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Student Selection for Gifted/Talented Programs (updated May 2000)

My child is being tested for the gifted program in his school. He is 8 and in second grade. How are students selected for gifted programs? He recently took the Cognitive Abilities Test (COGAT) and scored 99% nationwide in nonverbal and a little lower in other areas. What does this mean?

My child is going to be tested for the gifted program. What determines if a child is gifted? Is it based on IQ alone?

States and school districts have a wide variety of policies and use a wide variety of instruments, screening mechanisms, and procedures to identify gifted students. Each state, and in some cases each school district, establishes the criteria for identification of students as gifted. In part this is because federal regulation (Marland Report, 1972) established a definition and further refined it by describing the population as "those for whom the regular curriculum is not appropriate" leaving it to the states to determine the population. The definition has changed somewhat over the years, but conceptually it remains the same. The variety of policies explains why a youngster might be found to be eligible for gifted services in one school district but not need services in another district. This phenomenon often leads parents to state skeptically that their child was gifted but isn't anymore.

States can generally be described as falling into one of three gifted education categories:

  1. States that mandate gifted education, identification, and/or programming. These states generally have written policies and regulations that define the mandate and guide identification and programming decisions. Their policies and regulations may define giftedness and establish specific criteria for student identification.

  2. States that provide school districts with a definition, but leave it to the school district to establish criteria for identification and/or services. If identification decisions are made at the state level, the state might define some criteria that local school districts must follow. In such cases, state policies might require school districts to use more than one instrument or test score so that a student is never eliminated from a candidate pool on the basis of one measure or score.

  3. States that do not mandate gifted education and do not have policies or regulations in this area. Where gifted education is not mandated, local school districts may provide programming or services and make decisions autonomously. It is more likely, however, that if gifted education is not mandated, the school districts will not provide special programs or services for children who are gifted.

Parents and educators usually find it helpful to understand which of the above categories describes their state policy and to obtain any state or local documents that describe the gifted population or programs and services for the gifted. To locate information on identification/screening procedures used by school districts, contact any or all of the following:

  • The person responsible for gifted education in your state. A list is available on this web site at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/fact/stateres.html

  • A state advocacy group (included on the above list) or a local advocacy group. Local advocacy groups might be found by asking the state group or your child's school, or by searching citizen testimony before the school board. (Parents and teachers should consider becoming members of state or local advocacy groups because these groups are the link to policy makers.)

  • Local school district offices that are responsible for student assessment—for example, the counseling or student services department. Ask what tests and procedures are used to select students for gifted programs.


Many school districts use standardized tests to identify gifted students. These instruments can assess a wide variety of capabilities, aptitudes, or scholastic abilities, including abstract thinking skills, academic skills, artistic ability, creative thinking/creativity, general acquired knowledge, intellectual ability, leadership, motivation, nonverbal/verbal reasoning, and problem solving ability. Examples of specific tests include the Cognitive Abilities Test (COGAT), Gifted and Talented Evaluation Scales (GATES), the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students, the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC), or Raven's Progressive Matrices. Some states have developed their own assessments; for example, ASSETS: A Survey of Students: Educational Talents and Skills has been developed by the Grand Rapids Public Schools in Michigan. Most of these tests are not considered IQ tests. Like all assessments, IQ tests vary in what they measure. However, IQ tests are usually given individually; those that are given individually are generally the most comprehensive and most reliable. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Stanford-Binet are examples of individually administered tests. They are administered to individuals, not groups, by a licensed psychologist or practitioner. Specific information on tests is located at the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation (http://www.ets.org/testcoll/.

Additional Measures

Often included in broad screening for a gifted program are parent and teacher checklists or recommendations, peer/student recommendations, a child’s school work in a portfolio, and other checklists or rating scales of behavioral characteristics. It is important for local districts to make sure that such lists are valid and appropriate for their intended use with the district's student population.

Following are links to related ERIC Digests, Internet resources, and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used



intelligence tests

EJ558173 EA534294
Ability Testing, Instruction, and Assessment of Achievement: Breaking Out of the Vicious Cycle.
Sternberg, Robert J.
Publication Date: 1998
Journal Citation: NASSP Bulletin; v82 n595 p4-10 Feb 1998
Publication Type: 080; 143
Language: English
A large-scale study identified 199 high school students as gifted analytically, creatively, and/or practically and enrolled them in a summer class in psychology. Students receiving instruction that better matched their ability patterns outperformed those who received nonmatching instruction. Identifying students for creative and practical strengths greatly expanded the pool of "bright" students. Revamped assessment and teaching practices would inspire more students to higher achievement levels.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; *Achievement Tests; *Creativity; Gifted; High School Students; High Schools; *Instruction; *Intelligence Tests Identifiers: Analytic Ability; *Practical Knowledge; *Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test

EJ554809 TM520603
Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the K-ABC with Gifted Referrals.
Cameron, Leslie C.; Ittenbach, Richard F.; McGrew, Kevin S.; Harrison, Patti L.; Taylor, Lynn R.; Hwang, Y. Robin
Educational and Psychological Measurement, v57 n5 p823-40 Oct 1997
ISSN: 0013-1644
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR98
Four models of intellectual abilities were evaluated using confirmatory factor analysis and data from 197 children referred for a gifted program who took the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC). All four models were a possible fit, but the best understanding came from a model posited on a theory of fluid-crystallized abilities.
Descriptors: *Children; Cognitive Ability; *Gifted; *Intelligence; Intelligence Tests; *Models; *Referral Identifiers: *Confirmatory Factor Analysis; Crystallized Intelligence; Fluid Intelligence; *Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children

EJ527624 EC614102
IQ: Easy to Bash, Hard to Replace.
Pyryt, Michael C.
Roeper Review, v18 n4 p255-58 Jun 1996
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJDEC96
This article examines psychometric analysis regarding the viability and limits of IQ testing in the context of "The Bell Curve." It discusses eyeball analysis versus item analysis, mean differences, validity coefficients, general intelligence, and IQ and gifted education, and urges a search for intrapersonal and environmental catalysts that lead to the development of academic talents.
Descriptors: *Cognitive Measurement; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; Intelligence Differences; *Intelligence Quotient; *Intelligence Tests; Measurement Techniques; *Psychometrics; Talent Development; Test Validity Identifiers: *Bell Curve (Herrnstein and Murray)

EJ521554 EC613343
Exploring the WISC-III as a Measure of Giftedness.
Fishkin, Anne S.; And Others
Roeper Review, v18 n3 p226-31 Feb-Mar 1996
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG96
This study investigated patterns of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) Third Edition subtest scores for 42 gifted children in grades 4-8. Variability from subtest means was highest on Similarities, Comprehension, Coding, and Symbol Search subtests. Significant weaknesses were found on the Block Design subtest, seen as a peak subtest for gifted students on earlier WISC tests.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Cluster Analysis; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; Measurement Techniques; Scores; Test Items; Test Reliability; *Test Validity Identifiers: *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III

ED400262 TM025143
For Whom Does "The Bell Curve" Toll"? It Tolls for You.
Sternberg, Robert J.
16 Jun 1995
29p.; Elam Lecture presented at the EdPress Conference (Washington, DC, June 16, 1995).
EDRS Price - MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Document Type: Position Paper (120); Conference Paper (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Connecticut
Journal Announcement: RIEFEB97
Although British psychologist Francis Galton lost the battle for the definition of intelligence in his own time, his views live on in the work of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. They argue that the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is an adequate measure of intelligence, and that IQ is highly heritable. They contend that there are racial and ethnic group differences in intelligence, and that these matter for society. They further believe that tests have been and should be a gating mechanism because they tell who will be better and who will be worse in a variety of pursuits. Their ideas, however, deserve more scrutiny than influence. Herrnstein and Murray ignore the large body of research that says IQ is not the be-all and end-all that they make it out to be. They imply that psychologists are in fundamental agreement on what intelligence really is, but, in fact, psychologists continue to debate the nature of intelligence. There are racial differences in IQ, but are these really differences in intelligence? Herrnstein and Murray vastly underestimate the socialization effects of schooling, home, and community. Even if intelligence does have a degree of heritability, as it most likely does, this does not mean that it cannot be increased. It is regrettable that the main message of "The Bell Curve" is so intellectually corrupt, because there are points in the book that are worthy of discussion. These include society's undervaluing of the intellectually gifted, the degrading of textbooks as opposed to the raising of standards, and the failure of affirmative action to accomplish all it promised.
Descriptors: Affirmative Action; *Educational Testing; Ethnic Groups; Genetics; Gifted; *Heredity; *Intelligence; Intelligence Quotient; Intelligence Tests; Minority Groups; *Nature Nurture Controversy; Psychological Testing; Psychologists; *Racial Differences; Socialization; *Test Use; Textbook Content Identifiers: *Bell Curve (Herrnstein and Murray)

ED387503 TM023654
On the Relevance of Intelligence: Applications for Classrooms? Intelligence Testing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Law, Nancy
Apr 1995
12p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA,
April 18-22, 1995).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; California
Journal Announcement: RIEFEB96
The relevance of intelligence testing for schools within one district, the Sacramento (California) school district and the state of California is explored, and applications of intelligence theory in district schools and classrooms are discussed. Intelligence, for purposes of this discussion, is the aggregate capacity of each student's intelligence, the combination of abilities that are quantitatively different, and the way the student uses these abilities to deal with the environment. California allowed group and individual intelligence testing until the 1960s, but no longer allows group intelligence testing for students. Individual students are tested to identify the gifted or for other educational diagnoses. In the Sacramento City Unified School District intelligence tests are used for the same purposes, to identify the gifted and special education students. Self-efficacy theory and the theory of multiple intelligences are being applied in the intelligence assessment of students in the district. Much that is good is being recognized about intelligence, but many practices reflect the negative influences of believing that intelligence is fixed at an early age.
Descriptors: *Educational Diagnosis; Educational Theories; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; Identification; Intelligence; *Intelligence Tests; Nature Nurture Controversy; School Districts; Self Efficacy; *Special Education; Student Evaluation; Testing Problems; *Test Use Identifiers: California; Relevance (Personal); *Sacramento City Unified School District CA

EJ481459 EC608377
Understanding What Is True and False about Intelligence and Ability Tests.
Johnsen, Susan
Gifted Child Today (GCT), v17 n1 p22-23 Jan-Feb 1994
ISSN: 0892-9580
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG94
Target Audience: Parents
Parents of gifted children are urged to understand that there are many different kinds of intelligence and ability tests; tests are designed for different purposes; all tests involve a certain amount of error; and tests only sample one aspect of a child's performance.
Descriptors: Cognitive Tests; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; Testing Problems; *Test Interpretation

EJ501402 EC611034
Temporal Stability of Gifted Children's Intelligence.
Spangler, Robert S.; Sabatino, David A.
Roeper Review, v17 n3 p207-10 Feb-Mar 1995
Theme Issue: The Psychology of the Gifted.
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG95
Target Audience: Researchers
The longitudinal stability of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised was examined for consistency in determining eligibility for gifted programs among 66 elementary children. All subtest scales except one remained extremely stable, producing less than one scale score point difference across three test administrations. Children originally found eligible for gifted programs maintained their eligibility status over six years.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Elementary Education; Eligibility; *Gifted; Intelligence Quotient; *Intelligence Tests; Longitudinal Studies; Student Placement; *Test Reliability Identifiers: *Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Revised)

EJ479439 EC607999
Testing for Giftedness: The Pros, Cons and Concerns.
Shaughnessy, Michael F.; Fickling, Kris L.
Gifted Education International, v9 n2 p82-84 1993
ISSN: 0261-4294
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJJUL94
This paper reviews the advantages and disadvantages of testing for giftedness, the repercussions of testing and not testing, issues concerning intelligence quotients, and the effects of labeling children.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Elementary Secondary Education; Eligibility; *Gifted; Intelligence Quotient; Intelligence Tests; Labeling (of Persons); *Student Evaluation; Student Placement

ED344405 EC301134
Conceptions of Intelligence and Giftedness.
Bireley, Marlene
Mar 1992
8p.; In: Challenges in Gifted Education: Developing Potential and Investing in Knowledge for the 21st Century; see EC
301 131.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: REVIEW LITERATURE (070)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Ohio
Journal Announcement: RIESEP92
This paper presents a review of the major ideas on the nature of intelligence and giftedness. Especially noted are theories of Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, and J.P. Das. Gardner expanded traditional notions of intelligence to include such talents as spatial ability, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, and interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. Sternberg identified seven metaphors for the mind and intelligence (geographic, computational, biological, epistemological, anthropological, sociological, and systems) and proposed a triarchic theory of intelligence consisting of three elements: metacomponents, performance components, and knowledge acquisition components. Subtheories specify the internal mental mechanisms that lead to intelligent behavior, the role of experience, and adaptation to the external world. The work of Das follows the ideas of the Russian psychologist, A.F. Luria. It sees the brain as involving an arousal system, a sensory reception and integration system, and a system for programming, regulation and verification of activity. A model of information integration replacing the conventional model of intelligence has been developed based upon planning, attention, simultaneous and successive processes. Also noted are ideas of Joseph Renzulli and others and the political implications of these ideas for gifted education in Ohio.
Descriptors: *Cognitive Processes; Definitions; *Educational Psychology; *Gifted; *Intelligence; Metacognition; Models; *Talent; Theories Identifiers: Das (J P); Gardner (Howard); Luria (A R); Renzulli (Joseph); Sternberg (Robert)

EJ454460 EC604601
The Case for the Stanford-Binet L-M as a Supplemental Test.
Silverman, Linda Kreger; Kearney, Katheryn
Roeper Review, v15 n1 p34-37 Sep 1992
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR93
Target Audience: Researchers
The Stanford-Binet IV is compared to the original version and criticized for having less power to measure the high end of intelligence and for having norms that discriminate against gifted students. Strengths of the Stanford-Binet L-M are pointed out, and use of both scales for different purposes is recommended.
Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; Intelligence Quotient; *Intelligence Tests; Preschool Education; *Standardized Tests; Test Construction; *Testing Problems; *Test Validity Identifiers: Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale; *Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale Fourth Edition

EJ454459 EC604600
Stanford-Binet IV, of Course Time Marches On
Robinson, Nancy M.
Roeper Review, v15 n1 p32-34 Sep 1992
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR93
Target Audience: Researchers
This paper presents a rationale for adopting the new form of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales for use with gifted children, based on its more recent norms, its factorial structure, its less restrictive emphasis on g-factor intelligence and verbal reasoning, and its evenness in content from one age to another.
Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; Intelligence Quotient; *Intelligence Tests; Preschool Education; *Standardized Tests; Test Construction; *Test Validity Identifiers: *Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale Fourth Edition

EJ454456 EC604597
Parents vs. Theorists: Dealing with the Exceptionally Gifted.
Tolan, Stephanie S.
Roeper Review, v15 n1 p14-18 Sep 1992
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR93
This paper explores the fundamental rift between parents raising exceptionally gifted children and theorists who dismiss this population as "statistically insignificant." The role of intelligence tests in identifying the highly unusual mind is examined. The paper concludes that exceptionally gifted children are suffering intellectual malnourishment.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; *Intervention; *Student Needs; Theories Identifiers: *Extremely Gifted

ED334732 EC300467
Instrument Use in the Identification of Gifted and Talented Children.
Hunsaker, Scott L.; And Others
National Research Center on the Gifted Talented, Charlottesville, VA. 20 Jun 1991
63p.; Paper presented at the Meeting of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program Grant Recipients
(Washington, DC, June 20, 1991).
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEDEC91
Information was solicited through mass mailings to school districts concerning their definitions of gifted and talented, the instruments they use to identify gifted and talented students, and the underserved populations they seek to serve. This report is based on information from 542 files, representing approximately 10% of the mass mailing. Results indicate the following: (1) the U.S. Office of Education definition of gifted is used by 73% of school districts, followed by use of an intelligence quotient definition by 15% and the Three-Ring definition by 11%; (2) there is still an over-reliance on the general intellectual aptitude construct; (3) a high number of districts measure general intellectual aptitude by means of academic achievement tests; and (4) in the measurement of creativity, there is a prevalence of an ideation construct and the use of intelligence and achievement tests. The paper concludes that the gap between what is considered appropriate practice for gifted identification and actual practice is still extensive. Some attention is being paid to the needs of a general racial/ethnic category, but little is being done with regard to specific populations--few districts consider the needs of limited English speakers, low socioeconomic status students, or students with handicapping conditions. The paper includes 4 references and 15 tables. Appendices provide a data coding guide and recording form.
Descriptors: Ability Identification; Achievement Tests; Aptitude Tests; Creativity; Definitions; Educational Diagnosis; Educational Practices; Elementary Secondary Education; Ethnic Groups; *Evaluation Methods; *Gifted; Gifted Disabled; Gifted Disadvantaged; Intelligence Tests; Limited English Speaking; National Surveys; Racial Factors; Student Evaluation; *Talent; *Talent Identification; Tests

EJ415046 EC231710
Relationships between Scores of Gifted Students on Stanford-Binet IV and the SRA Educational Ability Series.
Carvajal, Howard; McKnab, Paul
Gifted Child Quarterly, v34 n2 p80-82 Spr 1990
ISSN: 0016-9862
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJFEB91
Target Audience: Researchers
Fifty gifted students, aged 9-17, were tested with the gifted identification battery from Stanford-Binet IV and the SRA Educational Ability Series (EAS). The EAS was found to be a feasible test for screening gifted students. The discrepancies between the standard scores of the two tests were low and favored the EAS.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted; *Intelligence Tests; *Screening Tests; *Test Validity
Identifiers: *SRA Tests of Educational Ability; *Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale Fourth Edition

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