GT-World Testing FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about ... Testing Our Gifted Children

Note: the information contained in this FAQ is not intended to be professional psychological advice, in fact this FAQ was compiled and written by a software engineer. It is a summary of information gathered by parents, for parents, of gifted children.

Why Test Our Children?

This is a very difficult question, and must therefore have a much more personal answer. For many of us, the over-riding reason to test our children is that the results can make a difference. Perhaps the difference is admission to a specific school, or admission to a school's gifted pull-out program or gifted class. Perhaps its just a matter of proving to the teachers and administration that our child is different, and needs something different in their education. Or perhaps test results are required for participation in some extra-curricular experience such as a Distance Learning, Super Saturday or Summer Enrichment Program for gifted kids.

On the other hand, if the results of the test are only to satisfy parental curiosity, there may be no reason to test the child. Will the child be enrolled in public or private school where the test results may help plan for their education, or will the child be home schooled and allowed to progress at their own rate and level? Do you already have one test score showing an exceptionally gifted child? If so, what further benefit would there be from another test score?

Which Test Is Best?

Again, this is a difficult question for many reasons. Some schools only accept certain tests; in those cases, using a different test would not be of much value, at least to the school. Some states require a specific tester rather than a specific test, such as Pennsylvania's current law that requires the tester be a Certified School Psychologist. Again, testing using a professional psychologist in PA who is NOT certified as a school psychologist would be of little value, at least to the public schools.

Some tests have limitations that make them inappropriate for certain populations, such as a test with a low ceiling being an inappropriate test for gifted children. Tests may also have limitations that make them inappropriate for individual students, such as a reading / writing based test for a student with a suspected or known disability in reading / writing, or for a student who is not fluent in the native language of the test.

The recommendation you will hear most often in GT-World is to first test using a Weschler Individual IQ test: WPPSI for pre-school children or WISC for school age children. This is a comprehensive test that results in a single full scale IQ score, performance and verbal IQ scores, and 10 sub-test scores that can offer valuable insight into your child's strengths and weaknesses. Next, if the child scores between 17 and 19 on two or more subtests, or the score was substantially lowered by the time penalties built into the WISC, the recommendation is to test again using the Stanford-Binet form L-M. The SB-LM only offers a single IQ score, and for children scoring at 160+, a calculated or ratio score to estimate the child's IQ. Also, the SB-LM is less likely to be accepted by the child's school, as many psychologists consider the SB-LM to be outdated. Unfortunately for our highly gifted children, there is no current alternative test that accurately reports IQs for this population.

For more details on the importance of using the Stanford-Binet form L-M for identifying exceptionally gifted children, read "Don't Throw Away the Old Binet", by Dr. Linda Silverman and Kathi Kearney, 1992. For information on the current use of the SB-LM for identifying gifted children, read Current Use Of The Stanford-Binet, Form L-M by Barbara Gilman, M.S. and Annette Revel, M.A., 1997.

It is also recommended that you have an individual achievement test performed, so that you can understand the levels the child is currently performing at in math, reading, language and other areas.

What Age Is Too Old / Too Young To Test?

For gifted children, the best age to test is when knowing the test results can make a difference. For the highly gifted child attempting to enter kindergarten a year early, or skip directly to first grade at kindergarten age, the time to test may be at 4 years old. For a third grader who has become a behavioral problem in school apparently due to boredom, now is the time to test. For a child being considered as ADD or ADHD in the school, but who never showed signs of these disorders at home before entering school, testing can show an innapprorpiate educational placement may be a contributing factor to the child's poor educational 'fit.' For a child who is home schooled, and allowed to progress at his own pace and level at all times, the time to test may be never.

It is generally recommended that IQ testing for gifted children be done between age 5 and 12. Beyond 12, even the moderately gifted child is likely to encounter test ceiling effects. For the highly or profoundly gifted child, ceiling effects may begin as young as 8 years 0 months, even on the Stanford-Binet form L-M.

Who Should Perform The Testing On My Child?

It is highly recommended that you find a tester who is familiar with the unusual characteristics of gifted children. A tester who commonly tests for ADD and other Learning Differences may be more likely to mistake some of the characteristics of a gifted child for the common characteristics of some Learning Differences. A tester unfamiliar with gifted children may start each section of the test far too low, boring and frustrating his young subject. This might also cause the test to stretch well beyond its expected time, and beyond the patience of the child. And a gifted child might quickly discover that if he gets 3 questions in a row wrong, the tester will go on to another area - thus making the test results invalid in his hurry to get through the test.

Different states and school districts have different requirements for testers. Some require certified school psychologists, and will not accept a test administered by a professional psychologist without the school certification. Other districts may only accept tests they themselves administer. Although the school may not accept the results, you may still want to have your child tested privately, to find out exactly what strengths, weaknesses and overall level of giftedness you are dealing with.

How Much Will Testing Cost?

The cost of professional testing may vary dramatically. A student in the psychology department of your local university may preform IQ and acheivement testing for a few hundred dollars, or less. A school psychologist may complete a basic IQ and achievement test for $350 US. A comprehensive evaluation by a professional psychologist may cost $700 or more.

In some cases, the cost of testing may be partially covered by your insurance, particularly if the current educational situation has caused your child mental distress. Using the insurance option, however, you may have a new set of limitations on who can perform the testing.

How Can I Find A Local Tester Familiar With Testing Gifted Children?

There are many ways to locate a tester. Look in the phone book, ask for recommendations from your school or district gifted office, ask your friends. Be certain to find a tester who is familiar with testing gifted children.

Some parents from GT-World plan a trip to Linda Silverman's Gifted Development Center in Denver, Colorado for their testing. And Linda can refer you to other psychologists familiar with testing gifted children around the United States and the world. Disclaimer: we at GT-World have no direct relationship with Linda Silverman and the Gifted Development Center, however many of us have great respect for Linda's work with gifted children and her writings on the subject.

What are the differences between ADD / ADHD and Gifted Children?

That's a good question. Many children of GT-World have at one time or another been suspected of being ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder w/ Hyperactivity). How can a parent, a teacher, or a professional psychologist tell the difference? Why are the diagnosis so often confused?

The common confusion stems from the common characteristics of ADD / ADHD and gifted children. If a child can't sit still in class, wanders mentally or physically, and doesn't pay attention to the teacher, it is not unusual for the teacher to wonder if this child has ADD or ADHD. But what of the child who can't sit still because there is nothing new to learn, wanders to keep her mind occupied, and doesn't pay attention yet gets all the answers right? Is this child ADD / ADHD? The answer is perhaps, or perhaps not.

Only the combined assessment of a psychologist and parents can determine if a child is truly ADD / ADHD. A teacher cannot diagnose ADD / ADHD, although the teacher's observations are important to the diagnosis. To be clinically diagnosed, ADD / ADHD symptoms must have onset before age 7 and be present in two or more settings, not just in school.

For more information on the clinical characteristics of ADD / ADHD, visit Problems in Identification and Assessment of ADHD by Steven M. Nordby.

Specific Test Information

This page last updated on 1/30/2004 by Carolyn K. Please submit all questions and answers directly to Carolyn. Thank you.
Copyright ©1998 by Carolyn K.
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