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Ask Dr. Shore...

About Gifted Students

Dear Dr. Shore,
I have some questions regarding identifying a child who may be gifted and hoped you could provide some guidance. What are the specific steps parents should take if they suspect they have a gifted child? Is formal testing to identify gifted children done in public school or should parents seek outside testing? How does a parent find an appropriate testing organization?

Schools have different approaches to identifying and providing programs for gifted students. That may depend on whether your state mandates services for gifted children and, absent such a mandate, whether your local school district chooses to provide enrichment activities to these students.

If you suspect that your child is gifted, the first step you should take is to find out what kinds of services and programs, if any, your school district offers for those students. Contact the school's principal or your district's director of curriculum to find out that information. If the district does provide those services, find out how students qualify, and whether your child can be considered for those services.

Learn More

For information about assessing and teaching gifted students in the classroom, see

* Gifted Education
* Teaching Gifted Students in Regular Classrooms
* Gifted Resources
* Teaching Young Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom
* Developing Learner Outcomes for Gifted Students

Although there is not universal agreement on the best way to assess giftedness, most school districts continue to use the intelligence or IQ test as the primary measure for determining eligibility for gifted programs. Individually administered tests are preferred over group tests because the results are more reliable and trustworthy. To qualify for a gifted program, districts often require that students score at or above 130 (which is equal to the 98th percentile) on an IQ test. School districts also might consider other factors in assessing giftedness, including performance on standardized achievement tests, performance on tests assessing creativity, and completion of a rating scale by the student's teacher.

If your school district provides services for gifted children, but declines your request to evaluate your child, you can have your child tested privately and submit those results to the school for its consideration. Before you do that, however, make sure you find out from the school district what kind of test results it will need. If the standard that is used is an intelligence test, you can arrange to have one done by a licensed psychologist who is experienced in cognitive assessment. The test of choice is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (4th Edition).

About Ken Shore Dr. Kenneth Shore is a psychologist and chair of a child study team for the Hamilton, New Jersey Public Schools. He has written five books, including Special Kids Problem Solver and Elementary Teacher's Discipline Problem Solver.

Click to read a complete bio.