Identification of Gifted and Talented Students
When I was in the second grade, all of the students at my elementary school were given a special test one day in class. We were told that it was not for a grade, but that it was to help the school know more about us. None of us really understood what the test was, or what the school would use it for, and it is certain that no one in my class that day understood the implications of what those results would mean for us the rest of our lives.
The topic of gifted and talented education is one that has always sparked debates among parents and teachers, and recent movements towards totally integrating classrooms have added to this debate. For many years now, "average" children, gifted and talented children, and learning disability children have all been separated into different learning environments, for part of, or the entire teaching curriculum. New issues have arisen because of the recent trend of integration, but a few issues have always been in question when it comes to this topic. One of these issues is the identification process of "advanced" students, and specifically, the use of IQ testing to determine placement in these programs.
The test that I took that day over 13 years ago was an IQ test, a test to determine my "Intelligence Quotient." IQ tests have long been used as placement tests, and are used even today by many school systems to determine the levels of the students in their schools. However, a current trend in education is to try to move away from these types of tests. J. S. Renzulli has been widely recognized as an authority on gifted and talented education for a long time. In a 1996 article, Renzulli and J. H. Purcell talk about some of the new trends in the identification methods of Gifted and Talented students, reporting that IQ score is still the predominant feature in identification plans of most school systems (174). However, the authors went on to say that presently, 80% of states use identification definitions that include creativity, approximately 70% use definitions that include artistic abilities, and slightly more than half of states use definitions that include leadership abilities (175). Even with this recent recognition of other abilities, IQ test scores are still being used as a determining factor in most American schools.
Before the 1950s, most educators and school systems tended to follow Louis Terman’s example and based most decisions about gifted individuals on IQ and scholastic achievement scores. Standardized group intelligence tests, such as California Test of Mental Maturity, were often used to determine IQ. In these tests, educators were looking for exceptional ability in verbal or performance IQ, or a combination of the two. For the final identification, individual IQ tests such as the Wechsler scales and the Stanford Binet were used. Most school systems around this time considered an IQ of 130 or above to fall in the "gifted" range. This...