Assessment and Identification of Gifted Students

Assessment and Identification of Gifted Students

The Ohio Department of Education has received several inquiries regarding managing the legal requirements for gifted assessments, notification and service. In particular, requirements pertaining to students' screening for giftedness are a concern, while schools are attempting to maximize instructional time. This document is intended to provide practical advice on this issue.

Legal Intention: 

The intention of the law is to be diligent about identifying giftedness in any child. As schools and districts contemplate their approach to gifted assessment, they should keep the intent of this law in mind.

Current Requirement: 

The current law requires that public school districts provide two opportunities per year to test any student in grades K-12 recommended for gifted identification by parents, teachers or other students. For initial referrals and transfer students, districts have 90 days to assess students from the date of referral. For all other students, districts have maximum flexibility to schedule assessments anytime during the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, the gifted operating standards require districts to conduct whole-grade screenings, which test all students for gifted identification at one grade level in the K-2 grade band and one grade level in the 3-6 grade band. These whole-grade screenings must cover four specific identification areas: Superior Cognitive Ability, Specific Academic Ability in Math, Reading/Writing and Creative Thinking Ability.

Advice Regarding Flexibility:

While state laws and regulations are designed to protect students from under-identification of gifted students or over-identification, reasonable flexibility can be exercised. The following considerations may assist districts in meeting program requirements.
  • Time and place: Assessments do not have to be administered in the school building or during regular school hours or normal instructional hours. For example, to mitigate the loss of instructional time when a hybrid or remote learning approach is used, districts could schedule testing during a time and day when students are not otherwise scheduled to be physically in the building, including off days, evenings and weekends. Districts will want to offer student assessment options if parents or guardians cannot bring their children to district-scheduled evaluations.
For individual referrals, districts should make a reasonable effort to complete initial referrals and referrals of transfer students within 90 days of the date the referral is received. Districts have flexibility in extending whole-grade screenings for the school year over extended periods of time if completed by the end of the school year. For example, districts do not have to administer all required assessments in the same month or time of year (for example, fall). Districts can space out these assessments over several months during the school year. Similarly, assessments may allow districts to administer particular batteries or subtests over a period of time. Districts will want to refer to assessment technical manuals to ensure proper timing for administration.
Districts also have flexibility in how the whole-grade screenings are administered. For example, districts could opt to screen one grade level for specific academic ability within the same grade band and another grade level for a different area, such as superior cognitive ability. If districts choose this option, they will still need to ensure all students are screened in the four required areas at least once in each grade band.
  • Administration of assessmentsDistricts have flexibility in how gifted assessments may be administered if the evaluator being used meets the state and publisher's testing requirements (districts will want to refer to the publisher's technical and administration manual). To minimize impact to instructional time, districts may consider utilizing staff members qualified to administer assessments other than general education classroom teachers. This might include gifted education personnel or other staff qualified per the assessment’s technical manual.
  • Strategic selection of approved assessments: Districts also should strategically review the types of approved assessments utilized that can be applied to multiple identification areas or other requirements, such as the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. This review may assist the district in minimizing any loss of instructional time. For example, some achievement tests also are approved for the identification of superior cognitive ability thus meeting three of the four required identification areas for whole-grade screening. Under this scenario, districts can use teacher-completed checklists of creative behaviors to screen all students for creative thinking. These assessments do not require students to sit for a test. The district would then need to administer cognitive assessments only for students meeting qualifying thresholds on these checklists. To learn more about strategic selection of approved assessments, districts can review the guidance document, Implementing Whole-Grade Screenings.
  • Strategic use of evidence to support referrals: Districts can use evidence such as prior-year assessments, current-year demonstrations of knowledge of learning, or teacher professional judgment based on demonstrations of learning when referring students for gifted testing. Districts also can use assessments approved for pre-screening, such as STAR, to make gifted referrals. Schools and districts should be particularly attentive to the potential for giftedness in children who are members of population groups traditionally underrepresented in gifted education, such as minority students, English learners, those with disabilities or economically disadvantaged students.
  • Prioritize referrals: Districts may want to develop a system that prioritizes initial referrals and referrals of transfer students due to their legally prescribed timelines.  
  • Parent permission/parent notification: While parent permission is not required for whole-grade screening, parents may opt out of the testing requirement for any reason. Districts will want to follow their local procedures if parents choose not to have their children assessed. Parent notification of testing results and gifted identification still are required and can be sent electronically or per district policy.

Last Modified: 4/14/2021 3:48:06 PM