Posts Tagged Testing

Screening of Gifted Students

Part 2 of 3 of the Gifted Nomination, Gifted Screening, and Selection for Gifted Services.

Once all of the nomination process is complete, the second phase begins. The second phase is the screening. In our district we test every 2nd and 5th grader. We use the CogAT test. According to the CogAT website:

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a group-administered aptitude test for grades K-12 used to estimate students’ reasoning and problem solving skills. Unlike assessment tests which measure what a student has already learned, aptitude tests are designed to measure intellectual ability, focusing on analytic and problem solving skills rather than specific knowledge.

Once we have the test results from this we get a print out of all the students scores. The gifted department then goes through the scores to find students who have screening scores above 111. Students will fall into 2 categories:

  • Superior Cognitive Abilities (CogAT screening score of 114 and an identification score of 129 or higher)
  • Creative Thinking Abilities (CogAT screening score of 113)

The idea of the whole grade screening is to find as many gifted children as possible since the nomination of individual students can be hit and miss. This way two whole grades are tested, and we have data on several hundred students.

When an individual student was nominated for gifted screening we use one of two other testing materials. We will use either the Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), or the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT2). We use these tests because they are the best fit our children. Both tests are based on patters, pictures, and probabilities which children in urban settings do best with. If a student scores a 126 or higher on the OLSAT and a 126 or higher on the NNAT2 then the student falls into the Superior Cognitive Ability category. If a student scores 110 -125 on the OLSAT or a score of 109-125 on the NNAT2 the student falls into the category of Creative Ability. The selection process will be the same for these students as the ones who take and qualify with the CogAT.

If you have any questions about the screening process please feel free to contact your gifted intervention specialist.


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Nomination of Gifted Children

Part 1 of 3 of the Gifted Nomination, Gifted Screening, and Selection for Gifted Services.

When starting the process of finding gifted children for gifted services you start with the nomination process. The nomination process is an important aspect of gifted education. There are a few ways a student can be nominated for gifted testing:

  • Parents can ask regular classroom teachers, gifted intervention specialists, or school psychologists to have their child tested if they believe they see some gifted characteristics in their children.
  • Teachers can ask gifted intervention specialists, or school psychologists to have their students tested because they feel that student or students are achieving above other students, or they feel they that student is learning faster than the average student.
  • Students can nominate themselves if they feel they need to be tested for gifted services. This is called self-advocacy.

All students who exhibit some, or little gifted tendencies should be considered for gifted services. Every student has the right to be tested for gifted services. Students from every group, and subgroup should have access to gifted education nomination for testing. Students in regular education and special education should be included. This process can be started any day of the year, and for every grade.

Just as a side note: every year in our district we test every 2nd and 5th grader in order to find students who would be able to qualify for gifted services.

Here is a great resource (below as a .pdf file) for testing and identification  from the book Identifying Gifted Students: a practical guide by Susan K. Johnsen: office-for-civil-rights-checklist-for-assessment-of-gifted-programs.

Research shows that parents are the resource when trying to identify gifted children. They know their children, and see them in multiple settings where they can show their giftedness. The next best resource is the regular education teacher. Research shows when regular education teachers have professional development on the characteristics of gifted children they are twice as likely to nominate children for gifted services. (Which is why the gifted department is trying to help educate regular education teachers on gifted education.)

When a student is nominated the instruments used should be fair and culturally appropriate. To be culturally appropriate means that the instrument ensures the student understands the purpose and nature of the test; minimizes language; include practice items; and present novel problems instead of narrow school related information.

Finally when nominating a child for gifted testing it is good to use as multiple sources. Teachers should be getting information for their own curriculum through tests, and quizzes; from parents who see their students acting differently from the school setting; and from the student themselves. Let the student tell the teacher some reasons why they feel they need to be tested for gifted services.


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Not All Gifted Children Test Well

The beginning of the  school year is always busy for me. This is the time of year many parents contact me to test their child to see if they qualify for gifted services. Many parents tell me their child is gifted, but tests don’t always show it. I always try to reassure parents that I try to create a peaceful and stress free environment. After testing and scoring, I come to the same result as the parent. The child didn’t test well. So I have to use more than just one instrument to see if a child is gifted or not.

But, how can a child who is gifted not test well? There are several ideas as to why a child doesn’t test well. Parents and teachers know some students don’t test well, but know they are smarter than the test results.

If you know a child is gifted, and isn’t a great test taker here are some ideas as to why they may not test well.

  1. Motivation. Some students have motivation and some don’t. If a student has a lack of motivation then doing well on a test is the last thing the child will do well on.
  2. Intra-Stress. Sometimes a student will not test well, because inside they are too stressed out. It doesn’t matter that the environment is peaceful and stress-free, some students will still battle their own stress.
  3. Perfectionism. Some students feel they need to be perfect in everything. This particularly comes out during timed testing. Children who suffer from perfectionism want to answer every question correctly sometimes will not test well. They get stuck on a question and can’t move on.
  4. Over-thinking. Gifted children are smart, but sometimes they overthink things. Students who overthink on tests don’t do well on multiple choice tests (which most gifted tests are). Gifted children make connections differently. When they can’t use their thinking skills to create something unique, they struggle.


To help children overcome these aspects teachers and parents need to help them overcome these shortfalls. When dealing with motivation or lack thereof, try to spark intrinsic motivation. Use their hobbies and passions to your advantage. Use the idea that doing well now will help them in the future to get into a college or university they are interested in going to.

To help a student who has stress issues teach them techniques that will help them center themselves. Help them to recognize when the internal stress is creeping up, and how to control it.

A student who has an issue with perfectionism needs to understand that making mistakes isn’t a big of deal they perceived it to be. To help them understand this place the student in simulations that they will make mistakes or fail. They will see and feel that they survived. This idea isn’t just with tests. This is an aspect of life. Children who suffer with perfectionism need to know at some point they will make mistakes in life. It matters how they handle the mistake and move on.

For students who  just overthink things on tests help them understand they don’t have to fish for an answer. Most multiple choice tests are straightforward. Just as in life, somethings are just that…straightforward. Once the test is over students will look back, and realize not fishing for a unique answer was the best decision.

As the school year goes on, and you begin to see some of the aspects listed above I hope that you can give these children, and parents some help.

What are some other aspects do you find in students who don’t test well.

For this post, I used the awesome resource Parenting Gifted Children by Jennifer L. Jolly, Ph.D., Donald J. Treffinger, Ph.D., Tracy Ford Inman, and Joan Franklin Smutny, Ph.D. 

Posted originally on Ramblings of A Gifted Teacher.

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