Obtaining a better understanding of your child’s cognitive abilities is the first step in helping them reach their full potential as a learner. Public, separate, and independent schools are increasingly supportive of children with unique learning styles. Children who meet criteria for intellectual giftedness may have access to a variety of enrichment and withdrawal programming. There are also many external opportunities available to assist your child in becoming a talented and holistically mature student.
The Ministry of Ontario defines intellectual “giftedness” as “[a]n unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program” (Special Education in Ontario - Ministry of Education, 2017). Supports for giftedness in the public and separate school boards are mandated by the Ministry of Ontario once a child has been deemed to meet criteria for giftedness.
Whether a child meets criteria for giftedness is determined at an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). An IPRC meeting can be convened at the request of the school or a child’s parent or legal guardian. Eligibility for a giftedness designation requires that a child has completed a comprehensive round of cognitive testing. Some Ontario school boards require additional academic screening to determine if a child is able to meet the demands of an enriched or accelerated curriculum.
In Ontario, giftedness-based supports now extend beyond elementary schooling. The Ministry of Education’s Policy/Program Memorandum No. 156 notes that “[a] transition plan must be developed for all students who have an IEP, whether or not they have been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) and including those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness.” High school programming may include ongoing gifted classes, advanced placement courses, or enrolment in alternative programming (e.g. STEM or leadership schools; International Bachelorette programming).
How would a private assessment at FLEX be helpful in supporting my child?
FLEX looks at intellectual giftedness through an expanded lens. We believe that understanding a child’s intellectual potential is only the first step in supporting their learning. Additional information is available that can help augment giftedness supports, screen for potential learning or emotional concerns, or identify alternative ways to enrich a child’s unique talent profile.
Every gifted assessment at FLEX Psychology includes the following evaluations:
A comprehensive assessment of a child’s intellectual potential with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - 5th Edition (WISC-V), providing a domain level assessment of a child’s verbal reasoning abilities, their visual-spatial problem solving, their fluid reasoning or logical potential, and the General Ability Index composite required by all boards for giftedness identification
An assessment of a child’s information processing capacities to flag any areas of impairment or to identify when normal development in these areas could result in a cognitive bottleneck that could leave your child feeling overwhelmed if not properly supported
A screening for common learning impairments that may compromise a child’s ability to show their full potential (e.g. executive functioning impairments; attention and impulsivity concerns; decoding or reading delays)
Survey-based screening of potential behavioural, emotional, or social concerns that may impede your child’s ability to fully engage in their studies, form normal peer relationships, or manage the stressors of school
Holistic survey-based assessments of a child’s creativity, artistic talent, and leadership so that you can support their growth both inside and outside of the classroom
Can gifted testing at FLEX diagnose any hidden Learning Disabilities or conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
While we developed our giftedness assessment model to flag any potential underlying learning concerns, the depth of testing completed during a giftedness assessment would usually be insufficient to render a formal diagnosis in these areas. The tools used were designed to provide expanded “screening” for all areas of concern, but a deeper understanding of the nature of those concerns is necessary to provide a more specific diagnosis and to rule out alternative potential causes for the difficulty a child is demonstrating.
If your child’s profile included a “flag” for a learning-, attention-, or spectrum- based concern, a member of the FLEX team will assist you in determining whether additional testing is necessary. It is rare that further testing is needed, but FLEX will apply the cost of your giftedness assessment towards the full assessment fees if one is deemed necessary.
What will my FLEX giftedness report include?
Your report will provide a summary of all cognitive and academic testing completed with your child. This will include comments on any potential learning concerns, whether these be legitimate weaknesses relative to their peers or simply inconsistencies in the child’s learning profile (e.g. gifted intellectual potential, but information processing capacities in the lower end of the average range). We will also comment on your child’s behavioural, emotional, and social features.
Finally, we will comment on your child’s talent profile, providing insights on which domains should be enriched outside of the classroom (e.g. enrolment in leadership programming; attendance in STEM camps). Our intention is to provide a comprehensive giftedness assessment that allows you to foster your child’s talents wherever may lie.
If you do not wish to provide all of this information to your school, we will provide a second truncated report that includes only the information necessary to determine a child’s qualification for giftedness programming. As this is your child’s personal health information, you have rights in determining what information is provided to third parties.
How much does a giftedness assessment cost at FLEX?
What tests are required for giftedness testing will vary from one school board to the next. As these requirements can change over time, please contact the FLEX team to discuss our current fee schedule. Most private extended healthcare plans provide some coverage for psychological testing. Many plans are sufficient to cover the full cost of gifted testing. Psychological testing is not currently covered by OHIP.
Can you provide me with more information about giftedness?
Being “smart” does not mean that a child will immediately and easily be met with success inside and outside of the classroom. Gifted children not only require individualized and enriched learning opportunities, but may be at increased risk of emotional, behavioural, or social concerns. The FLEX team is well equipped to support these needs in your child or adolescent, through a variety of individualized and group therapy supports.
FLEX is also a proud member of the Ontario branch of The Association for Bright Children of Ontario (ABC), a parent-based advocacy and support group for parents supporting gifted children and adolescents. ABC has a number of regional branches that can help you navigate school programming, Individual Education Plan (IEP) development, and many additional needs you and your child may face. You can find out more about ABC by visiting their website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the school test my child?
The public and separate schools boards typically implement a group-administered giftedness screening to grade 3 students. These assessments are narrowly focused on a child’s intellectual potential and can be a challenging format for some learners to show their full potential. Distraction during group testing, a tendency to rush to complete self-directed activities, test anxiety, and a tendency to respond in a unique manner that is not captured by multiple-choice testing can all cause students to underperform.
If a student crosses a pre-defined cut-off score they may be forwarded to one-on-one testing at their school. Occasionally, students who do not meet the screening cut-off can still be forwarded for individual testing through teacher nomination. Most schools continue to provide only a narrow assessment during individual testing, generating only the scores necessary to determine whether a child meets the entry criteria for giftedness. This can result in several key pieces of information regarding your child’s learning style being missed.
Why must a child be in at least grade 3 in order to complete gifted testing?
Most schools will not accept gifted testing that was completed prior to the start of grade 3. While the sensitivity of cognitive assessments has increased greatly over the last few years, some aspects of a child’s development potential remain in flux during early childhood. This can cause a mild “regression” in intellectual scores, causing intellectually gifted children during those earliest elementary years to present more normally as they age. The Ontario public and separate school boards have deemed that children with a gifted intellectual profile in grade 3 are generally able to meet the demands of gifted programming throughout the remainder of their schooling.
Some independent schools in Ontario offer enriched learning supports prior to grade 3 and may require gifted testing for students prior to entry. FLEX has a lengthy history of supporting independent schools and are able to individualize your child’s assessment to meet the needs of these programs.
My child has already completed the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - 5th Edition (WISC-V) at their school. Can they still be tested for giftedness at FLEX?
It is generally accepted that a second administration of a WISC-5 is invalid if the test has been previously completed within the last year. In cases where the WISC-5 is not appropriate, FLEX completes alternative cognitive testing.
Why does it cost more to completed gifted testing on a child attending the York Region District School Board (YRDSB)?
The YRDSB requires all children who meet criteria for giftedness on the WISC-5 to also complete a comprehensive reading, writing, and mathematics battery. This additional testing, and the costs associated with it, is only completed if a child has met the giftedness threshold on the respective cognitive testing. The YRDSB requires this testing to confirm that the child’s academic status is sufficient to meet the demands of gifted programming. In our experience, this does not require that the child be academically over-achieving, but that they meet the current accepted academic standards in reading, writing, and mathematics.
Contact us now to find out how FLEX can support your child's growth into a talented and holistic student:
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