How do we determine if a student is gifted? While IQ (Intelligence Quotient) now represents only a part of the evaluation of students to determine if they are gifted, it still remains a significant element. The IQ test was developed a hundred years ago and has been tweaked ever since. It basically measures reasoning ability. It alone does not tell the whole story.
To determine if a student is gifted most states require at least three different tests and must include both quantitative tests (measures learning in comparison to some standard) and qualitative tests (subjective tests based on rating scales).
An IQ score of 100 indicates that a student is average. That is, in a very large age group, 50% of the students will score higher and 50% will score lower. When IQ scores are placed on a statistical Bell-Curve with a score of 100 placed at the center, or the peak of the curve, there is a remarkable relationship with the other IQ scores and the frequency of their occurrence within this group.
Looking at the bell-curve we see that students with IQs between 85 and 115 represents 68% of all students. Schools standard curricula are aimed at this group. All students above or below this interval require curricula modifications, and most importantly, the farther the IQ scores fall to both the right and to the left of this interval, the greater the modifications must be. Different lessons are needed for students with IQs under 40, 55, and 70. Different lessons are also needed for students with IQs over 130, 145 and 160.
IQs between 115 and 130 are the Advanced Placement (AP) students. Their curricula is slightly accelerated and/or made more rigorous. IQs between 70 and 85 is where Special Education starts to kick in and their curricula is slightly simplified. 95% of all students have IQs that fall between the interval of 70 to 130.
IQs above 130 are where the Gifted and Talented (GT) designation begins, so this means that this includes only 2.5% of the students. These students require a much more rigorous and challenging curricula just to keep their interest.
The higher the IQ score, the more rigorous and challenging the curricula must be. Few public schools in the country have the resources to accommodate students with IQs over 155. Only one student in 100 has an IQ of 135, while only one person in 1000 has an IQ of 145. There is only one student in 10,000 that has an IQ of 155, while only one student in 100,000 has an IQ of 165.
At the far left end of the curve we have the more serious Special Education students. And like the GT on the right, those students with IQs below 70 require even more curricula modification and special attention. Some school districts will go to or near a one teacher to one student ratio for severe cases.
But it is clear to those in Gifted Education that the Gifted students at the right end of the spectrum are just a vulnerable as their brothers and sisters at the left end. We just have not been as successful in exposing their plight to the general population, non-GT teachers, administrator, and our state politicians.
As GT practitioners will readily recognize, the numbers and concepts in this article have been highly simplified in order that the plight of the Gifted student can be better understood. To be continued next time.
“By…(selecting) the youth of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use if not sought for and cultivated”. Thomas Jefferson, 1772
We did not listen then. Will we now?
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Click on other articles in this series:
What is Gifted and Talented Education? (Part 1); Most misunderstood concept
What is Gifted and Talented Education?(Part 2); Potential is not same as trained
What is Gifted and Talented Education anyway?(Part 3); For what are we looking
What is Gifted and Talented Education anyway?( Part 4); Finding the hard to find
What is Gifted and Talented Education anyway?(Part 5); GT Education is killing itself
Gifted Education Writer