articles for additional information on gifted testing, assessment, and identification:
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.