How does a student become labeled gifted?

    According to Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania School Code, a student is “mentally gifted” if they have an IQ of 130 or higher, or demonstrate strong indication of gifted ability based on multiple educational criteria. The gifted evaluation is conducted by a team of people including the child’s parents, teacher and a certified school psychologist.


    What is the appropriate age for gifted evaluation?

    Most children should be evaluated when they are in second grade or older. Earlier testing may reflect rich pre-school experiences which are virtually indistinguishable from advanced learning capabilities in young learners. Students may be re-evaluated each time their educational placement is changed, and premature identification can result in the child’s later ineligibility for continued formal identification. 


    Should a parent request that gifted screening continue if initial screening indicates that exceptionality is unlikely?

    Parents have the right to request that gifted evaluation continue with a full assessment of intellectual functioning. Most parents choose to discontinue the gifted evaluation based on the recommendation of the Gifted Multidisciplinary Team to avoid feelings of failure on the part of the student. Even many students who are recommended for further evaluation based on early screening criteria are not ultimately identified as gifted.


    May parents obtain testing from a private psychologist?

    Parents may, at their own expense, contract for gifted testing with a private psychologist. The school district will consider this testing along with multiple criteria, but is not required to accept the results. It is important to note that WSSD will take into account whether a child has been exposed to the same or similar assessments within a given period of time. If a private evaluator uses an assessment that a student has recent exposure to, this will adversely affect the validity of the results. 


    What opportunities are available for students who are not identified as gifted?

    Approximately two-thirds of WSSD students who are referred for gifted evaluation are not found to be “mentally gifted.” However, all students with a demonstrated need for academic advancement are eligible for curriculum enhancement or for acceleration. Formal identification as “mentally gifted” is not required for students to access academic opportunities that meet their needs.


    If my child has been identified as gifted in another school district and transfers to WSSD, will they continue as gifted?

    When a student moves from one Pennsylvania school district to another their GIEP remains in place until such time as the student can be reevaluated for services in their new district. A student who has been identified as gifted in another state or district will go through the WSSD evaluation process. WSSD will consider documentation from previous school districts when conducting the reevaluation.


    Where can parents get more information about Pennsylvania Chapter 16 and their rights?

    Additional information about Pennsylvania Chapter 16 is available on the PDE Gifted Education website.