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TerraNova Test to Determine Giftedness

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 11 year old son, a 5th grader, received a Cognitive Skills Index (CSI) score of 137 on the Terra Nova national standardized test taken last October. His total nonverbal score was 98, total verbal score 91. Could he possibly be gifted? He possesses many of the characteristics of a "gifted" child. Should I have him tested? If so, what testing do you recommend? Thank you for your reply!

A: By looking at the full results list, you should be able to see your son's percentiles in comparison with other children locally and nationally based on his age and grade. The TerraNova is indeed an achievement test which some schools may use to screen students for the gifted program. From the scores alone, it may be unjust to determine potential giftedness. Having said that, if you feel that he has demonstrated many of the characteristics linked to giftedness, you are probably right in believing that he may be gifted. Then, testing would be appropriate if you feel that he should be in a gifted program that would cater to his needs.

If your son is enrolled in a public school, you should contact his school to find out if he can be referred for testing by the school psychologist, if they have one. The psychologist would then be able to advise on which test may be appropriate. Regardless of whether the school has a gifted program or not, it may be good to have him tested as the results can be very helpful to the school (and for parents) in planning his educational experiences.

If the school has a gifted program, you must bear in mind that if your son does not qualify for a gifted program, that does not mean he is not gifted. Different schools have different procedures in screening students for gifted programs. Most schools use intelligence tests as the primary measure to assess giftedness (usually with a minimum score of 130) , but they may also take into account other factors such as performance in the classroom, achievement test scores, recommendations by parent or teacher, leadership qualities, creativity, or talent in a specific area. Therefore, it is best for you to discuss with his teachers for the best educational opportunities to help him develop his potential. Good luck!


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