Testing for Giftedness

Parent Q&A

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  • My 10y/o son is a bright, quirky guy. He likes to talk about the philosophy of prisons, politics, chemistry, and nuclear power. He has no friends at school, and has experienced significant bullying over the past few years (which the school is trying to address). He's only really made two friends ever, though has other kids that he plays quite well with and considers friends among children of family friends and neighbors. He has inattentive ADHD, used medication for 3-4 years on school days, but has been off for a couple months with some decrease in focus and organization but nothing extreme. He has an IEP for support around writing (both mechanics and organization) and previously for general academic support, though he no longer seems to need that. He also had a half hour/week of social skills group at school which he hated and I'm not sure really helped him much. As part of his IEP testing they've thrown in a little testing for autism, but he never quite fits the profile. His cognitive testing in the IEP evaluations always comes out average or somewhat above, but everyone who knows him (including friends/family who are educators) thinks he's a lot brighter than that. We've never shelled out for any kind of comprehensive private testing, and I'm not sure what it would do for him if we did. We already know he has social challenges, and picked a middle school with that very much in mind. We already have some pretty interesting dinner table conversations about whatever his interest/obsession of the moment is. He already gets support in school around some of his weak areas. Would we gain much of value by doing more testing to see if we can find the right labels to describe who he is? And if so, any recommendations about people or places to do the testing?

    hi ,

    I was wondering if you've heard about Crestmont, a K-8 School?  It's a mainstream school, but very much able to embrace and support a multiplicity of kids and learning styles.  Classes are small and there's just one classroom for the middle school students.  Bullying isn't allowed and there are weekly classes in emotional/social development.  There are some kids in the class with LD's and other differences like autism and they are fully integrated into the classroom.  I don't know if there are any places available in the middle school for next year.

    Highly recommend Carina Grandison for testing -- one of the top testers in the area who trains therapists -- 510-704-1820, carinagrandison [at] hotmail.com.

    Here's some more info --

    Crestmont School is still offering tours and accepting applications!

    Looking for a community-based, progressive school environment that uses a hands-on, project-oriented approach? Crestmont School is a unique co-operative K-8 school located in the scenic Richmond/El Cerrito hills. It was founded in 1969 with the goal of encouraging curiosity, critical thinking, and a desire for social justice, while emphasizing community spirit and academic excellence for all children.  Originally an elementary school, Crestmont now also provides an innovative middle school curriculum and supportive social environment for our growing children.

    We want Crestmont students to love school and feel enthusiastic and proud of their wonderful and unique sets of skills and talents.  In all subject areas, we encourage spontaneity, investigation, creativity, and fun. We’re committed to nurturing our children’s compassion, sense of community, and love of learning.

    Please come tour the school, meet our faculty and staff, and learn about Crestmont School’s innovative curriculum and the unique benefits of our modern co-op structure and special community!  

    Our final tour of the application season is Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 9:30am.  Our "late bird" application deadline is March 6, 2019.  Please email us if you have any questions or need to schedule an alternate tour time!

    For details and to sign up, please visit: https://www.crestmontschool.org/apply/tour/

    I am the parent of two 2E kids both of who have been tested. I  generally say that testing for Gifted/2E kids isn't necessary if you have a workable educational situation, and know that it won't change what you are doing for your child in terms of services. Unless your middle school option is gifted/2E specific, I suggest you do it anyway. You suspect that he's much brighter than educational testing has show, it's sounds like he's got a complicated educational profile. Gifted kids are often misdiagnosed with ADHD and even when they do have it characteristics of giftedness can exacerbate it in a typical classroom setting. We had theories about both our kids and were off on both. We thought our eldest had auditory processing difficulties and ADHD. Wrong. We thought our youngest was gifted without his sibs LDs. Wrong. Having evaluations changed how we understand them and how we help them.  We ad both our kids evaluated at Summit Center. I recommend them highly, they get quirky bright kids.  Even just having a look at their website, which has some really helpful videos, might put some of your concerns in perspective.

    Summit Center in Walnut Creek

    Hi!  It sounds like you are doing some wonderful things to support your kid. I'm a teacher and a parent, and I think in your situation I would go for it and get more testing, even though I know it is incredibly expensive for your family and pretty exhausting for your kid. Comprehensive testing would help you understand if his social challenges might be rooted in specific things such as speed of processing and producing speech, sequencing events, interpreting implicit rules, etc. One thing that's been helpful for me as a teacher when I have this information is that it leads to some more specific strategies. I've also seen that around the tween/teen age, it becomes important for kids to be able to express to their peers what is different about them and own it with pride, so getting a more clear diagnosis that you can explain to your son could help him advocate for himself and avoid getting ashamed of his differences.  One unconventional way to go about social skills development that I've seen work for a kid with a similar set of challenges was to go into theater. Theater is all about exaggerating the ways people communicate, and it requires a lot of focus and attention training in a very active, fast-paced setting that can be an easier place to practice focusing than a sit-down classroom. The right theater class could be a great after school community and skill-building activity for him. Good luck to you and your son!  

    UC has sliding scale testing. We used it a few times, and the reports were useful, and zeroed in on the specific areas of LD and giftedness -- though we weren't primarily testing because of that. 

    It was empowering for our kid to find out he is smart but has slow processing speed and executive function problems.  He was sad about not being able to get work done in a reasonable amount of time, and falling behind.  For him it felt good to know he is not lazy or stupid.  Just having the explanation of how his brain works made a difference.  We used Carina Grandson for the evaluation.  She is very warm and experienced, as well as smart and caring, and we and our child had a good experience.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages


Getting very bright 4-year-old assessed

Nov 2008


I read past posts about assessing gifted children, and about finding appropriate schools, but everything seems several years old. My 4 year old is attending a fantastic play-based preschool and is flourishing. The teachers have said he is extraordinarily bright, if not ''genius.'' That seems a big word to put on a little kid, but I'd love any advice about testing, if public schools cater to kids who may be above average, and any other resources people have found. As far as I know, he may just be a bright kid who has an unusually heightened ability to retain information. Again, any sites, contacts, school recommendations greatly appreciated. -Anon

While you are obviously a caring parent just looking to do the best for your child, I think you are jumping the gun a bit on this. As an elementary school teacher, I can tell you that your child will have PLENTY of testing and labeling as the years go by, to the extent that many teachers feel this labeling and tracking doesn't necessarily give us a full picture of a child's capabilities, and can end up inhibiting their potential and freedom to decide what their own interests are.

I've taught kids that were labeled as ''gifted'' and kids that were labeled as ''learning disabled,'' and while it's important to determine a child's specific needs so you can provide the learning strategies they need individually, I don't believe it's good to let the kids get too invested in their own labels. If you start this testing now and put too much emphasis on his giftedness, your child will clue into the fact that he is different, especially if he's always hearing how smart he is from everyone around him. This can backfire. There's nothing worse than hearing as student say, ''Oh, I do this because I'm really smart and need harder work, but you can't because you don't know how to read and aren't as smart as me...'' They aren't saying this stuff to be mean, they are just kids absorbing what they've been hearing. That's why I'm such a proponent of inclusion rather than pull-out programs in schools, but I'm digressing...

Let your child be a child. At four, children still need time to play and discover and blossom without us trying to ''sort'' them by intelligence. Tap into your son's interests by joining museums, investing in science kits, signing him up for specific camps that might appeal to his interests...etc, etc. That will keep him plenty challenged, and by the time he starts school, his teachers will have suggestions on how to channel his smarts. Just My 2 Cents

I got help from Lisa White, a psychotherapist who specializes in assessment of gifted kids. She talked things through me with me and pointed me in several directions including to someone who did an assessment and confirmed my almost 4 year old is gifted. Her number is 510-841-8484 x1174. She also does assessments herself. You can also check out Baywood Learning Center in Oakland www.baywoodlearningcenter.org Also, feel free to email me as I understand what you are going through. Rachel

Responding to the teacher's advice as to not ''label your child as gifted'' because he will think he is different from the label...

Please know that if your child IS gifted, he will already know that he IS different from the other kids (his age peers). He will know it and will not know why he is different, and often gifted children feel like freaks when grouped with age mates (rather then mates with like ability). So the label helps then know WHY THEY ARE DIFFERENT, and not feel like freaks. The more gifted a child, the more radically different he/she is from agemates.

Just as a sixth grader would feel weird in a first grade class, expecting a highly, exceptionally, or profoundly gifted child to feel perfectly normal in a class full of peers based only on age is crazy.

And Bravo to the students who ask for more challenging work--because they deserve an education that meets their needs, too.

Read A Nation Deceived and please advocate for your child; all children deserve to have their educational needs met, both those with developmental delays and gifted children.

For information on giftedness testing, please see Hoagies.org and contact the Davidson Institute.... Don't be decieved! Gifted Child Advocate


Where to get pre-schooler tested

Oct 2008


I read on the BPN about parents who have had their child tested for giftedness, but I couldn't find any specifics. Has anyone done this and can you tell me who to call? My child is not yet in kindergarten so I can't go through the school programs. How much does a private test cost and where do I go? Thanks! TC's Mom

Try Baywood Learning Center in Oakland. They have various options for testing. Another possibility is Annemarie Roeper in El Cerrito, a highly respected and experienced, longtime gifted child advocate, but I am not sure if she is still consulting. Good luck. paula

I would love to chat with you if you wish. I have a doctorate in psychology and I have taught graduate students about gifted children and how to assess giftedness in children. I have done it myself for 40 years.

I actually don't recommend it for a five- year- old unless there are other reasons for the assessment. A bit older is better for the testing. What I do recommend is that you get lots of parent guidance. Gifted children are at risk for confidence problems if they are exposed to high expectations, but can grow up to be quite happy and productive, too, of course. In raising my own gifted kids, I followed some very helpful advice in this regard, and have been thanked by my grown children for doing so. They see how their similarly gifted colleagues and fellow graduate students were raised by loving, praising, well meaning parents who attached too much meaning to their child's gifts. It is too easy, especially in the Bay Area, to view our children as ''report cards with shoes''. So if you can, accept your child's gifts as just that. And they are gifts which are wonderful but do not mark her or him as extraordinary. If your child is gifted, he or she has lots of company in the Bay Area. Chances are good that you, your spouse, and a number of other relatives are gifted, too.

A good education is crucially important, and sadly lacking in our schools, which is important to all children. The oldest and largest children in a class tend to be leaders, which is something to weigh if you are considering skipping a class. JB


Gifted testing for first grader

May 2007


My son is 7 and finishing up the first grade. I'm very concerned that he is not challenged at school. Thankfully, he's not acting up and I'm not hearing from the teacher that he's bored, but I don't want him to keep thinking school is so easy and then get slammed in high school or college when he finally finds things challenging. So I'm thinking of having him tested as a first step toward getting some resources from our GATE folks. The info on the website is 8 yrs old. Have you had your young child tested lately? Do you have a tester to recommend? What did/does it cost? Thanks very much.

You can test your first grader. Check through UC Berkeley. A friend tested her daughter, age 4 through the UC community. I do not want to sound discouraging, but most schools do not have ''Gifted Programs'' until third grade. In Oakland Schools, because they accepted ''Gifted Money'' they are required to identify the students. Because there are not enough resources for testing, most gifted students are identified by being in the top 5% to 10% of standardized tests. This means that children who have mastered the year's material and test reasonably well will be identified as gifted as well. If they are willing to work, it doesn't matter all that much because they are willing to do the work.

Now, I am not sure if all schools work like Joaquin Miller in Oakland, but there are no extra classes, field trips or specific educational activities for the kids who have been identified as gifted. No child regardless of outside testing will be considered ''gifted'' until 3rd grade and identified by the school district. Teachers are expected to differentiate the curriculum in the classroom. There are some teachers who do differentiation well and others who do not.

The differentiation difference is not more problems of the same type, but deeper ways of doing the same assignments. For example, one teacher has the kids in the class learning the three branches of government. The children identified as gifted put on a mock trial for a situation happening at the school. In earlier grades, children research a reptile or a ''big cat,'' a gifted kid could research the reptile or big cat and how Global Warming or cutting down the rainforest affects the population of animals.

It's a very frustrating situation because most people understand ''smart'' and think that gifted kids are just smarter than other kids. They do not understand that the WAY and DEPTH that gifted kids gather information is different from other people.

Mom of a Gifted (and smart) daughter


Assessing a possibly gifted 3-year-old

Oct 2003


My 3 year old attends several activities each week and many of her teachers have approached me, asking if she is gifted. I think she might be, but maybe she is just bright or a quick learner. We are on our 3rd preschool since last September, and haven't found anything that seems to fit her needs, so I am starting to think that gifted may indeed be the correct label.

SO... what do I do now? One of her teachers suggested getting her tested. What does that really get us, besides confidence in the gifted label? Does an official assessment get us anywhere with the school district when it is kindergarten registration time? I am already doing kindergarten-level work with her at home, so I can predict that she will be bored and unhappy, just as she is in preschool now.

We are going to try one more Montessori preschool, and I am going to continue to work with her at home until she is 5, but I need to have a plan in place for kindergarten time. Her pediatrician suggested homeschooling, but I'm not sure I'm up for that 24/7. Others have suggested private school, but I don't see how we can afford it. So I want to see what I can do with the public schools.

What exactly is involved in assessing a possibly gifted child? Is it a test? Or a meeting with a specialist? How much does it cost? If you have had your young child assessed, did you gain anything from it?

I've searched the archives and found some info on AnneMarie Roeper... she seems to be a true specialist AND she is local - is that where I should go now?

I'd appreciate any advice you can give! I'm stumped! not-so-gifted momma

I did not test my daughter because I really didn't want to know how a test would describe her. A pediatrician friend once told me that when parents came to him with very small children saying they were gifted, his advice was ''come back when they are 10''. In fact some children start out learning quicker and faster, but often level out when they get older and more opportunities are open to them. Do not give up on public schools, though. My daughter was accellerated when she was about 7at her teacher's recommendation - doing 2nd and 3rd grade in one year - and has continued to plow throught he most challenging of (now) high school courses. First grade was the most un challenging, but kindergarten provided enough new things, especially the challenge of making new friends in a much more diverse environment. (She still tells me how much she appreciates being in school with kids who are different from her).

In the meantime, offer lots of new experiences. Music lessons - piano and violin can be started at 4 and up, dance, art, museum, trips, and lots of books! I think it is important for bright kids not to be isolated, but to be around lots of differently abled kids who may have skills or abilities they don't. The hardest part of having a really bright kid was following your own heart about what to do for them. Sometimes you need to take other's advice with a grain of salt...mine included! her mom

Hi-- I grew up locally and tested as gifted early on in elementary school by AnneMarie Roeper (I'm in my mid 30s, so she's been around a while!). She's a great resource.

With regard to preschool, have you tried something other than Montessori? It can be tough for some kids and their respective learning styles. I know that with my kind of ''giftedness'' (quick learner, highly verbal), it would have been a disaster. There are lots of ways to be gifted, and Montessori does work for some.

Check out this website for some good resources: http://www.cagifted.org/

Good luck! --gifted mom

Berkeley Montessori School met the needs of my son (and the many other children in his mixed-age 3-6 year old class who were reading). The Montessori method allows each child to progress at his or her own level, and a good Montessori teacher can give gifted children challenging and stimulating work while allowing the children to be in a setting with children at their social/emotional level. My gifted son is now in the 3rd grade and doing great work at Berkeley Montessori School: he is happy, loves learning, loves his class, and is not bored at all. So I believe that Montessori schools can be a great option for a gifted child. -Happy parent