Assessments & Body of Evidence

Updated on Tue, 10/10/2017 - 9:53am

Gifted identification decisions are usually made by gathering an entire Body of Evidence.  A variety of assessments, rating scales and portfolio pieces can be added to a student’s Body of Evidence, which can include:

Cognitive Tests

There are two forms of Cognitive Tests:

  • Group-Administered Cognitive Tests: are often done with other students (though they may be done individually) by a trained school staff member (teacher, coordinator, etc.)  The most commonly-used tests in our district are the CogAT, the NNAT non-verbal test and the Torrance Test of Creativity.  These are not IQ tests, but they do test cognitive ability which can correlate to IQ.

  • Individually Administered IQ Tests: are done one-on-one with a licensed school psychologist trained in such assessments.  These give an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score.  The most commonly used tests in our district are the Wechsler tests: the WPPSI for Pre-K to 2nd grade, and the WISC for grades 3 – 12.

For more information about the above, including testing terminology, percentile scores and administration, please see the CogAT Report to Parents or the Guide to Interpreting Cognitive Tests.

Academic Achievement

These usually take the form of standardized tests administered by schools.  In Adams 12 Five Star Schools, the most common are:

  • NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), an interim assessment usually given at different intervals each school year.  Qualifying scores are usually at or above the 95th percentile.

  • Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) is the state’s large scale assessment designed to measure student performance in the Colorado Academic Standards in Science (grades 5, 8) and Social Studies (grades 4 and 7).

  • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are administered in Language Arts and Math each year in grades 3 through 9 (qualifying scores are in the ‘Exceeds Standards’ range).  Prior to 2015, we used the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) tests for this purpose (qualifying scores were usually in the ‘Advanced’ range).

Behavioral Characteristics

Gifted students often demonstrate characteristics that lead to a referral for the gifted identification process. Through the use of these scales, educators and parents can identify outstanding talent by observing students in one or more settings that enable them to display their abilities. Characteristics such as leadership, motivation, memory, reasoning, creativity and sense of humor become a focus rather than academic aptitude measured by many of the more traditional tests students encounter in school.

Norm-referenced observation scales are used as qualifying data for gifted identification. These scales are a valid and reliable way for educators and parents to evaluate gifted behavior characteristics. A commonly used qualifying measure in our district are the Scales for Identifying Gifted Students (SIGS). However, other methods of obtaining information on gifted characteristics may also be utilized to develop a student profile. Informal tools, such as an interview or questionnaire, can provide beneficial information to better understand a student’s strengths and interests. These tools provide parents the opportunity to give important input about their child during the assessment process.

Performance Evaluation

Gifted ability is often not measured on a specific assessment, but rather demonstrated through some type of performance. Identifying a student with exceptional abilities in a content area or a talent area such as art, music, dance, psychomotor, creativity or leadership requires an evaluation of performance. There are many types of performance data that might be utilized to develop a body of evidence. These may include:  

  • Juried Performance: Students often participate in events within school or outside of school that are judged and evaluated. Students receive some type of rating based on their performance. Data from a valid and reliable juried performance may be considered as qualifying evidence if the jury consists of a team of experts in their field. An example of such a performance would be a student selected for a statewide choral group or debate team.  

  • Contest/Competition: Many contests and competitions are available to students within school or outside of school. Top placement in a regional, state or national competition may be considered as a qualifying measurement for gifted identification. An example of such a performance would be a student finishing first in a state science fair or Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) categorical competition.  

  • Portfolio: Over time, some students develop a portfolio of work that might be evaluated by a team of experts in the field. The advanced/distinguished rating of a portfolio may be considered as qualifying evidence for gifted identification. A valid and reliable rubric is used in the evaluation of a portfolio to ensure consistency and equal opportunity. An example would be a collection of a student’s art work throughout elementary school and the portfolio being evaluated by a committee of district art teachers and local artists.  

  • Classroom Performance: Classroom teachers are often critical in providing qualitative data about a student’s performance within the classroom. As the curriculum experts, teachers can identify those students working above their same-age peers. Evidence of above grade-level performance builds a student’s profile. An example of this might be a fourth-grade student who has already demonstrated mastery of fourth and fifth grade math standards and has successfully completed all the pre-algebra modules from an online math program. Advanced classroom performance must be measured through examples of above grade-level work. Earning an “A” in a class does not necessarily indicate exceptional performance. Grades lack standardization and are influenced significantly by students' motivation, classroom behavior, personal appearance, and study habits.