More testing?

Posted by: millersb02

More testing? - 04/14/22 08:19 AM

When you see a list of gifted traits, it's basically my son in a nut shell. He thinks differently, plays differently, and connects things that kids his age wouldn't be expected to, he loves concepts and ideas. He consumes books and stories at a rate that no one can keep up with. Wakes up early to listen to audiobooks before school. Lately, he turns everything going on in our life into a math story problem. The other day I set up a kids YouTube profile for him… the parental controls are locked, and an adult needs to unlock them by answering a "hard" math equation. He just answers the equation, unlocks the controls and resets the timer. He's like that with everything. Always finds the loop hole, defies authority, uses his abilities for himself and doesn't like to demonstrate or show off his knowledge.

I first suspected he was gifted when he was 3 and realized that preschool was not going to meet his needs at all. He was in trouble all of the time and was manipulating their discipline system. They were not teaching any academic skills that he didn't already have and there weren't any options for differentiation. (I understand that social skills are important. He can and does demonstrate age appropriate social skills when his intellectual needs are being met.)

I ended up homeschooling him for 2 years of preschool. Went to public school for KG, homeschooled for 1st (pandemic), and is back at public school for 2nd.

I have been able to meet his needs better with homeschool (moved as fast as he wanted to in reading instruction, gave him time for hours and hours of audiobooks, did lots of science and history, let him do multiplication to his hearts content).

I want public school to work for him… in KG it was always that he needed to get his behavior under control before we can look at him in any other way. He hated KG math b/c it was slowing him down... he knew the answers and didn't want to draw out a visual answer for every little equation. Reading instruction was too slow at school and he made little progress. He came home, worked with me and went through several grade levels of reading instruction in a summer.

In 2nd, his behavior is much improved... he's enjoying new math curriculum that's a bit more out of the box and creative, he is way beyond the reading instruction and is under challenged. His math sheets at school have elaborate drawings on the back because he has so much extra time after completing the assignments. He doesn't like to write and always finds the loop hole in the assignment. Spelling is challenging. His teacher says he's a leader in the classroom and I suspect that's because he is confident, outspoken and opinionated. His academic grades are good, but he gets grade penalized for behavior regularly. He does not the have the "high achiever" traits - he does not study school subjects hard (although he'll study things he wants to learn), he does not teacher please. He is OK at school, but definitely doesn't love it and would rather be at home. Our home life is pretty enriching after years of homeschool and that helps keep his needs met. - I read to him a ton, I work with him on reading instruction at a higher level, we talk about and do a lot of math/science/history experiences.

The gifted program at school starts at 3rd grade. So far he didn't qualify for gifted with the CogAT test. MAP testing will happen soon to identify for giftedness in Math and Reading. His prior Map testing isn't off the charts… but could be close to making the gifted cut-off.

From what I understand CogAt and Map testing are achievement based… which, he's not motivated by achievement and not a demonstrator of his abilities. He's more like a questioner or an out of the box thinker.

I'm just sort of curious how you other parents see this. What does this look like from your perspective? Can any one relate? I have the option to have him retested for "cognitive ability" through school, should I? (I'm not even sure what the gifted program is like and if I think it would serve him well. If he's not in the gifted program and because he doesn't require any intervention, he will probably have a "study hall" period during the day where I'm guessing he could read and may be happy doing that.) Or should I just keep doing what I have been doing and giving him enrichment at home? Maybe he's not gifted? I do know that he's very intellectually needy, he seems to be the happiest and calmest when he as a lot of information to chew on. Maybe intellectual neediness does not equal being gifted?
Posted by: indigo

Re: More testing? - 04/14/22 01:58 PM

I would definitely consider giving your child access to ongoing opportunities for testing... if your child rather enjoys the tests (as a challenge or a curiosity and break from the daily routine)... but not if your child finds the testing stressful (or a measure of their value or self-worth).

What a wonderful phrase, "intellectual neediness," a great stand-in for the oft-scorned word "gifted," as it may more accurately describe the drive for learning which these people experience internally and which is also often observable externally! smile I like that this phrase expresses an inherent difficulty, challenge, and uphill battle which these people may face daily... also summarizes their minority status while hinting at the solution to including, validating, affirming, and accepting them.

Absolutely continue to enrich at home, in whatever ways you are able to as a family. This makes home the safe space, the soft place to land, the place where your child is understood, accepted, and encouraged. This can be a tremendous source of strength for a child, from which they can build up their emotional reserves for dealing with negative situations which may pop up at school or elsewhere in life.

BTW, I would also talk about rules, the reason for rules in general, and whether certain rules are accomplishing what they set out to accomplish. I would also brainstorm on establishing rules, demonstrating respect for family rules, discussing loop holes, the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, being responsible for one's own decisions, being accountable, making restitution, and other concepts surrounding right/wrong, such as a well-developed conscience, fairness, and equal treatment. If a child is welcome to analyze and discuss the rules, they may be less likely to circumvent them.

You are not alone! This old thread may be of interest:
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: More testing? - 04/15/22 12:54 AM

If we are talking about testing, do you think it would help to get his IQ tested?

There are a many similarities between your DS and mine at a younger age, but homeschooling wasn’t an option for us, so I addressed his behavioural issues by giving him permission not to do work which he had already mastered and suggesting he find other ways to occupy his mind but also reminding him never to be disruptive because his classmates were there to learn. He absolutely respected this point which endeared him to teachers.

The key to our success was that even though DS was working ahead of, as well as outside, the curriculum, he only did so when he was absolutely sure he had mastered the contents of the curriculum, so he did every assessment task and nailed all of them which is why his teachers were happy for him to do pretty much anything he liked.

So, we’ve found that to spend most of his time outside of the box, DS had to make sure all the formal boxes were always ticked.
Posted by: millersb02

Re: More testing? - 04/15/22 03:46 AM

Thank you for your response. It makes me feel less like a loner.

I plan to have him take all the standard tests, but I’m not sure about requesting additional testing. As he gets older and has more maturity, other adults in his life see his abilities more. Maybe that’ll help bring him more opportunities.

Yes intellectually needy is the best description of him. Asynchronous is also an OK description and felt correct especially in the earlier ages.

I like your ideas about law/rules. I’ve tried many approaches to talking about behavior and I think your ideas might work for him. My most successful way in so far is to read/talk about philosophy. It feels ridiculous to say I’m reading philosophy to my (then 1st grade) kid… but it was the most well received way to talk about self control and his impact in n others.

Posted by: millersb02

Re: More testing? - 04/15/22 04:05 AM

Thank you. That’s a good way to think about school requirements for him. And I think that might feel logical and acceptable in his mind.

The problem is that once he’s checked off the requirements, there’s not anything left for him to do at school… he’s doing much better coming up with acceptable time fillers - he reads, he draws, he turns things into mental math…. There’s 2 hrs and 17 minutes til I go home. Did teachers allow more ahead/outside of curriculum than this with your son? It took up til the second half of 2nd grade to allow him to have a book at his desk to fill down time.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: More testing? - 04/15/22 03:37 PM

I should preface my reply with a reminder that I’m not living in the US so differences in policies may impact the relevance of my comments to your situation.

In the earlier years of primary, a lot of classroom activities were fairly seamlessly adapted for DS - for example whilst the rest of his class worked on multiplication sheets, with the teacher’s permission, DS completed these same worksheets in Roman numerals, binary, other existing number base systems and even in number base systems he invented by creating his own symbols for double digit numbers in our Hindu Arabic decimal system. The only hitch to this is that not all primary teachers are comfortable marking this sort of work, yet I think it’s good to always get feedback, so my son brought his worksheets home for me to mark - would your son have someone who can do this for him?

For spelling and grammar exercises, instead of using the curriculum words (there were three sets of different levels of difficulty so the rest of the class weren’t working on the same set anyway), he could choose his own set of (usually very obscure) words from the dictionary to complete the same exercises as his classmates (writing definitions, using each word in an appropriate sentence, exploring the origin of each word). He also reflected on the subtle differences between synonyms. In this way, at a passing glance, a visitor to the classroom would not have been able to tell that DS’s activities were differentiated and yet he was enjoying extending himself in many creative ways (like your son).

DS was also allowed time on classroom computers to research topics of interest. The teacher had a policy that anyone who finished all their work could access these computers so it didn’t look like there was any favouritism for DS, but in reality, most of his classmates didn’t complete their work within allocated times.

DS also managed to find a lot of ways to occupy his thoughts without being disruptive. At one time, from his own internet reading, he was quite interested in the theory that people with left or right hemispheric dominance might have qualitative differences in their thoughts, so he studied each classmate very carefully (upper & lower limbs as well as eye movements during thought) and correlated all of these findings with the content of their speech presentations. Most people probably would have just thought he was being ‘a good listener’ to his classmates’ presentations and not known that he was actually conducting his own higher observational research. He believed he figured out which kids were naturally right handed and which were naturally left handed but had switched, but never found the prize of his quest - the true bi-hemispheric individual which Einstein was purported to be. As I said, your DS reminds me of mine - I hope you find ways to help yours navigate through your system.
Posted by: aeh

Re: More testing? - 04/18/22 02:53 PM

Nice to hear this is, on the whole, a more positive school experience than the last one!

The CogAT is not exactly an achievement test, but of course, all tests are to some extent measures of one's experience. It has widespread use as a group-administered aptitude measure, with all the pros and cons of group administration. The MAP is definitely an achievement test, but one should be aware that it was designed as a monitoring tool, rather than a comprehensive achievement measure, and that, depending on what version is administered, the ceiling for 2nd graders is likely to be fairly low for a child like yours. In any case, once scores get up into the ceiling of any test, a couple of raw score points difference can generate a percentile difference larger than one might imagine.

As to testing outside of the school-based screening (CogAT/MAP), my rule of thumb is that there are typically two main reasons for pursuing individual evaluation, such as cognitive (IQ) or achievement (or neuropsychological, which typically encompasses one or both of these) assessment.
1. In order to answer a specific question or problem, including obtaining information necessary to design solutions. In the context of GT learners, some typical presenting problems might include disruptive classroom behavior, or sadness/school avoidance, or apparent inattention/distractibility (among many other possibilities).
2. In order to obtain access to a service believed to be necessary. Typically, this would be a GT program or school, perhaps an extracurricular program (e.g., CTY, DYS).

From what you've described, it appears that while there is not a glaring category 1 reason for testing, there is a collection of smaller questions that might lead you in that direction. A category 2 reason for testing would depend mainly on whether the GT program is actually worth being in for your child specifically, which would require a bit more research on your part. My inclination would be that, if there isn't going to be opportunity to find out enough about the nature of the GT program before the timeline for obtaining all of the required qualifying testing passes, then it would probably make sense to go ahead and do whatever testing they offer, so you have as many options as necessary once you do know how the programming looks.

Of course, this also depends, as others have noted, on how your child would experience two or more hours of testing (most likely individual cognitive assessment) beyond MAP. Many high-cognition children find it quite entertaining, as it's one of the few times they are allowed to take their engine out on the racetrack and really floor it. Others, who might have more performance anxiety or perfectionism, may not find it as enjoyable for the same reason; they might have the unfamiliar experience of getting some items wrong.

And if your child finds philosophy to be an effective way to understand a healthy dynamic for him in his community, then by all means, read him philosophy! Giving only rules to persons who crave reasons is not conducive to compliance--nor does it ultimately engender real empathy and compassion.

(BTW, I love Eagle Mum's little story! If he had tried to tease out mixed dominant individuals (vs bi-hemispheric), and also investigated the long-term stability of dominance through the primary years, he could have added even more hours to his interesting data collection process!)
Posted by: millersb02

Re: More testing? - 05/02/22 07:26 PM

Quick update:

My sons teacher put me in contact with the gifted coordinator. She told me that I could request a retest for cognitive ability. I asked her which test would be used to se if it would be different than the initial screener test. They use NNAT3 for retesting. I did a quick Google search and felt like this test was different enough from the first test and also felt like it may capture his abilities better than the first test. My husband and I decided to request the retest.

I emailed the coordinator to geta rough idea about when he would be tested. I told my son that he’d be pulled out of class to have a test (he gets anxiety when the school routine is altered, so I wanted to give him a heads up). I told him that depending on how he does on the test, it might unlock new opportunities for him at school. That seemed logical to him and he said he’d try his best. With the retest he met the criteria for the school’s gifted program.

I don’t really know what the gifted program is like, but we are hoping it might give him
More challenge and opportunity at school. I hope he will get to know other kids that have common interests. He tolerates school but there just isn’t anything that really makes him want to go (friends or certain classes or activities). We’re hoping this might give him a reason to want to go to school.
Posted by: aeh

Re: More testing? - 05/03/22 01:34 PM

The NNAT is most like the NV section of the CogAT. In any case, it sounds like it was adequate to give him access to something that might be a helpful resource.

Even if the GT program doesn't have as much challenge as he needs, it may still be helpful in connecting him to a peer group that he clicks with better. Hope things go well for him!
Posted by: millersb02

Re: More testing? - 05/04/22 07:19 AM

Thanks aeh…

Yes, it does seem like the non verbal part of CogAT and the NNAT3 test are similar, but his results were different.

It might have come down to the fact that he gave it a better effort that day. Or that he knew performing well on this test would give him more opportunities. Or maybe because the test was given individually without classroom distractions. Who knows. I am seeing the testing as just a door way to unlock more opportunities for him.