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Challenging Gifted Child for Higher Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My child is in third grade and was just tested for the gifted program, this is her first year in the public school. She previously attended a private school and we moved her because my husband and I felt for the past couple of years she has not been challenged enough. She scored a 128 on the test and my question is would she have done better if for the past couple of years she was challenged?

We have plans to have her retested next year but I just wanted to know because she is very smart and felt that maybe she would have done better if she were previously challenged. My thoughts are if you don't use it you lose it. I wanted to know if this was somewhat true.

A: Gifted children obviously need to be challenged, otherwise they may not develop to their full potential. Having said that, if they are getting reasonable exposure and learning, the scores may not be much higher. IQ tests differ from achievement tests as it tests children of cognitive ability rather than academic content closely related to school learning.

Therefore, I am not sure if she would get much higher, but with reasonable challenge and stimulation, I believe that her scores can be a little higher not significantly though. Giftedness is something you are born with. You don't lose it but if not stimulated enough, gifted individuals may burn out and "accept" mediocrity. It is best to retest her if you strongly believe that she has not been stimulated enough. Make sure the test scores are interpreted well to understand how you may be able to help her further. Good luck.


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