Highly Able but Not in Gifted Program
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I have a 6 year old child in the first grade who is very
smart for her age. Most people who have met her are amazed
at her abilities from infancy stage. She was recommended to
skip kindergarten an go to first grade but her psychological
testing placed her in the high average category and she was
not moved. Her Terra Nova test scores placed her in the 99
percentile and she is far above her peers in most subjects
(even those in higher grades than her). Unfortunately my
efforts to get her placed in a gifted program of advanced
have fallen on deaf ears.
I am worried that she is getting bored (based on behavior
displayed in her last class) and is not being challenged
enough. If I continue to push the issue I am worried that it
will be assumed that we are pushing her too hard (when in
actuality she comes home and complains that they are doing
baby stuff in her class). What do I do? Which test is more
conclusive of her abilities, the psychological evaluation of
the standardized scores from the Terra Nova?
A: I can understand your
frustrations and concerns. This is indeed a rather tricky
situation since your girl is somewhat "on the fence"
thus, not being able to enjoy learning. You did not indicate
the test used for her psychological evaluation, so it is
hard to compare what the test was used for. Perhaps, a standardized test such as the WISC or Stanford-Binet would
be more appropriate to evaluate readiness for a more
advanced program. In a lot of schools, the Terra Nova
scores are used for placement in gifted programs.
What I gathered is that probably the psychological testing
deemed her of high average, but not to the point of being
ready to skip grades. Her achievement test score (Terra
Nova) is very high, suggesting that she has mastered her
subject at that age. By right, she should be placed in a
more advanced program. It is unclear as to the reason the
school is not allowing this.
Perhaps, you need to push this matter really hard using her
Terra Nova scores. It would be great if she has other test
scores to supplement your case (e.g., IQ scores as
mentioned). Furthermore, a discussion about her behavior in
class with the teacher may help the teacher understand her
needs for more challenging work, thus recommending a more
advanced program to the school. The school has probably
set criteria for admission of students into gifted
programs based on the combined results of the Terra Nova
and a psychological evaluation. What you need to do here is
to voice out exceptions to the rule. Present your daughter's
case and request that they investigate this on a single case
I believe if the school knows how serious you are, they
would do something about it rather than standing by their
standard rules. This may just work. If nothing happens,
another school that has an advanced program that she can
be admitted in may be an option; or even homeschooling if
you are able to or know someone who is doing the same.
Whatever the school options are, she probably needs to be
stimulated a lot and regardless of whether she is in a more
advanced program, she needs stimulation at home as well.
This is where you play a very big part. Challenge her with
activities that she finds stimulating and gradually increase
the difficulty level to keep her challenged. However, make
sure that she is enjoying the activity; forcing will only
lead to much frustration and eventually boredom. You could
even try networking with other parents - and once you are
out in the open, it is amazing how many parents may be in
similar situation. That would be the best support that you
Hope that helps a little at least. All the best to you!