If a young person is identified as outstanding above their peers, or gifted and talented in a particular area, we may be left wondering the true potential of their developmentally advanced mind? Just how high could this young person aim to achieve?
Only two of every one hundred young people are classified as gifted and talented, yet there is no more varied or diverse group within the population. As such, identifying gifted and talented individuals can be a very challenging task. Young gifted and talented people come from every socioeconomic group and culture, and there is no typical pattern of characteristics. Parents and teachers can observe various presentations, including: boredom and a tendency to be easily distracted, behavioural and social differences, suspected underachievement, an insatiable desire for knowledge, over-excitability, perfectionism, and impatience, to name a few . Evidently, accurate measurement is imperative for this group of outstanding individuals.
Measuring the gap between achievement and true potential, in both academic and non-academic domains, is a powerful exercise that informs the most beneficial learning environment for a young gifted person. Identification can occur in a number of ways, including formal psychometric assessment, or informal measures such as: classroom intelligence tests, observational comparison to peers, or group aptitude tests. Selecting which method to use is dependent on individual needs.
Informal measures can be completed by teaching staff to identify a need to increase challenges, reconsider educational placement, and increase engagement in extra-curricular activities. Informal measures are useful to identify that a young person is performing above their same age peers, but they are unable to capture true potential. Formal psychometric assessment does capture true potential, and must be completed by a registered psychologist with specialist skills in educational and developmental psychology. The psychologist will provide: specific information to tailor education and accurately pitch challenging tasks through an understanding of individual thinking and learning styles, and recommendations for supporting a young person to reach their potential in both the school and home environments.
A registered psychologist will begin psychometric assessment by collecting contextual details relating to development, education, health, social interaction, and family interaction. Cognitive assessment follows with the administration of a standardised and multidimensional test of intelligence, such as a Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fourth Edition, or a Stanford Binet – Fifth Edition. These assessments accurately identify superior cognitive abilities, where an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 130 or over is calculated for the gifted individual. Cognitive assessment allows a psychologist to provide a map of individual thinking skills and identifies strengths and areas of opportunity through assessing verbal and non-verbal processing skills, as well as working memory skills.
Given the variety of domains in which giftedness can occur, a range of assessments measuring creativity, task commitment, personality and motivation can also be administered to supplement the findings of a cognitive assessment. These additional assessments are selected by the registered psychologist in-line with specific questions and goals that young people, their parents, and educators may have regarding specific areas of outstanding achievement.
WHEN TO ASSESS?
The choice to assess a young person for giftedness can be a confusing one to make. I would recommend undertaking formal assessment if you have the following questions:
- Does the young person experience behavioural or emotional difficulties?
- Does the young person appear to have lost motivation or interest in academic activities?
- Is the young person experiencing academic or personal problems?
- Would it be beneficial to know more about the young person’s strengths and areas of opportunity?
- Does the young person appear to be under-achieving?
- Could the young person benefit from early entry to school or access to accelerated learning opportunities such as a Young Masterminds workshop?
For additional information, or to secure an appointment for assessment with a registered psychologist, please contact Danielle Copplin at Scope Clinical Services.
M: 0402 778 243