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Will She Always Be Gifted?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Felice Kaufmann, Ph.D.

Q: My 3-year-old daughter scored in the 99.9 percentile on the WIPSI (?). Do children who score high and are considered gifted typically remain gifted throughout their school and adult years, or do they generally slip back as they get older?

A: Your question is a good one and is asked by many people whose children test in the upper percentiles at a young age. It is impossible to predict the future or know how your daughter will do on every test she takes throughout her life, but I can make a guess. These types of tests measure a broad band of abilities. She may be in the 99.9 percentile now but slip to 99.5 or 90.5 on later tests. While she may not always score in the 99.9 percentile, however, it is reasonable to expect that, unless an unforeseen calamity impinges on her ability to learn, she will typically score in the upper ranges of intelligence tests.

Whether she is considered gifted/talented at school is another matter. Sometimes schools use other criteria -- achievement tests, teacher recommendations, peer nominations, portfolios etc. -- in their definition of giftedness. So while she may score very high on a test of intelligence, she still may not be admitted into the gifted program. If this is a concern for you, you might want to check into the criteria for the gifted program at the school your daughter will attend or talk to the consultant for the gifted at your state department of education. Hope this helps!

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Felice Kaufmann is an independent consultant in gifted child education. Kaufman has been a classroom teacher and counselor of gifted children, grades K-12, and a professor at Auburn University and the Universities of New Orleans and Kentucky, where she created teacher training programs in gifted child education. She has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children and the Executive Board of the Association of the Gifted.

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