FAQs on Testing and Assessing Giftedness

Why do you want to have your child tested?

The answer to this very important question is individual to each family. However, it is a critical one, which you must think about and answer before selecting an examiner or an assessment center. Your answer to this question will help you identify who should evaluate your child. Some common reasons for testing or assessing a gifted child include the following:

(a) Testing for school and gifted program admissions

If you wish to have your child tested for school or gifted program admissions, your choice of examiners is often (but not always) limited to a list of examiners approved by the individual school or gifted program in which you are interested. It is also highly likely that a limited selection of tests (sometimes only one) is accepted for screening or admissions purposes. It is common for private schools and for some public school gifted programs to require the child to be tested either by their own examiners, or by a person who is on a pre-approved list. This is particularly true in New York City, which has a complex admissions process for both private independent schools and for public school gifted programs, and for the public highly gifted magnet school programs in other major metropolitan areas.

You need to determine first, before arranging to have your child tested, whether application to a private school or a public school gifted program is a viable option for your child, now or in the near future. If so, carefully check the testing requirements of potential schools and programs in your area to see which examiners and/or tests are acceptable, and exactly when the tests must be administered during the admissions process. For admissions to some schools and programs, there are only a few months’ window of time during which testing is permitted. Remember, too, that once an individual IQ test such as the WISC-III or the Stanford-Binet is administered, the same test should not be administered a second time without waiting a year in between administrations. (It is acceptable to give the WISC-III to a child who has already been administered the Stanford-Binet, or vice-versa, however).

(b) Testing because a child is having problems in school

Sometimes testing and evaluation is not considered until a child begins to have academic or personal problems in the school setting. This is not uncommon among gifted and highly gifted children. Schools are primarily designed to meet the needs of the middle 90% of students. Identification of and programs for gifted children are only mandated in a handful of states. A bored, highly gifted child may show his or her unhappiness by being disruptive in the classroom; by being fidgety enough to be referred for an ADHD evaluation; or by becoming depressed or anxious at home. Conversely, an otherwise precocious preschooler who was reading Little House on the Prairie at home may turn into a sweet, obedient, conforming child in kindergarten who pretends she doesn’t yet know her letters because she does not want the other children to “feel bad.” She may actually even stop reading, at least at school. Any of these scenarios is reason enough to warrant an assessment.

Some extremely gifted children also have disabilities that affect their school performance. It is possible to be profoundly gifted and also have a disability, including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or emotional or behavioral disorders (inventor Thomas Edison, author Helen Keller, and scientist Stephen Hawking are all examples of profoundly gifted persons with severe learning or physical disabilities). Disabilities can mask giftedness, and vice versa. Sometimes only an in depth educational and psychological evaluation can pinpoint an extremely gifted disabled child’s true ability levels, accurately diagnose the disability, and provide information that will lead to the development of appropriate interventions for the child.

(c) Testing to provide information for the family

Often a family suspects they have an extremely gifted child, but either no public or private school gifted programs and accompanying identification processes are available to them, or they disagree with the school’s evaluation of their child. Sometimes a family simply wants to know more about their child’s abilities in order to help the child in the process of growing up. Occasionally, the school has tested a child, but the child hit the ceiling of the test, and use of a test with a higher ceiling is clearly warranted. In these situations, a family may choose to have the child privately evaluated in order to provide more information about the child’s level of giftedness, academic achievement, the presence of any hidden learning disabilities, learning styles, etc. If you select the right examiner, one who has much experience in evaluating gifted children, it is likely that you will receive a very comprehensive evaluation complete with specific, helpful recommendations for both the family and the school.

Why should a child who is demonstrating signs of giftedness be tested?

Other areas of exceptionality in the field of special education focus on the importance of early identification and intervention. In fact, federal law requires schools and communities to locate, identify, evaluate, and provide free services to children with disabilities from birth to age five. Yet it is common for American schools to tell parents of extremely bright children “We don’t identify gifted children until third grade,” “These children all plateau out by third grade anyway,” and “Testing isn’t accurate before the age of 7 or 8.” Third grade and age eight may be too late for many gifted children. Profoundly gifted children often have very difficult early school experiences, which could have been ameliorated or prevented entirely if parents and teachers had had accurate information about their abilities, academic instructional levels, and social/emotional needs. Gifted girls may “go underground” by age eight, unwilling to demonstrate their precocious abilities in public for fear of making others feel inadequate. Extremely gifted children can also reach the ceilings of various test instruments if you wait until they are older to test them (some profoundly gifted children even reach the ceiling of the Stanford-Binet LM by the age of eight or nine). With any other exceptionality, we would not deliberately wait until several years of elementary school have passed in order to identify the exceptionality. On the other hand, testing toddlers and young preschoolers is challenging. Very young children at the ages of two or three, even profoundly gifted ones, sometimes react badly to strangers, need their mothers, have a wet diaper, want to play with toys rather than complete the test tasks, need frequent breaks, etc. Although tests such as the WPPSI-R, K-ABC, and the Stanford Binet L-M and Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition are designed and normed for use with preschool children (some as young as age 2), results are likely to be less accurate than if the child is tested when he or she is a little older, at ages four or five.

In general, if you think you have a highly or profoundly gifted child, it is recommended that you wait until the summer prior to kindergarten entrance for a full evaluation. The exceptions to this are the availability of a program specifically for gifted preschoolers in your community or state that requires testing for admission, or the presence of another compelling reason for earlier testing. Some examples of “other compelling reasons” might be the suspected presence of a disability; difficulty adjusting to preschool; intense cognitive, social, or emotional needs related to the child’s intelligence which the family and school seem unable to meet; or the desire to have your child participate in a research study. (Research studies often involve the administration of one or more cognitive measures).

When a highly or profoundly gifted child is evaluated just prior to entering kindergarten, the assessment provides valuable information for the family and the school about the child’s level of giftedness, current academic instructional levels, motor abilities, vocabulary development, and the like. When an assessment is completed prior to school entrance, it also means that every effort can be made to appropriately place the child academically and socially from the very beginning of his or her school experience. This increases the likelihood that the child will receive the needed accommodations and services in order to have a positive early school experience and will learn to accept, rather than hide, his or her gifts.

For older children, it is recommended that you have the child tested as close to the time you will be using the test results as possible. Children change and develop rapidly. If you need the test results to make a major change in the child’s educational placement or curriculum, you need accurate information about his or her current academic levels.

If your child is now in the middle elementary grades (3rd, 4th, or 5th), you may wish to consider having him or her tested with an individual IQ test as soon as possible. Ceiling effects on all the commonly used testing instruments for children are evident in most extremely gifted children, and many moderately gifted ones, by the ages of 10 or 11.

What are the differences between testing and a full evaluation or a full assessment?

Testing is part of a full evaluation or a full assessment, but it is not the only part. Often a school requires “testing” with a specific test for admission to the school or the gifted program, and in these situations the program may require or allow only one test. However, you are far better off to obtain a full evaluation or a full assessment if you can afford it. Typically, a full evaluation includes the use of a variety of testing instruments and methods of assessment.

What is included in a full assessment or evaluation?

A full assessment or evaluation usually includes an individual IQ test such as the Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition or the WISC-III; an individual achievement test, such as the PIAT-R, K-TEA, WIAT, or Woodcock-Johnson, plus one or more of the following assessment methods or instruments:

  • An additional individual IQ test, usually the Stanford-Binet Form L-M. The Stanford-Binet L-M is used if the child reaches a ceiling on several subtests on the Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition or the WISC-III.
  • Personality measures
  • Learning style inventories
  • Diagnostic reading or math tests
  • Creativity measures
  • Measures of motor and visual/perceptual abilities
  • Developmental questionnaire completed by the parents
  • Questionnaire(s) completed by the child’s teacher
  • Review of a portfolio of the child’s work in one or more areas of endeavor
  • Interview with the parents, child, and/or teacher
  • Observation of the child in the school or home environment
  • Review of any previous testing
  • Review of medical records/medical information provided by the family
  • Review of the child’s school cumulative file

A full evaluation attempts to look at the child from many different perspectives, and to integrate the information gleaned from testing and other assessment tools into an accurate evaluation of the child. From the resulting information, the examiner should be able to make very specific educational and behavioral recommendations to both the school and the home.

A follow-up interpretive consultation with the family is also an essential component of a full evaluation. During this follow-up session, the examiner will explain the results of the testing, including what the scores do — and don’t — mean. The examiner will also review with the family relevant observations of the child during the testing process, and discuss possible recommendations for home and school based on the results of the evaluation.

Who can test my child?

The answer to this question varies from state to state. Each state has its own rules and regulations, some determined in statute, about who can test children, where, with which tests, and under what circumstances. In general, licensed psychologists and licensed psychological examiners are permitted to administer any of the IQ, achievement, and other measures mentioned above. Licensed psychologists can also conduct counseling and therapy, while psychological examiners usually cannot. In some states, certified teachers conducting assessment as part of their assigned job in a school, special education teachers and consultants, guidance counselors, licensed professional counselors, school psychological service providers, educational psychologists, educational diagnosticians, university professors, licensed clinical social workers, and researchers are permitted to administer some or all of the assessment measures mentioned above. In other states, they cannot. In some states, trained examiners who are not licensed psychologists are permitted to administer many assessment measures, including individual IQ tests, if a licensed psychologist, who co-signs the assessment report, directly supervises them. In most states, certified teachers and guidance counselors are allowed to administer individual achievement tests if they have been trained to do so and if they have taken a course in tests and measurements. Check with your state gifted education or special education consultant in the State Department of Education, your state‚Äôs Psychological Association or licensing board for psychologists and psychological examiners, or review your own state’s statutes and rules for a definitive answer.

What qualities should I look for in an examiner?

(a) Experience

An examiner chosen to assess a gifted child should have experience in working with and assessing gifted children. Although this may seem obvious, most psychologists do not have significant experience testing gifted children. Information about giftedness is not a regular part of their scholastic training, and most jobs typically available for psychologists in schools, hospitals, agencies, and other institutions focus on children with disabilities and emotional and behavioral problems. Furthermore, federal special education law mandates that schools provide regular assessment services for children with disabilities, while no such requirement exists for gifted children. Thus, many otherwise highly qualified psychologists have little or no experience testing gifted children, since the bulk of their work experience is with children with disabilities.

To make matters more complicated, some normal manifestations of extreme giftedness can mimic other conditions, including certain social, emotional or behavioral disorders. If an examiner does not have both a sufficient understanding of the psychology of giftedness coupled with extensive experience assessing gifted children, it is easy to mistake some of the characteristics of giftedness — including physical, emotional, and other sensitivities; fidgetiness and/or negativity when presented with routine tasks mastered long ago; unhappiness in the school setting; incisive use of logic; and a preference for older peers — as criteria for diagnosing a disorder. Furthermore, an examiner who has not assessed gifted children with disabilities may miss the identification of a true disability, especially if the giftedness is masking it. Therefore, extensive experience in assessing gifted children is an essential criterion when selecting an examiner to test your child.

(b) Warmth and ability to establish a rapport with both child and parents

Establishing rapport is an essential skill for psychologists and examiners, and one that is emphasized and specifically taught in graduate programs that prepare examiners to conduct assessments. One reason this skill is absolutely critical is that the examiner usually does not know the child prior to the assessment. When the child arrives the day the assessment takes place, it usually is the first time the examiner has met the child. Some experienced examiners suggest that the child bring a favorite toy, project, or photographs to show and discuss with the examiner before testing begins. One examiner recommends, “Even if the tester doesn’t suggest this, ask if the child can bring photographs, a favorite toy, or a special project to show the examiner. This way, the child is invested in the meeting, and can “test” how the examiner responds to him or her. It is a way for the child to bring the examiner into his or her world. With this information, the examiner can also adjust the testing pace and style to match the child’s personality.” (E. Meckstroth, personal communication, February 28, 2000).

Skills in establishing rapport and trust are essential if the child is to be comfortable enough to exert his or her best efforts during test administrations. Like all social interactions, some examiners find it easier to establish rapport with some children than with others. Families may be able to gauge whether their child is likely to respond well to a specific examiner if they speak briefly with the examiner prior to making an official appointment for the assessment. Referrals from other families whose children have been tested can also assist families in locating as examiner who has good rapport with gifted children.

(c) Appreciation of human uniqueness and individual differences

Children and adolescents are usually referred for an individual assessment because they are developing differently in some way — intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, or creatively — from most children their age. (Typically developing children are usually not referred for individual standardized tests, though they do take the group achievement tests and state assessment tests that are administered to all children at a particular grade level in a school district). Most examiners are trained to understand and appreciate individual differences. However, parents should know that the field of developmental disabilities has long focused on the ideal of “normalization” of children with severe disabilities — in other words, helping them to live lives in as normal a setting and as much like other children as possible. While this is an admirable goal for those with developmental disabilities, it does not necessarily apply to intellectually advanced children. The goal is not to “normalize” such children — thus camouflaging their very high abilities — but to enhance the talents and abilities that are there and help them to find appropriate ways to express and use their talents to create value for themselves and others. An examiner who assesses gifted children should understand that “normalization” is not the goal at the upper end of the ability spectrum.

(d) Familiarity and wide experience with the test instruments effective in assessing levels of giftedness and academic achievement

Not all test instruments are created equal. Certain individual IQ and achievement tests in an examiner’s arsenal are much more effective in assessing gifted populations than others, often due to having a higher ceiling. On the other hand, certain tests with relatively lower ceilings may be necessary to diagnose a possible disability. The examiner you select should be familiar with the research literature on effective test instruments for gifted children, and should have wide experience in administering the most commonly recommended measures.

What questions should I ask the examiner ahead of time?

Depending on your individual situation, asking some of these questions may be appropriate:

  • What services do you offer?
    Many psychologists’ services extend beyond assessment. They may also offer consultations with the school, counseling, etc.
  • What is your background in assessing children who may be intellectually or academically advanced? Approximately what percentage of your practice focuses on this group?
    Remember, you are looking for an examiner who has broad experience assessing many gifted children, and who is experienced in assessing the full range of levels and types of giftedness, including gifted children with disabilities.
  • What types of tests and assessments do you administer?
    Most examiners have their own preferred battery of tests for each age and stage of development; these often vary from examiner to examiner. At a minimum, the assessment usually includes an individual IQ test, an individual achievement test, and developmental information gathered from the parent through either an interview or a questionnaire.
  • What is your experience with test ceilings? Are you willing to administer supplementary tests if a child reaches the ceiling of a particular test instrument?
    One of the major issues confronting those who assess gifted children is the issue of test ceilings. Exceptionally and profoundly gifted children regularly reach ceilings on many commonly used group and individual test instruments. When this occurs, it is often necessary to administer additional measures in order to determine the full extent of the child’s abilities or achievement.
  • What is your fee schedule?
    Most examiners either have a set fee for the complete full evaluation, or charge an hourly rate. Be aware that gifted children often take longer to test than other children. In order to reach a ceiling on many tests, a very bright child will advance into the upper levels of the test material. If your examiner charges by the hour, testing a gifted child probably will be more expensive than testing a child of average ability. Also, remember that you do not “see” all the hours that the examiner spends on your child’s evaluation. Although your child may spend only two or three hours actually being tested, the examiner will need to review and interpret test results and individual responses, and write a comprehensive test report that includes recommendations. Test interpretation and report writing take time, too. Depending on your financial situation, you might want to ask if the examiner offers a sliding scale or a payment plan. Evaluations can be expensive, so determine the probable cost and make payment arrangements well ahead of time.
  • Is a comprehensive written report, including assessment results, an interpretation of test scores, and recommendations, included in your fee? If not, what is the additional cost for such a report?
    Some examiners routinely include a very comprehensive written report as part of a full evaluation. Other examiners provide only a summary of the scores. If you want a full comprehensive report, there may be an additional fee. Be sure to ask.
  • Is a follow-up session explaining the assessment results to the parents included in the fee?
    Some examiners routinely include a follow-up session in their fee for a full evaluation, while others provide this service separately. Again, be sure to ask prior to scheduling your child’s assessment.
  • Do you accept insurance? If so, which insurance do you accept?
    Your own insurance company may agree to pay part of the evaluation. Check with your insurance company prior to contacting the examiner. Some psychologists and examiners use third-party payments all the time, while others do not, as they feel it may compromise the privacy of their clients. Some insurance companies, usually HMOs, only allow you to choose from a specified list of service providers. If finances are an issue, this may affect your choice of an examiner.

What should I tell my child about the assessment, and how should I prepare him or her?

This depends in part on the age of the child and your reasons for requesting the evaluation. Your goal is to have your child fully invested in the assessment process, so that he or she feels comfortable in the test setting, attempts all the tasks requested by the examiner, and does his or her very best.

For a very young child of two or three, it is usually enough to explain that the examiner has some special toys and games to play with them, and some questions to ask. Occasionally, a parent may be able to remain with a very young child during testing, if the parent agrees not to say anything during the test administration or coach the child in any way.

For a child just ready to enter kindergarten, you can tell the child that the testing will help you, the school, and the teacher to be ready to help him at school.

With children in the early elementary grades, you may need to be more specific, especially if the assessment was precipitated by a very difficult school experience. The simplest explanation is to tell the child that the assessment will help you and the school to understand how he or she learns bests, and how he or she thinks and solves problems. If achievement testing is part of the assessment, you can also explain that the tests will help determine what level the child is working at in reading and math, and if he or she needs different work. Since most gifted children do test into the upper levels of many tests before a ceiling is reached, it’s also important to point out that some of the questions the examiner asks will be really easy and some will be very difficult because they are designed for older students. Emphasize that you want them to try all the questions to see how many of them they can do.

Children in the upper elementary grades and middle school sometimes need a more extensive explanation. Depending on their maturity and the reason for the assessment, parents can determine how much, and what, they should be told about the assessment. Consultation with the examiner who will test your child is recommended if you have any questions.

If your child has heard you refer to the assessment as “testing,” you may need to explain further. Children in the intermediate grades often hear the word “test” and think that they can “pass” or “fail” the assessment. It is important to point out that these tests are not like tests you take in school that you pass or fail and which determine the grades on your report card. Instead, they are tests to help the school and family discover how the child learns best, and what changes might need to be made to make sure that appropriate schoolwork is available to them.

Do not, under any circumstances, “coach” your child prior to the assessment by presenting him or her with any of the actual test items. Examiners can spot a “coached” child almost immediately, even a very young one. If an examiner determines that a child has been coached, and the test results were to be used for an admissions application to a school or gifted program, a note will be made in the report and your child usually will not be considered for the program. Coaching is not only unethical, but means that the assessment of your child will be inaccurate, thereby defeating the purpose of the assessment in the first place.

What should I plan for and expect the day of the assessment?

According to one experienced examiner, “The night before testing, do try to ensure your child gets a full night’s rest. In the morning, if possible, give the child a protein-based breakfast, instead of a sugar and carbohydrate-based meal. You may want to pack a few high-protein snacks (cheese slices, peanut butter on celery, hard-boiled egg, etc. Protein is more likely to help a child maintain attention during a long test session.” (A. Revel-Sheely, personal communication, February 17, 2000).

Bring a good book with you; you’ll be waiting quite awhile. Expect the examiner’s focus the day of the assessment to be on your child, rather than on your own questions and concerns, since it is imperative that the examiner immediately establish good rapport with your child prior to beginning the test. (You will have plenty of time in the follow-up session to ask your own questions of the examiner and to discuss your concerns). If you arrive early and need to wait a few minutes for your appointment, the examiner’s waiting room usually has toys, games, and books that will keep a young child quietly entertained, although you may prefer to bring a familiar toy or book from home for your child. Most gifted children find the test experience challenging and interesting, rather than intimidating, as some adults might expect.

Are there any special issues involved when testing extremely gifted children?

Yes. These are summarized below.

  • Ceiling effects
    Gifted children, especially highly and profoundly gifted children, are particularly prone to “hitting the ceiling” on certain commonly used group and individual IQ and achievement measures. Some tests, even individually administered tests, simply do not have enough difficult items to tap the child’s true abilities. In some cases, a stopping point is never reached on the test, because the child continues to answer items correctly even among the most difficult tasks. In other cases, the child’s overall score on the test is well above the last score available in the scoring manual for students of his or her age, or the child has several subtests in the ceiling range (on the WISC-III, three or more subtest scores in the 17, 18, or 19 range often indicate ceiling problems). In these cases, re-testing with an out-of-level test or with a test that has a higher ceiling may be in order.
  • The “Energizer Bunny” syndrome
    Gifted children are, by definition, cognitively and/or academically advanced. To measure this advancement, the examiner must administer both the chronological age levels and the upper levels of the tests. On many tests, the examiner cannot stop testing until the child has missed a specified number of items. Just like the Energizer Bunny in the TV commercial, extremely gifted children often are “still going” on the test — long after most children their age would be finished. This may dramatically increase the usual testing time for a particular age child and test instrument, especially if the examiner began testing at the child’s chronological age level (the usual procedure).
  • Gifted girls
    Around the ages of eight or nine, sometimes earlier, it is common for gifted girls to repeatedly reply “I don’t know” to an examiner’s question, if they are not absolutely certain of the answer. (Boys are more likely to risk an educated guess). If an examiner inexperienced in testing gifted children accepts this answer at face value, testing may end quickly and the examiner and the family may have no idea of the young girl’s true ability. Examiners who have experience in testing gifted girls are aware of this phenomenon, and employ a variety of strategies to ameliorate this situation.
  • The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Form L-M
    The Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition replaced the Stanford-Binet L-M in 1986. Although the publisher considers the Fourth Edition a revision, in many ways the two tests are very different. Neither the Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition nor the more commonly used Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children — Third Revision (WISC-III) can tap the full measure of an extremely gifted child’s abilities. For this reason, a number of researchers and clinicians recommend that whenever a child scores in the ceiling range on two or three subtests of the WISC-III or the Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition, the child should be re-tested with the older version of the Stanford-Binet, Form L-M. In addition, Riverside Publishing, publisher of both versions of the Stanford-Binet, has stated “Form L-M is one of the few reasonable options given the dearth of intelligence tests with sufficient ceiling to assess extremely gifted children.”
  • Twice-Exceptional Children
    Giftedness and disabilities are not mutually exclusive. Many gifted children and adults also have disabilities. Giftedness often masks mild or moderate disabilities, especially learning disabilities and processing difficulties. Disabilities can also mask giftedness. If you suspect you have a gifted child who also may have a disability, try to locate an examiner with experience testing twice-exceptional gifted children. Occasionally a disability is discovered in a routine evaluation for giftedness, or giftedness is discovered when a child is evaluated for special education. If either is the case, further testing may be warranted.

What should I expect once the test session is completed?

When the test session with your child is completed, the examiner will usually schedule a follow-up consultation session with you, in which he or she will explain the results of the assessment. In addition, most examiners provide a comprehensive written evaluation report. It is typical in such a report for the examiner to provide basic information about the child (including name, address, parents’ names, and date of birth); a description of the assessment measures and procedures used; the reason for referral; a short developmental, school, and behavioral history of the child; a description of the child’s test behavior; a narrative and numerical explanation of the test results; a summary statement; and a set of specific recommendations based on the results of the evaluation which can be implemented at school, at home, and in the community.

What is the best way to share the results of the assessment with my child’s school?

(a) If the school, either through the gifted education program or through the special education department, individually tested your child…

School personnel usually take the initiative to arrange a formal meeting with you to discuss the results.

(b) If you initiated the assessment of your child and had the testing done privately…

You need to consider carefully if, when, and how to share the results with the school. Schools have all kinds of reactions to private testing. Some schools are grateful for the information, and use it immediately to make and support substantial and appropriate modifications in a child’s educational program or placement. Other schools may act as if they distrust an “outside examiner,” or may look upon the information as a liability, not an asset, since it usually requires them to consider changes in their established programs and routines. When and if you decide to share the testing results with your child’s school, one approach is to ask to schedule a meeting that includes the teacher, principal, and gifted education specialist. That way, all three parties will hear the same information at the same time, and will have access to the written report at the same time. Approach the meeting in a businesslike, problem-solving, cooperative manner if at all possible.

It is not at all unusual for a family to feel emotional about the assessment, the interpretation, and the test scores themselves, especially if school difficulties precipitated the independent evaluation. Many families find it helpful to bring a friend or advocate with them to the meeting. Many mothers find that the tenor of such meetings miraculously improves when the child’s father is in attendance. Educators and others often underestimate the emotional roller-coaster parents of all exceptional children — gifted and handicapped — experience when they first receive the results of a comprehensive evaluation and must come to terms with a child’s exceptionality.

Some families share the written report with school personnel ahead of time. You may or may not want a copy of the written test report placed in your child’s school cumulative and/or gifted education file. The cumulative file is your child’s permanent school record, and moves with the child from grade to grade and school to school, including transfers to schools in other locales. Whether or not to place a copy of the comprehensive assessment report in your child’s permanent file is your choice, if testing was conducted privately at your own expense. Usually, if you choose to include a private testing report in your child’s school cumulative file, you will need to provide the school with both a copy of the report and a letter specifically requesting that the report be placed in the cumulative record. Sometimes a school will insist that since the school did not do the testing, it cannot include a private testing report in a school cumulative file. You have rights under federal law as a parent to place or remove certain information in your child’s school cumulative file.

(c) If your child was privately tested and a disability was identified as a result of the testing…

You have additional rights under federal and state special education statutes and regulations. You may formally request a special education meeting to discuss the results and your child’s possible eligibility for special education services or 504 accommodations. The school will be obligated to conduct its own additional assessments of your child, but federal and state laws specify that the team must consider any privately conducted assessments as well. For further information about your rights under federal and state special education law, call your local special education director or the special education consultant in your state Department of Education.

Assessment, when properly prepared for and conducted, provides valuable information to families of gifted children. The information gleaned from a comprehensive evaluation of a gifted child can be used to adapt curriculum, consider alternative or more appropriate school placements, and access enrichment or acceleration opportunities that might not be available to the child otherwise. Carefully developed recommendations based specifically on the assessment results provide families and schools with resources, suggestions, and ideas which, if implemented, continue to benefit the child over time.