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Testing gifted students

In Minnesota, we have an annual testing requirement. Many other states have a similar requirement. For children who are academically gifted and working well above their grade level, this can be an exercise that feels like a big waste of time. If your child is a 4th grader who reads at a 7th grade level and is a wiz at math, the 4th grade test results won’t tell you much except that your child passed with flying colors.

A better choice would be to test using the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT). The typical pencil tests we’re all used to are ‘bracketed’ tests. This means that the 4th grade test will include material from one grade lower and one grade higher than the target grade level (3rd, 4th and 5th  grade material on a 4th grade test). With the PIAT, your child has no bracket limitations. Your 4th grader can actually roll through the material all the way up to her actual skill level. And it doesn’t assume that all subjects will test at the same skill level. So a 4th grader could test at the 7th grade reading level, the 5th grade math level, and  the 4th grade spelling level all in the same testing session. This also works in reverse. Some children are gifted in math but might really struggle with spelling. Even if some subject areas are below your child’s current grade level, the PIAT will adjust and still track other areas above grade level. The PIAT can accommodate all ranges of ability from K to 12th grade.

The next year’s assessment with the PIAT is calibrated from your child’s previous scores. So as your 4th grader moves to 5th grade, the test doesn’t simply start at 5th grade material. It begins where your child left off and allows the child to progress to the new “current” level of achievement. This eliminates a lot of testing frustration and busy work and cuts right to the real purpose of testing- to document the progress of each student from year to year in each subject area. The Peabody can accommodate academic skills from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Once your child tops out the Peabody (scoring in the 12th grade range) you will have other testing options, depending on the age of your child. The Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement can accommodate college skill levels and the ASPIRE (formerly the PLAN or EXPLORE test) can be taken by 9th graders and sometimes 8th graders for practice.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about academic testing for your child or questions about Peabody testing. You can also find more information about the Peabody on my website.

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