Thursday, July 25, 2013

When did you have your children tested/evaluated -- and why?

Children are tested and evaluated for giftedness at a variety of different ages. In New York City, with its oversubscribed gifted programs, kids can be tested going into kindergarten. In some other districts, gifted programs don't start until 3rd grade, so that's when children are evaluated. Some schools or districts screen all kids, and in some, children are privately evaluated.

I went to a magnet school with a gifted program starting in 1st grade, so I must have had some sort of evaluation or designation -- perhaps informal -- for that.

Then, if I recall correctly, I took an IQ test around 3rd grade from someone in private practice who did such things. It was partly so I could take Saturday morning classes in a gifted program in our area. I had a lot of fun in that program -- taking classes in Esperanto and the like -- though humorously one of my favorite classes was cross-stitching. You definitely don't have to be gifted to learn to cross stitch! (though I imagine the social component was a big part of all these programs).

Now, as we're figuring out school for my oldest child, who's 6 and going into first grade, I'm thinking through these issues again. When did you have your children tested or evaluated, and why? Was it triggered by the desire to put children in certain programs, or because it seemed a school wasn't meeting a child's needs? How did it go and, looking back, does that seem like the right age and time?


Anonymous said...

My kids were given the Naglieri in K and fed into a "young explorers" class in 1-2, then given the OLSAT for admission to a Specialty Center in 3-5, all in the public schools, all automatically having been referred by their teachers. I was skeptical of the gifted program, having been identified many years ago and pulled from class to solve puzzles, which I did not like to do. However,my kids' program served them well, right up until new admin used budget constraints as an excuse to do away with the program. My younger child ended up in a "cluster" of gifted kids in an otherwise heterogeneous classroom with a teacher who was ill equipped to serve any of the cluster. He languished for two years until middle school, where the number of kids is greater and some differentiation actually occurs in the classroom (and not just in the brochure). He still dislikes school, which is a shame because during his sole year in the Specialty Center he once threw a tantrum when I told him it was a three day, not a two day, weekend, because he wanted to go to school and not stay home. Sad that the program was destroyed.

Anonymous said...

We tested my son in first grade because he was complaining of being bored and unhappy in the classroom. He was clearly under challenged in math, but was quite average in reading and writing. We weren't sure what to expect,but were also concerned that maybe he had other issues going on, and thought an outside psychologist could give us some insight. In any case,his scores came back high enough to qualify for the school's (LMSD) gifted program. We are hoping that being identified in this way will improve the level of challenge in the classroom (although to be realistic, it probably won't) and will at least give him he chance to do something a little more challenging during the pullout program. The biggest benefit so far has been that the testing has given me a better understanding of his relative strengths and why he might have felt first grade was a little slow-paced.

'Nother Barb said...

We didn't test our son till he took the ACT in 6th grade. We didn't find it necessary to. He'd been lucky to get 4th grade math in 1st grade on top of his 2-3 day-a-week enrichment pullout; 2nd was an unfortunate year except for the 2-3 day-a-week pullout, until they grouped all the 2nd graders by math readiness. All these placements are by teacher input. We have awesome teachers.

Our school has a flexible matrix
for eligibility into the gifted replacement classes that start in 3rd grade. The matrix involves 2-3 years of classroom and enrichment teacher input, CoGAT and MAP scores, and, sometimes, a test like the Stanford-Binet. I asked if they would give the S-B anyway, they said no. I didn't push it because it wouldn't make him eligible for anything new that he would be in a position to take advantage of. His scores and simply being in a gifted program were enough for most opportunities. The private gifted academy was just too far away.

He took the ACT in 6th grade mainly because we were curious. (We thought half-way through 5th grade was just too soon.) Between ACT and the academic talent search reports, we would know how he compares to high school juniors as well as talented middle schoolers. It is also useful for placement in further classes with the center for talent development, which we may take advantage of during the summers, especially APs. I believe we could also use it for access to community college, which we may also look at for summers (unless he continues his path to being a counselor at computer camp). We are also curious to compare his scores when he takes it "for realsies" in 3 years.

I know the ACT is not an IQ test, and you are thinking about a 6-, not 12-year-old, but this was our experience. We felt it was more meaningful to us.

Ingi Mc said...

My son was in Yr 1 and my daughter K. They were having issues of being bored and I suspected that they were gifted, at least bright. We had Aspergers ruled out for my son, but something else was going on.

We had to pay for it privately (we are in Australia) as the school said they were not special needs. Turns out they are both exceptionally gifted and (much later) it turns out my son has ADHD (twice exceptional!).

Even though it basically made no difference in what they received at school, it helped me understand both of them so much better. The sub-test scores, the reading I did on exceptionally gifted kids, over-exciteabilities and now twice-exceptionality.

We homeschool now, but those tests still let me provide what they need. It doesn't feel so weird to be doing university level physics in Yr 8!

Chris said...

We knew from very early on (before age 2) that our son was not like other kids. When we were starting to think about kindergarten and knew he needed instruction at a level several years beyond that, we found we weren't being taken seriously by the schools we were talking to. We got a lot of "I'm sure your child is very smart." type responses. We had him privately evaluated for IQ and grade level equivilancy when he was 4 1/2. Having that hard data to present to schools made the process much smoother.

Newly gifted SAHD said...

We had our 5 year old tested because we thought she may be gifted and as a SAHD, I wanted desperately to prove to anybody that will listen that I did a great job in at least one aspect of her upbringing.
Also, as a former teacher, I wanted something new to put on my resume that might qualify as a bullet point.
Seriously though, her emotions were different than her peers, so I had discovered SENG after my initial google search and wanted to test in order to make sure what we had and what our options were.

I'm just worried now that I've been "had" by the newsiest form of fraud. Preying on over-attentive, egotistical and fiercely competitive parents with specialized curriculums and designer enrichment schedules. All the while offering debatable theories as to why someone registers as gifted, but usually chases it down with probably because of the "parents usually are gifted too" line.

nicoleandmaggie said...

We're putting off testing until we have to do it. Right now we've found a good private school that is accommodating, so DC1 has only had the kindergarten readiness test followed up by a second academic placement test, and then the grade-level standardized tests (which are silly because they top out-- you can get a perfect and only be on Stanine 8 [out of 9], or miss one out of 20 and be on Stanine 7).

Anonymous said...

I have 2 gifted children. The oldest was tested in 1st grade at the request of his teacher to see if he qualified for gifted programming at school. It was a lucky coincidence that my son had her for a teacher, because I don't know if I would have sought out testing on my own. She is also the parent of a gifted child one year older than my son, so I think her recent experience with the gifted program and testing worked to our benefit. He was retested in 3rd grade with a more comprehensive test to see if he qualified for the full-time magnet for highly gifted children in our school district. He was in that program for 3 years, and is now about to start a gifted magnet program for middle school.

My younger son was tested in 1st grade and did not qualify for gifted programming. I suspected the testing process was flawed due to some problems with the tester and my son's circumstances that day. After a lot of research and following my intuition, I requested a retest for him in 2nd grade. His score was 26 points higher, so he also ended up qualifying for the full-time program for highly gifted kids. He begins his second year in 2 weeks.

The programs have had a major impact on my children's lives. They went from feeling indifferent or even hating school to loving it. Although the reason for testing was for the school's gifted program, the results have explained a lot about my kids' personality characteristics and why behave the way they do.

'Nother Barb said...

Is my school different? I wonder what schools rely on most for placement. Our district puts great trust in teacher observations; it is almost half of the criteria for placement. CoGAT and MAP are the other half. While it is helpful to perform well on tests, teachers also look for traits that are hard to measure: high-level abstract thinking, curiosity, passion for learning, and problem-solving skills.

In our case, our son was high on all criteria (in kindergarten, before any testing, the teacher assured us he would be in the program that started in 3rd grade; he ended up receiving other services before that) so we didn't have some families' situation of a child who tested well but didn't demonstrate the other traits in class, and vice versa. So I don't know all the ins and outs of finding appropriate placement on my own.

So I'm wondering, is my school different? Do most schools rely almost exclusively on tests for placement, even if a teacher recommends the testing in the first place?

Sara said...

You can self nominate for evaluation in our public school district. We did in Kindergarten, mostly because I wanted to make sure I had a "stick" to use if I felt was not getting what she needed. (And it means there are things I might have to request or fight for that I don't have to.)

Our evaluations are teacher nomination forms, parent nomination forms, portfolio of work, and CoGAT test results.

Mary VK said...

Your post brought back some long-forgotten memories!

You were correct in that you were tested so you could be a part of the PAGE Saturday morning program. I am so glad to see that it is still in existence.

I remember your communicating via mail with an Esparanto expert who was absolutely amazed when he found out you were not an adult but only 10 years old!

Cross-stitching was great fun for you but also presented a challenge in fine-motor skills and following directions--of a different sort than academic challenges.

I enjoy Gifted Exchange and the comments.

Miles Corn said...

My son was tested 3/4 of the way through kindergarten at the request of teachers. They gave him the WISC and he scored as highly gifted. Our gifted program doesn't start until 3rd grade. He was bored and acting out in kindergarten, so we are (for now ) trying a Spanish immersion program. Just to make school a little more interesting . The school says to me , as I have read from others, "we have a lot o giftedf kids". They don't believe they he is 4 years ahead in math, spelling, science. I foresee a lot of meetings in my future. I would like to get him into the gifted 3rd grade program for an hour a day, but not sure they will let us do that because of his age ( just turned 6 ). My next step is private giftd school ( but that costs $$$).

Anonymous said...

At age 2, the pediatrician noted our son should be tested with early intervention as the doctor felt he might be profoundly gifted. We had no idea as first time parents. He seemed quite normal to us. As it turns out, our son was highly gifted and had speech disfluency as his brain and thoughts were highly advanced but mechanics of speech was not able to handle the load. We are thankful we received support early on.

Ligia said...

I’m a mother leading a campaign for better early educational opportunities for young gifted children.

Almost any adult can relate to how it feels to have to sit through a conference, training session, or class that covers material that you already know. Now imagine you are four years old. And you have to do this every day for at least two years of your life. That is what approximately six percent of children (those who are academically gifted) starting school throughout the US will face this fall, unless a parent decides to home school them or can afford to pay for private school.

I initially called our County Schools to inquire about resources for early education of children who are ahead of the curve, and I was told to find a private school, with the suggestion that there are several churches in our area that have schools. I called the State where they told me that they don’t have to do anything until a child is six years old. I called the US Department of Education where I was referred to a program (The Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Program) to see if it perhaps it was active in our area. The program has been defunded since 2011.

There are early programs available for children with disabilities and for gifted children at poverty level or below. Parents who have the funds can pay for each child to attend school, or home school their children, but not everyone can do this. I have talked to other parents with similar issues and they have shared stories full of frustration and struggle for themselves, their children, and for educators whose hands are tied and cannot offer these children what they need during at least the first couple of years of school.

These gifted children are people and have educational needs as much as other children in the United States. Here is a link to my campaign:

I wanted to ask if it would be possible for you to share the link with your readers.

Anonymous said...

My daughter had a psycho-educational assessment in Grade 1. We had requested the assessment because we were concerned about her behaviour and also her lack of social skills. We were emotionally preparing ourselves for an ADHD or Asperger's diagnosis.

We did not suspect that she was gifted. I thought that she had average intelligence because her marks were mainly A's and B's. She is an only child so I had no point of comparison. Yes, she had a high vocabulary and yes, she is intensely curious but if I thought all kids were like that.

It turned out that she is gifted (98th percentile) with ADHD and learning disabilities in written expression and math. In grade one, her reading comprehension was off the charts (ceiling hits at Grade 12 reading level and she was able to read this).

The reason that we didn't realize that she was gifted is because her disability in written expression means that she can not demonstrate her abilities through writing. Her personality is very quirky and she kept to herself that she could read at such a high level.

Now that all this has been identified, we have been better able to help her through various interventions. It has been life changing for her. She is still quirky and has difficulty making friends but I have read that many gifted children experience this so I have tried to stop worrying so much about this. We have a better understanding of what makes her "tick" and have been able to focus more on celebrating what were many hidden abilities.

I realize that this may sound strange because I don't know many parents who didn't realize that their child was gifted. However, that is what my story is and I am posting in the event that there is another parent out there that can relate and know that they were not the only ones to not "spot it"!!

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to see how this varies across the country.

In Chicago, kids are tested the year before Kindergarten for placement into a Regional Gifted Center or Classical school. Ultimately, these schools are not exactly set-up for "gifted" children, but run at an accelerated rate (1-2 grades ahead); these are the best public school options in Chicago. Also, to take summer and weekend classes at the CTD through Northwestern, kids are tested at 4.

All of this to say, we tested our son at 4 - which I think may be too young for many children - because that is how the system is designed. It is incredibly difficult to get into one of the above schools past kindergarten (no turnover) and regular public schools are not setup to help gifted/advanced children.

Fortunately for my child, he found the entire testing process fun!

Quyen said...


Anonymous said...

My mom tried to have me placed in a gifted program in the late 80's early 90's since I was extremely creative and was artistic. However, since I also had a learning disability or possibly ADHD, my grades where terrible and it was assumed I must be stupid, despite having an above average IQ. I mean, it's not above 131 so am I just clever? School really trashed my self confidence and I still struggle to this day with my personal image. I believe my daughter is possible gifted or unusual in her thinking. She's always had advanced language skills. It's like having a tiny old person in the house. She just started school and is so depressed she won't speak. I'm worried they will over look or misunderstand her. But I'm not sure how long to wait to have her tested, since I've been wanting to do it for a long time now. I'm afraid if I ask too early they'll laugh at me, and if it turns out that she's bright but not gifted, they'll always snicker at us when they see us. You know?