Ability, aptitude and achievement testing may be used as part of a sequence to determine giftedness, but achievement tests are especially valuable when utilised as on-going assessments. It is important to present students thought to be intellectually gifted with a test that is at a level capable of displaying their actual ability. This is called above-level or out-of-level testing. Therefore, if age recommendations are provided for tests, or if a test is available with a crossover of year levels the higher level should be selected.
Commonly used tests that can be administered by teachers include:
- ability Tests
- The Raven Progressive Matrices (Coloured, revised 1998; Standard, revised 1999; Advanced, updated 1998)
- Peabody Picture Vocabulary (4th edition, 2006)
- Middle Years Ability Test (2005)
- Aptitude Profile Test Series (1st edition, 2000)
- aptitude tests
- differential aptitude tests (used with older students).
Achievement Tests (both for Identification and On-going Assessment):
- Neale Analysis of Reading Ability (3rd edition)
- Spelling: Approaches to Teaching and Assessment
- Progressive Achievement Tests – Reading Revised
- Progressive Achievement Tests – Mathematics Revised
- Diagnostic Mathematical Tasks – Revised.
The use of anecdotal records allows a more robust picture of student learning to emerge for the gifted and high potential student. Both teachers and parents may be the source of these records.
Anecdotal records include:
- a teacher's observational notes
- copies of student work from previous years in student portfolios
- comments/notes from previous teachers about student work samples in earlier years
- pictures, videos, DVDs or CDs of student performances
- comments from parents about their child
- student journal entries or learning logs
- comments from other students or peers about activities in which they participated
- student self-evaluations.
VELS scores and student work products (folios, etc)
A student's performance on various class assignments, projects, discussions, work requirements and tests is recorded by their teacher/s. Teachers use this raft of evidence to make judgements on a student’s achievement against the progression points and standards in each domain of the Victorian essential Learning Standards (VELS). Comparing a student’s VELS scores with scores given by teachers of other subjects may alert teachers to peaks in performance where the child has excelled.
The use of folios and evidence from work performance (such as scores, competitions etc) is vital in talent areas such as the visual and performing arts. The recognition of a student as a musician, a poet or an actor is done primarily through observations of that student's performance or product. Often the performance or product – the musical composition, the poem or the monologue - is judged by specialists (experts) in the field. Evaluations by self and by peers complement the expert opinion.
Using VELS scores and ratings to determine giftedness
A child may consistently perform highly on the oral components in all their subjects but such outstanding performances may be overshadowed by average global scores and ratings. Conversely, comparison across subjects and across the year or with other years is also an effective way to ascertain whether any student is displaying a pattern of underachievement.
Caution needs to be exercised in using VELS scores and ratings or student work products as the sole determiners of giftedness or high potentiality in students. This is particularly true for secondary school students who may have experienced many years of being exposed to a curriculum inappropriate to their learning needs with the result being that they have turned-off, tuned out, become disaffected by school and even dropped out. However, care must also be taken with using the scores and work products of even quite young primary school children.
Teachers may also use a checklist to identify gifted characteristics in their students.