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Using Intelligence Test for the Gifted & Talented Programme

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter (who is now 9 years old) was tested in kindergarten (at 6 years old) for Gifted and Talented services at her public school. She was given the WASI (Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence) test. Her verbal IQ was 156, her performance IQ was 123, and her full scale IQ was 145. I understand these are rather high scores.

Since then, we have moved to another state and a new school district. For placement in Gifted and Talented services here they use the CogAT test. She first took the test last year (at age 8). She had at verbal score of 127, a quantitative score of 122, a nonverbal score of 106, and a composite score of 121. She tested again this year (at age 9). There were slight changes in her scores...verbal 125, quantitative 117, nonverbal 118, and composite 123.

She exhibits gifted behavior. She has become apathetic toward her typical school work. She seems to tune out and works at less than her potential. I believe she is not engaged and challenged in school.

Our district has a Gifted and Talented School for 4-6 grades. My son is currently a 5th grader at this school. I think my daughter would do very well there. However, they use CogAT scores as primary entrance criteria. She would need a CogAT score (in any of the tested areas, or the composite) of at least 132.

I believe the CogAT is not the best measure of her intelligence and her ability to do very well in the GT program.

The district's Gifted and Talented coordinator thinks that the WASI score is too dated to be valid. What is your opinion of that? Would you recommend I have her IQ tested again. (I was told by the GT coordinator that they would look at other "intelligence reporting".

Thanks, in advance, for any help you can offer!

A: The WASI is a brief measure of intellectual ability which is said to be rather reliable and saves time. Essentially, testing professionals are able to get a fast and reliable measure of intelligence when screening for mental retardation, giftedness, or for other purposes. This test can also be used for reassessing individuals who have had a comprehensive evaluation and need re-evaluation. However, it has been suggested that the WASI used cautiously and a second testing may be possible for detailed scores.

There is a difference between CogAT & WASI. CogAT measures reasoning abilities that are critical for success in school. It is NOT an intelligence test. So there is a sure difference in the skills that are measured. The scores may be considered dated as it has been three years now. Perhaps a more reliable and accurate measure of suitability for a gifted programme would be the WISC-IV. Find out if the school would accept the scores from this test for admission into the Gifted & Talented Programme. Schools may not use it as it had to be individually administered and can be time consuming and costly as opposed to a group test like the CogAT which makes more sense for the school.

In any case, schools have their criteria and it is hard to argue especially between one test and the other. It would be best to retest her based on a test that would be accepted by the school. Speak to the G&T coordinator about this. I am sure if she you feel that she is gifted, the scores would be evident - and since she has a sibling in the programme, chances are that she may be suited in the programme as well.

Here's wishing you all the best.


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