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Minimum IQ and Screening for Gifted Program

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Rita Culross, Ph.D.

Q: My second-grader receives the highest grades, but he's getting bored with school. He was recently screened for the gifted program and received an I.Q. score of 122.

The school administrators told me that he will not be evaluated by a psychologist for the rest of the screening because the minimum I.Q. for the gifted program is 130. Am I wrong in feeling that he is being eliminated too soon? I really believe he needs more enrichment.

A: Schools vary in their identification procedures for gifted programs. Although intelligence tests are one of the primary measures that are used to assess giftedness, many schools incorporate more than one measure of giftedness. For example, schools may consider classroom performance; achievement test scores; parent or teacher recommendations; work samples; or indices of leadership, creativity, or talent in a specific area.

Unfortunately, many schools do screening in a sequential, rather than simultaneous, process. In other words, they screen for achievement or intelligence and then do further testing only if the child scores at a high level on the initial screening.

If your son's score is accurate, it indicates an ability in the Superior range, exceeding approximately 90 percent of the children in his age group. Whether that qualifies him for the gifted program or not, he is likely to benefit from some additional enrichment in his school curriculum.

If you feel his score is inaccurate, you may want to have him reassessed by a psychologist in private practice at your own expense. Child clinical psychologists or school psychologists not affiliated with your son's school would be qualified to assess your son's ability. If you are not familiar with any of these individuals in your area, you might ask your pediatrician to make a referral. Often universities or medical centers have such professionals on their staffs.

Whether or not you choose to have him reassessed, talk to your school about other educational opportunities for him outside the gifted program. Some schools offer magnet programs, specializing in science and math or the arts, and some teachers are most willing to individualize curriculum for children who need more advanced work.

Pursue opportunities for enrichment for your son outside of school as well. Children's theatre, programs at area science centers or museums, and summer or Saturday programs for bright kids at local colleges represent good choices for out-of-school enrichment. Don't forget sports, clubs and organizations appropriate to his age, and the local children's library as additional sources for enrichment. Let your child choose one or two of these opportunities as a means of keeping him challenged. Remember that it is not the program that is important; it's the learning.

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Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.


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