There are many different definitions and interpretations of the term “gifted.” Most include advanced development in the following areas: intellectual ability, creativity, memory, motivation, physical dexterity, leadership, and sensitivity to the arts. With respect to educational services for the gifted in the State of Arizona, the definition of giftedness is limited to academic giftedness, or a student’s potential for future success in school. Gifted education is mandated in Arizona for students in K– 12th grade. According to State statute, a “gifted pupil” is a child who is of lawful school age and who demonstrates superior intellect or advanced learning ability or both (ARS 15-779.02). This is determined by scores at or above the 97th percentile on nationally normed ability or intelligence tests in one or more of three areas – verbal, quantitative, or nonverbal reasoning. An ability or intelligence test is different from an achievement test such as the AIMS, in that achievement tests measure what a student has learned with respect to their grade level standards, while ability or intellectual tests measure more innate or natural problem solving-skills. Most school districts provide ability testing for children who are suspected of being gifted. However, the measures used are typically a timed paper and pencil or online tests (e.g., the CogAT), are administered in a group setting, and are administered by a teacher who specializes in gifted instruction. Because not all children respond well to this type of testing scenario, an individual test of intelligence (IQ test) given by a psychologist trained in intellectual assessment of children might provide a more fair, balanced and comprehensive assessment of a child’s true intellectual ability. At Arizona Child Psychology, PLLC, we offer individualized intelligence / gifted evaluations that can be used by a child’s school in determining appropriate academic placement.
Any preschool or school aged child can be tested for giftedness. However, parents should be aware that younger children may demonstrate considerably more variability in their tested cognitive / IQ scores because IQ typically shows greater stability as children grow and mature. In other words, older children typically have more stable IQ scores whereas younger children tend to show more variability in their IQ scores if tested on repeated occasions.
Most testing sessions last between 2 to 3 hours with the child, depending upon the particular assessment battery being utilized. In most testing situations parents are not present in the testing room with their child. Parents are instead welcome to wait in our waiting room, with many parents choosing to bring in laptops, reading material or personal work to occupy their time while their child is being tested. Parents who wish to “drop off” their child are allowed to do so, provided that the child is comfortable with this arrangement, a parent cell phone number is provided, and the parent is expected to return approximately 20 minutes prior to the anticipated completion time.
In preparing for testing, children and adolescents should be given a good, healthful breakfast or meal prior to the testing session in order to optimize their performance. Children and adolescents should also get a good, restful night’s sleep prior to the testing session in order to optimize their performance. Parents should pack a healthful snack for their child to eat during testing breaks, which will allow him/her to “recharge” his/her batteries during down time. Healthful snacks might include granola bars, apple slices, trail mix, string cheese, etc.
Testing is an effortful process that can sometimes feel quite taxing. As such, parents should expect that their child might feel drained after participating in comprehensive gifted testing. Some children may wish to take a nap after testing, while others may feel the need to be active and expend energy. Parents should do their best to accommodate their child’s unique wishes after testing. All children should also be complemented and recognized for their cooperation and participation in the gifted testing process.
There are many reasons why a parent would want to pursue gifted testing for their child or adolescent. One of the most common reasons parents choose to initiate such testing is to determine whether a child meets eligibility requirements for a gifted or academically enriched program. As previously noted, State law in Arizona mandates gifted education be provided for students who demonstrate superior intellect or advanced learning ability or both (ARS 15-779.02). Such is commonly determined by scores at or above the 97th percentile on nationally normed ability or intelligence tests in one or more of three areas – verbal, quantitative or nonverbal reasoning. Gifted education programs administered by Arizona school districts often include “pull out” enrichment services or “self-contained” gifted education programs, both of which have unique admissions requirements that are tied to how a child performs on a nationally normed intelligence / ability test. In short, not all gifted programs are alike! Some are considerably more advanced and academically challenging than others. As such, a comprehensive gifted evaluation is often the best way to estimate a child’s ability to succeed in any specific gifted education program, as well as determining whether the testing admissions requirements for entry into such programs are met. Aside from district administered gifted programs, Arizona has also seen exponential growth in recent years in charter schools geared towards academic enrichment (e.g., BASIS Schools, Great Hearts Academies etc.). Gifted testing can also help parents determine whether a student is intellectually suited for these types of educational environments as well.
Gifted testing performed at Arizona Child Psychology, PLLC typically includes the administration of one or more nationally normed and standardized measures of intellectual / cognitive ability such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fifth Edition (WISC-V), Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™— Fourth Edition (WPPSI™–IV), The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales – 5th Edition (SB-5), or the Woodcock-Johnson IV Test of Cognitive Abilities (WJ-IV).
Our testing protocols are designed to provide relevant data and information regarding a child’s ability in the three core areas used to determine eligibility for gifted placement in Arizona schools (verbal ability, nonverbal reasoning, and quantitative ability). Relevant testing instrument(s) are selected by the examiner to best suit the particular child or adolescent being tested. Because academic achievement scores are not usually necessary when determining gifted placement eligibility in Arizona, our standard gifted testing protocol does not include measures of academic achievement.
However, if a parent desires this supplemental testing information it can be included into the testing battery for an additional fee. All gifted testing at Arizona Child Psychology, PLLC culminates in a formal written report sent to the parent(s) within 7 – 10 business days of completing gifted testing. Our reports describe the various testing procedures administered, and summarize the child’s performance and obtained scores in relevant areas. Recommendations based upon a child’s performance are also made.