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A New School, Advocacy, and the WISC

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My daughter has straight A's in her third-grade Talented and Gifted (TAG) Program. She's been recommended for fourth-grade TAG, and has qualified for it through an evaluation by the school counselor. She recently got her FCAT scores and was in the 95th percentile. She reads at the sixth-grade level, loves the TAG program, and has blossomed in it. She is more confident and enjoys going to school and doing her homework.

We are moving this summer and I was told by the new school district that she had to have a formal psychology test, a WISC-III, and score at least a 130. Unfortunately, she cannot do this until after school starts next fall. Should I fight to get my daughter into the program? What is the distinction between "gifted" and "talented"?

A: The new school district wants your daughter to take a Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children — Third Edition (also called a WISC-III). A score of 130 is generally considered the cutoff between superior and gifted. I can only suppose the reason they state it can't be administered until after the school year starts is that the new school district is providing the testing. You should contact them again and ask if they will accept outside testing from a private educational psychologist. (This is their choice.) If they will, then have her tested privately before the fall term. This will help you in planning for her educational needs. Your daughter sounds like a wonderful girl. I am a little concerned that she has scores in the 95th percentile -- most gifted services start in the 97th percentile and up. (Yes I know this is unfair but that's how it is).

You also need to put together a portfolio on your daughter, showing all testing results, report cards, awards, perhaps writing samples, interesting things she has said or done, etc. This is not a case of deciding whether or not gifted services are needed for your daughter. Your child has blossomed in gifted education and she should be allowed to continue. I would certainly advise you to advocate on her behalf, and the portfolio will come in handy.

The difference between "gifted" and "talented" depends on what definition you read. The definition of giftedness has expanded to include exceptional talent in music, leadership, art, sports, etc. For most children, "giftedness" pertains to being intellectually exceptional, and "talented" pertains to exceptionalities in other areas.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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