There are several known benefits to assessing a child or student for giftedness. The primary benefit for educators is having the opportunity to find out how your student learns best. In addition to knowing how to optimize the student’s learning and bring out his or her full potential, it is often required to have an official assessment conducted to allow placement in gifted programs. According to the American National Association for Gifted Students, such test results can “provide objective and systematic ways to identify” gifted students, as well as a numerical way to “describe performance in relation” to peers (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”).

Assessments for Giftedness can:
  • Identify specific learning needs and learning styles (including strengths and weaknesses);
  • Allow giftedness to develop into talents if identified early;
  • Identify learning challenges that require intervention or accommodations (such needs may be overlooked in Twice-Exceptional children);
  • Provide information that helps parents and teachers recognize current and future needs;
  • Provide information that answer the questions:
    • Is my child/student gifted? If so, in what areas?
    • How does my child/student learn new information?
    • What classroom setting is optimal for my child/student?
    • What extracurricular interest is most suitable for my child/student?
    • Why is my child/student struggling and how can I help?

(Bainbridge, 2020; National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”; Shenfield, 2019).

Although formal, standardized tests are commonly used in the assessment and identification of gifted and talented children, it should not be the only tool used. Such tests can often be unfair to possibly gifted students who are English Language Learners (ELLs), have additional learning challenges or disabilities, or come from marginalized groups (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”).

The American National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC) suggests, the use of both testing and teacher observation as a, “way to ensure no gifted learner is overlooked” (“Tests and Assessments”). Researchers further emphasizes that testing should not be conducted any earlier than the age of 5-6 years old, as IQ testing is difficult to ensure accuracy at a younger age (Bainbridge, 2020; Cicerchia & Freeman, 202; National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”).

Tests & Assessments

Before conducting any sort of assessment for gifted and talented students, it is essential to consider the factors that may affect the identification process. There are several factors that may cause giftedness to go unnoticed in some students.

Some students may:

  • lack the opportunity or support needed to display their giftedness
  • have a disability that can hide or mask their giftedness (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018).
  • “show learning that may not fit with the conventional ideas about achievement” (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018). According to the Australian State Government of Victoria, these conventional ideas may be culturally based or a biased stereotype that can affect your ability, as a teacher, to identify gifted and talented students (2018). Common incorrect assumptions include: all GAT students are “geniuses” or all GAT students are early readers and good at math.

Cultural, background and individual differences may affect students’ expressions of gifts and talents. Some cultural groups, families and schools may even “discourage children from displaying their abilities” (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018).

As a teacher attempting to identify GAT students, it is important to consider these biases and differences to prevent an inaccurate assessment.


Informal Identification 

Identification of gifted and talented students may be done informally or formally. Informal identification can be used across a whole group as a basic screening or with an individual student where giftedness is suspected (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018). Informal identification usually comes in the form of a formative assessment such as: anecdotes and narratives, portfolios, information from children and their families, or information from other professionals (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018). A basic screening of an individual child can also be done by completing this Online Gifted Screening Test on behalf of your child or student (Shenfield, 2019).

Formal Identification 

Formal identification, often in the form of a test, can also be used across a group or individually. However, it is more appropriate when a child is older, moving to primary school, or already in primary school (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018). When conducting a formal assessment, further consideration of possible disadvantages or inaccuracies should be made. According to the Australian State Government of Victoria, “children may not perform on demand [or] children may be tired, unwell, anxious, or uncooperative on the day they take the test” (2018). Furthermore, “giftedness is dynamic and changes over time,” making it more accurate to obtain a collection of evidence over time (Bainbridge, 2020). The Australian State Government of Victoria also mentions that very young student, shy students, or those from diverse cultural or non-English speaking backgrounds may be disadvantaged by a test (2018). Other inaccuracies in formal tests may be caused by test ceilings, perfectionism, or test anxiety (Bainbridge, 2020).

Types of Formal Identification: Achievement Testing 

The most common types of formal identification are Achievement and Ability testing. Achievement testing “[m]easures how well a child demonstrates learning in academic subjects and tests basic skills such as the ability to decode words, fluency in reading and arithmetic, math problem solving, reading comprehension, writing skills, etc.”  (Shenfield, 2019). The results of an achievement tests determine what students have already learned and compares their results to peers in the same grade level (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”; Shenfield, 2019). These tests may be subject specific (e.g. Math or Language Arts) or standardized (e.g. SATs or ITBS). Most importantly, achievements tests do not have a ceiling (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”; Shenfield, 2019). Tests without a ceiling are tests in which students can demonstrate all of their knowledge without there being a limit due to a max achievement level. Examples of achievement tests that are often used include the Test of Mathematical Abilities for Gifted Students and Screening for Gifted Elementary Students (SAGES).

Types of Formal Identification: Ability Testing 

Ability testing, also called Intellectual or IQ testing, “[m]easures levels of cognitive skills and aspects of functioning in several areas such as verbal and nonverbal ability, fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial reasoning, and working memory” (Shenfield, 2019). The IQ or cognitive abilities test scores are used to objectively identify giftedness. This is inefficient in identifying students with creative, artistic, or leadership talents (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”). Tying into Munson’s 5 levels of giftedness mentioned in the previous section, the IQ test scores may vary across models of giftedness (2020). According to one source, the IQ test scores represent the following level of giftedness (Bainbridge, 2020):

When using ability test scores, it is important to also analyze the sub-test scores to identify twice-exceptional students who may have significant discrepancies between domains (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”).

There are various tests to choose from when looking to conduct an ability assessment of a student or group of students. Individual tests for students who are non-verbal, from culturally or linguistically difference or low-income backgrounds may benefit from separate nonverbal tests that eliminate additional variables which may cause disadvantages (National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”). The list of ability tests below are options summarized from various sources (e.g. Bainbridge, 2020; National Association for Gifted Students (NAGC), “Tests and Assessments”; Shenfield, 2019).

Types of Formal Identification: Additional Assessments 

Although Achievement and Ability testing are the most common, there are also three other formal methods of identifying gifted students when assessing early, assessing for twice-exceptionality, or assessing social-emotional abilities. Assessments used prior to the recommended age of assessment are called Early Developmental Assessments and include Parent Evaluation Development Status (PEDS) and Brigance Screens (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018).  Twice-exceptionality identification or more generally, Supplementary Psycho-Educational testing, is when “standard gifted assessment needs to be supplemented by additional testing of processing skills to determine whether a child has any specific [disabilities or challenges] that impact their learning” (Shenfield, 2019). According to the Australian State Government of Victoria, this is not uncommon as “1 in 10 gifted children have some form of disability or learning difficult” (2018).

Possible indicators of a twice-exceptional gifted student include:


The final form of formal assessment is Supplementary Psychological Testing, which includes”[a]dditional formal psychological assessment techniques, as well as subjective instruments including projective drawings and stories, are used to measure creativity and problem solving as well as resiliency, ability to access feelings, emotional control, empathy, depression, anxiety, and social problem-solving. [The results] show how the child functions socially and emotionally in daily life” (Shenfield, 2019). Such an assessment can be beneficial in identifying talents or giftedness in the more abstract categories such a creativity, artistic, and leadership or provide further insight into the behavioral characteristics of a gifted child (Australian State Government of Victoria, 2018)


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by room305 and Inclusive Education Class 2020-2021 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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