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 How do I refer my child for an evaluation for gifted education services?

     West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2419: Regulation for the Education of Exceptional Students state that "a parent or any other interested person or agency may refer a student who is suspected of needing special education" gifted education services. Under West Virginia statute, gifted students are served in grades 1-8.

     If a parent suspects his/her child may be gifted (link to Characteristic and Traits of Giftedness), a written parent request for an evaluation for gifted education services must be sent to the child's school.

     When the request for an initial evaluation is from the parent, the following procedures are required by the county school district:

       When the informed consent to evaluate is received, the principal, classroom teacher or other designated individual is responsible for documenting the date written parental consent for initial evaluation is received and immediately forwarding this request to the special education director or designee.

       Within eighty (80) days of receipt of consent, the school district must convene an Eligibility Committee (EC) meeting to determine whether a student is in need of special education/gifted education services.

      An EC will determine that a student is eligible for special education services as a gifted student in grades one (1) through eight (8) when the following criteria are met:

    (1) General intellectual ability with a full scale score at the 97th percentile rank or higher on a comprehensive test of intellectual ability in consideration of 1.0 standard error of measurement;

    (2) At least one of the four core curriculum areas of academic achievement at the 90th percentile rank or higher as measured by an individual standardized achievement test, or at least one of the four core curriculum areas of classroom performance demonstrating exceptional functioning as determined during the multidisciplinary evaluation; and

Special Considerations

Intellectual Ability. If the student’s general intellectual ability score is unduly affected by performance in one or more composite scores, the evaluator may use, for purposes of eligibility, an alternate general ability index or an individual composite measure as permitted in the test manual or other technical reports. The evaluator must include a statement in the report indicating which score is the better indicator of the student’s intellectual abilities and the supporting reasons for this determination..

Historically Under-represented Gifted Population. Historically Underrepresented Gifted Population are those students whose giftedness may not be apparent due to low socioeconomic status, a disability in accordance with this policy, or a background that is linguistically or culturally different. If it is determined that the eligibility criteria and/or assessment instruments discriminate against a student because the student belongs to a historically under-represented gifted population, eligibility for gifted services shall be based upon criteria that complement the definition and eligibility for gifted as described in this policy. To determine whether a student demonstrates the potential for intellectual giftedness when the student does not meet the eligibility criteria as described in this policy, the eligibility committee must consider all data gathered by the multidisciplinary evaluation team. These date include, but are not limited to, individual achievement, group achievement, classroom performance, teacher input, inventories, scales, checklists, rubrics and parent information.

The following lists different procedures that the eligibility committee may use in determining eligibility of a student who belongs to a historically under-represented population. This is not an exhaustive list.

• A. Using an alternative assessment to identify giftedness in minority students.
• B. Using a matrix to get a total picture.
• C. Using parent, student, and teacher rating scales to give added information.

The following flow chart takes the identification process from General Education intervention through development of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or referral back to the Student Assistance Team (SAT). .

Step 1
General Education or Parental Referral or any interested person or agency
down arrow
Step 2
Student Assistance Team (SAT)
Initiate initial evaluation for special education and related services when warranted;
Within five days prior written notice (PWN) of decision to evaluate or not to evaluate and Procedural Safeguards sent to parent
down arrow
Step 3
Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MDET)
Obtain parental consent to evaluate (SAT may serve as the MDET.)
down arrow
Step 4
Eligibility Committee (EC)
Within eighty (80) days of the consent date, the district must conduct a full, individual initial evaluation and convene an eligibility committee (EC) to determine the student's eligibility for gifted education services

Not Eligibledown and left arrow

Eligibledown and right arrow
Step 5
back to SAT
or Step 5
Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team


Looking for Giftedness At Home or In School

Although there is no “cookie cutter” formula that will guarantee that every referral will result in identification, there are characteristics/traits commonly associated with giftedness. Parents and teachers, who are excellent referral sources, can make their referrals more effective and inclusive if they are aware of the characteristics to look for in potentially gifted children.

The following list is not exhaustive, but several obvious characteristics are noted. Some or all of the following behaviors may be exhibited by a gifted student.

A. Exhibits high achievement in one or more areas
B. Uses a large working vocabulary and high level of oral expression
C. May learn to read early, often before entering school with better comprehension of the nuances of language
D. Needs less practice than other children when learning new skills
E. Shows superior abilities to reason, generalize or problem solve
F. Tends to ask “how” and “why” often
G. Sets high standards for self
H. Seems to have inherent knowledge of issues and ideas that are not apparent to his or her chronological peers
I. Usually responds well to adults and older children
J. Well organized and goal directed; looked upon as a leader
K. Can draw inferences from both verbal and nonverbal cues
L. Generates multiple solutions to problems
M. Tends to be intensely focused on areas of interest (such as sports, dinosaurs, music lyrics, and space exploration)
N. Can concentrate and work independently for long periods of time
O. Shows social poise or an ability to communicate with adults in a mature way
P. Has an aptitude for logic, spotting inconsistencies quickly

Critical Characteristics of the Gifted Learner On Which Differentiation Is Based

* Precocity

* Complexity

* Intensity

* Creative

* Conceptual

* Perfectionistic             (Joyce Van-Tassel Baska 2003)

Exceptional intellectual abilities that evidence outstanding capability are demonstrated in a variety of behaviors. Areas such as age, gender, culture, race, and economic status impact upon the manifestation of these abilities. At times, some of these behaviors may be viewed as negative. The following chart notes the broad manifestations of giftedness and how characteristics can be viewed as both positive and negative. These characteristics are common but not universal.

Gifted Behaviors: Positive and Negative
Observable Behaviors Exhibited Positively
Observable Behaviors Exhibited Negatively
FLUENCY Generates many solutions to problems Dominates others; may have
difficulty bringing task to closure
FLEXIBILITY Has a high tolerance for ambiguity Is impatient with details or
ORIGINALITY/ IMAGINATION Is able to express ideas in unique and unusual ways; Uses fun and fancy to enhance learning Is considered “silly” or “weird” by peers and teachers; May refuse to accept authority; May not conform
ELABORATION Is able to add detail beyond expectations Uses descriptive details in excess
CURIOSITY Is intensely interested in a wide variety of things; Asks many questions Interrupts or ignores class activities to pursue individual interests
KNOWLEDGE Has unusually wide range of knowledge for his/her age and is able to conceptualize at advanced level. Is intolerant of others and seems to “show off”
PERFECTIONISM Produces work that is always correct Does not finish or submit any work if he/she doesn’t consider it perfect
SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS Relates positively to peers, older students and adults Has difficulty relating to chronological-age peers
HIGH SKILL LEVEL Masters new skills and concepts very quickly Becomes disinterested with repetitive tasks; may refuse to do work “already knows”

The Historically Underrepresented Gifted Population

Gifted students are not a homogeneous group. The array of talents and levels of physical, social, and emotional development varies extensively. Consequently, the behaviors of these students in the classroom may be quite diverse. These students are not automatically the high achievers, the most attentive, or the most cooperative in terms of task completion and compliance in the classroom. This is particularly true of the historically underrepresented students (HUGS), whose giftedness may be latent or just beginning to emerge.

Many West Virginia students come from backgrounds that are “culturally or linguistically” different from the backgrounds of the normed population for standardized tests. Students from single-parent families, low socio-economic status, uneducated households, and some racial minorities have historically under-performed the white, middle-class student from a highly educated family. Research suggests that this situation exists because students in educated house -holds have “environmental opportunities and experiences that foster and encourage skills and academic performance to a level higher than students who don’t have such opportunities” (Slocumb and Payne, RFT Publishing, 2001, p 20).

For students from the population that has been historically underrepresented as identified gifted, the mainstream checklist items often become irrelevant.

Characteristics of Potentially Gifted Students
From Historically Underrepresented Populations

A. Verbal fluency and spontaneity may not be evident within the classroom.
B. Performance shows weakness in school knowledge and vocabulary.
C. Attendance is irregular.
D. Achievement is at or below expected grade level.
E. Parents may not be aware of their children’s gifted potential.
F. Student seems alienated and isolated from teachers and classmates.
G. There is an obvious disparity between academic and standardized test performances.
H. Student is impatient with drill and practice, which could result in gaps in basic skills.
I. Student’s predominate social group is not a part of the school program. Students may socialize with others who have problems in behavior or underachievement.
J. Peer acceptance is more important than scholastic achievement.
K. Attendance record shows transience in elementary school.
L. Student exhibits poor work habits.
M. Student’s environmental experiences are limited.
N. Interest in and enjoyment of reading material may not be evident..
O. Poor test performance is not uncommon.
P. Student shows evidence of poor self esteem.
Q. Student may show an intense interest in one area, such as music or sports.
R. Peers outside school perceive student to be a leader (teams, gangs, etc.)

Additional Resources

West Virginia State Board Policies (Policy 2419)

Slocumb, Paul D. and Payne, Ruby K. (2000). Removing the Mask: Giftedness in Poverty, RFT Publishing Co., P.O. Box 727, Highlands, TX 77562

Van Tassel Baska, Joyce (2003) Content-Based Curriculum for High-Ability Learners, Prufrock Press, Inc., Waco, TX p. 16

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

National Research Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development