Any parent or educator will agree that each and every child has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. In our office, we frequently see children who are quite advanced compared to their same-aged peers in a number of ways. Parents of these children frequently ask for them to be assessed to determine if the child is “Gifted”. Giftedness can be defined a number of ways. From a Psychological perspective, it is not a diagnosis as it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), the manual used by Psychologists to diagnose and identify people’s mental health, intellectual, and learning issues.
The Ontario Ministry of Education defines giftedness as, “an unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated." The Association for Bright Children of Ontario defines a bright child as “one who has the potential for unusual accomplishment in any of several areas, including intellectual and creative ability, musical, artistic and athletic performance and social and leadership skills”. Though helpful, these definitions are very broad and can certainly describe a vast number of children. As a result, school boards across Ontario have had to develop their own individual definitions based on the needs of their communities.
Many School Boards including the Upper Grand District School Board and the Thames Valley District School Board conduct screening with a group-administered intelligence test with all students in a certain grade each year. When a student achieves a particular score on this screener (typically in the Superior or Very Superior range), they may then go on for additional academic and/or cognitive testing to determine whether a Gifted identification or class placement is appropriate. Alternatively, these school boards and others require that the child receive a certain score (typically at or above the 98th percentile, in the Very Superior range) on a standard Intelligence test, usually the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (WISC-IV). This is the test used by most Psychologists, including Dr. Scott B. McCabe and Associates.
The Waterloo Region District School Board does not use any standardized tests to determine giftedness. Instead, they use a process of increasingly intensive intervention beginning with assistance in class, followed by participation in a one-day per week program, and eventually a full-time class placement based on how the child’s needs are met at each stage. A full class placement may not be appropriate for every child who is a gifted learner. To begin this process, children are typically identified by their classroom teacher as a student who may benefit from a Gifted Class Placement.
If you believe your child may be gifted and would like more information about their cognitive abilities, feel free to contact our office at 519-880-2178 and speak to Cheryl about having a psychoeducational assessment completed with your child.