Giftedness, by definition, means a score at approximately the 98th percentile or higher on standardized measures of intelligence, such as the Wechsler Preschool Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) for children under seven years of age, and the Wechsler Scale of Intelligence for Children – Fifth Edition (WISC-V) for older children and teens. Gifted assessments are typically required for admission to a gifted program such as Westmount Charter School (WCS) or the Gifted and Talented Education Program (GATE) as offered through the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). Alberta Education guidelines indicate that criteria for giftedness consists of an IQ score of 130 (plus or minus five).
Many students who are gifted require differentiated programming and supports to meet their exceptional learning needs. Typical developmental issues faced by all students also are experienced by students who are gifted. These issues may be complicated by the exceptional learning needs and characteristics many students who are gifted demonstrate, particularly during adolescence. Students who are gifted may face a variety of challenges, including perfectionism, underachievement, uneven or asynchronous development, and learning difficulties. For some students who are gifted, a combination of characteristics may lead to difficulties with peer relations, avoidance of risk taking, or excessive self-criticism.
Students who may be more at risk emotionally, socially and academically include:
• divergent thinkers who suggest ideas that are logical to them but unusual to classmates
• creative high achievers, particularly those with artistic gifts, who may experience feelings of isolation or depression, and, as a result, may be subject to anxiety, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy or decreased ability to concentrate.
Common intellectual characteristics of students who are gifted include:
- Advanced intellectual achievement
- High motivation and interest
- Verbal proficiency
- Problem-solving ability
- Logical thinking
Perfectionism is a pattern of characteristics and behaviours that includes compulsiveness about work habits, over concern for details, unrealistically high standards and rigid routines. Perfectionism can develop at various stages of development for various reasons, but for many students it is simply a part of their personality, not necessarily the result of parental pressure or any other outside influence. Perfectionism can be thought of as part of the experience of being gifted, which can be used in a positive way to achieve excellence.
A Gifted assessment for Westmount Charter School is as follows:
A two hour appointment that consists of:
- A 30 minute consultation with parents to discuss background information and to obtain consent for the assessment
- One-and-a-half to two hours of testing to administer an intellectual assessment (WPPSI-IV, WISC-V)
- A follow-up meeting within one week of assessment to discuss results and provide reports to parents
A gifted assessment for the Gifted and Talented Education Program (GATE) as offered by the Calgary Board of Education consists of:
- a 45 minute consultation with parents to discuss background information and to obtain consent for the assessment
- Two two-hour assessment sessions to administer an intellectual assessment (WPPSI-IV, WISC-V) and achievement test (WAIT-III)
- A follow up meeting within one week of assessment to discuss results and provide reports to parents.