Gifted And Talented Testing Texas : Everything You Need to Know
We all want our children to have the best education in life in order to fully exploit their talents and gifts. That being said, gifted and talented institutions are increasing in popularity around the United States. Scholars are taught at a faster pace and their syllabus has a broader scope of educational content.
To be accepted into a gifted and talented institution, your child will first have to take a gifted and talented program test. These tests can be taken at various institutions in the United States.
If you’re currently living in the state of Texas and want to know more about gifted and talented testing institutions or programs, we have several options available for you.
Let’s first take a look at what gifted and talented is, as well as some of the tests available in Texas.
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What Is “Gifted And Talented”?
The term “Gifted and Talented,” when referring to a child, describes a child that performs at, or exhibits the prospects of performing at, an advanced level of accomplishment in comparison to children in the same age group.
Gifted and talented can also be defined as a child that exhibits a higher level of intellectual reasoning or creativity. In addition, the term gifted and talented is inclusive of children that exhibit signs of leadership at an early age.
How To Tell If Your Child Is Gifted And Talented
You may have noticed a special characteristic in your child and may be wondering, “Is my child gifted or talented?” It’s important to remember that what makes a child/ student gifted and talented can’t only be defined by one or two traits.
There are several traits that are clear indications that a child/ student may be gifted and talented. The following list is not exhaustive, but are clear signs to parents/ educators that a child/ student is gifted and talented:
- Exhibits innovative thinking and shows high levels of creativity
- Shows the ability to solve problems and exhibits abstract reasoning
- Catches onto concepts faster than other students and is able to draw inferences
- Exhibits higher levels of curiosity than other peers
- Exceptional memory recollection
- Expresses their opinion in detail and elaborates on their ideas
1. Gifted and Talented Testing Texas
Gifted and talented students can be easily identified by completing a gifted and talented test at an institution. There are several institutions in Texas that offer gifted and talented tests for children/ students.
Listed below are some of the various Texas institutions which offer gifted and talented testing:
1. Statewide Testing – STAAR
All public school students in Texas from the third (3rd) to twelfth (12th) grade will undertake the STAAR test. The STAAR test is a state testing program that is based on curriculum 8 (otherwise known as the “TEKS” curriculum) that is taught at state schools.
The STAAR test is composed of subjects such as mathematics, social studies, and science and will test a student’s ability to read and write proficiently. There are various levels of difficulty; the levels of difficulty will increase according to the grade.
The test is generally draughted in English. However, the test can be taken in Spanish, should the student prefer it.
Students in grades three (3) to eight (8) will write the STAAR test over the spring season. There are additional end-of-course assessments (EOC) that are written throughout the calendar year. The number of assessments that are taken throughout the year depends on the grade of the student.
It’s not unusual for students to have two (2) to four (4) testing days per year. These STAAR tests are written by students in their very own schools, so there’s no need for extensive traveling. However, students with special needs may be required to write the tests at alternative venues.
The STAAR assessment has a set number of questions, and each grade will have its own mark structure. Every student will be required to record their answers on an answering sheet; most STAAR assessments are multiple-choice.
The structure of the assessment is focused on the premise of following formulas that apply to certain mathematical equations rather than the actual outcome of the calculation.
The intention of the STAAR test is to keep an eye on and monitor the standard educational level of public school students in Texas. Students that excel in the STAAR assessments will be able to apply to gifted and talented institutions.
How To Prepare For a STAAR Assessment?
Students can prepare for their upcoming STAAR assessments by fully grasping the structure of the assessment. For beginners, the third (3rd) grade assessment test consists of a mathematics and reading comprehension section.
The mathematics section of this assessment test is focused on the student’s ability to provide reasons rather than providing the correct calculations. Students can best prepare by going through their formulas and understanding the steps to follow to get to the solution.
The reading section of this assessment will test students’ ability to read long passages of text. Students who are able to pick up on the details of the reading passage and reach conclusions regarding the contents will succeed.
The most effective way to prepare for any assessment is always through practice assessments. You can access realistic practice tests and resources at TestPrep-Online. Students that familiarize themselves with the assessment structure and answers will quickly learn the methodology of questions.
2. Houston HISD Vanguard
The Houston Vanguard program has been specifically designed for gifted and talented students and caters for grades K-12. The program focuses on students that exhibit higher intellectual abilities, extraordinary levels of creativity, and advanced leadership qualities.
3. The CogAT Assessment
One of the most popular tests taken by students around the United States, including Texas, that assesses whether they are gifted and talented is the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). This multiple-choice assessment is for students of all ages, starting from kindergarten to grade 12.
The CogAT assessment tests the cognitive and reasoning skills of students through a variety of verbal, problem-solving, and non-verbal questions. There are between 118 – 176 questions in the CogAT assessment, depending on the age of the student.
There are three (3) different sections to the CogAT assessment. Each of these assessment sections is referred to as a battery. The three batteries of the assessment include the verbal battery, quantitative battery, and non-verbal battery.
The thought process behind the CogAT assessment is slightly different from that of other achievement tests, such as SATs. The CogAT assessment focuses on the student’s ability to showcase their cognitive abilities, instead of measuring the quantity of the student’s knowledge.
The cognitive abilities that the assessment focuses on are the ability to reason and solve problems using non-verbal, quantitative, and verbal techniques to reach a conclusive answer. To prepare your child for the CogAT discover awesome practice resources here at TestPrep-Online.
How Many Levels Does The CogAT Assessment Have?
As mentioned above, the CogAT assessment is inclusive of all ages from kindergarten to grade 12. An assessment tool that caters to all ages will naturally have multiple levels. The CogAT has 14 different levels, with each level varying in difficulty, the number of questions, and length.
Every level is administered to a specific age group, with the types of questions varying between levels. However, the format of the questions remains the same at all levels.
The structure of the CogAT assessment is as follows:
- The assessment uses multiple-choice questions.
- The assessment can be taken online or physically written with paper and pencil.
- The three sections of the assessment can be completed individually or together.
- Students can be evaluated individually or in groups (consisting of approximately 20 students per group).
How Long Will The CogAT Assessment Take?
The CogAT assessment is divided into three batteries, and each section will take between 20 – 45 minutes to complete. The assessment will therefore take anywhere from one (1) to two (2) and a half hours (30 minutes) to complete.
How Is The CogAT Assessed?
The purpose of the CogAT assessment is to evaluate students on their cognitive abilities in order to decipher whether they are, in fact, gifted and talented. The CogAT assessment uses two methods to determine how a student performed.
The CogAT is able to assess students in the same age category or students that are grouped in the same grade. The age norms are calculated by gauging how a student has performed compared to other children the same age.
The grade norm is calculated in the same way as the age norm. Students that are in the same grade will be compared to each other.
In order to accurately assess students by their age groups, they are split up into groups starting from as young as four years and 11 months old and ranging to 18 years old. Students are grouped in teams with one-month intervals, therefore, every student is the same age in a group.
Generally, the age and grade scores will be very similar. However, using age norms can be more accurate when assessing children who are very young or old for their grade level.
How Are Students Scored On The CogAT Assessment?
There are several steps taken to calculate the scores of a CogAT. A student’s raw score is first calculated by adding up the total number of questions that were answered correctly. The raw score is then converted to Universal Scale Scores. This process is done for all three batteries.
The scores are then converted into a stanine score and the student’s score is placed into a percentile rank.
What Is a Passing Score On This Test?
In order for a student to be considered gifted and talented, the scores will vary, but gifted and talented institutions will accept students that fall within the top 3% of their age group.
4. IOWA Assessment Test
The Iowa assessments tests form part of the requirements for students to be accepted into the Houston HISD Vanguard program for gifted and talented children. The Iowa assessment tests are administered to students from kindergarten through to the eighth (8th) grade.
The Iowa assessment is an assessment tool used by schools across the United States that assesses a student’s academic progress from year to year. There is an Iowa assessment E form that records a student’s yearly performance in assessments.
This assessment tool gauges a student’s abilities in reading, language proficiency, social studies, mathematics, and science. The test is designed to assess a student’s foundation skills and ability to use problem-solving techniques.
The Iowa assessment test is used in conjunction with other cognitive tests, such as the CogAT assessment, to evaluate students’ performances nationwide. The CogAT assessment measures the student’s cognitive abilities, while the Iowa assessment tests a student’s skills.
The Iowa assessment will seek to challenge what a student is presumed to know and what they can do efficiently. In order to do this, the subtests are timed. There is, however, sufficient time for a student to answer all the questions.
How Is The Lowa Assessment Structured?
The Iowa assessment test consists of between 270 – 340 questions, depending on the grade level.
The assessment has 10 sections:
- Social studies
All the questions in the Iowa assessment test are asked in a multiple-choice format. It usually takes between three (3) to three and a half hours (30 minutes) to complete the Iowa assessment test.
How To Prepare For An Lowa Assessment?
The best way to prepare for an Iowa assessment is by going through online practice tests. These prepare your child for the types of questions that will be asked. Students that are familiar with the format will generally perform better on the day of the assessment.
5. Woodcock Johnson Test
The Houston Schools district uses the Woodcock Johnson assessment tool to test the cognitive development and academic achievements of students.
The Woodcock Johnson test is used for a broad range of ages, from young children to older individuals. For students, this test is used to determine whether they will be eligible to enter into a gifted and talented program.
This assessment evaluates what students have learned in school, how they think as well as the student’s ability to reason. The Woodcock Johnson test is often combined with an intelligence test.
There are 22 different section achievement tests that are used to evaluate the students’ intellectual levels in comparison with their cognitive abilities. Understanding a student’s strengths and weaknesses will provide insight into the student’s abilities and needs.
The Woodcock Assessment Tests
There are two types of Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievements; a student may be required to complete the Standard Battery questions or the Extended Battery questions. The type of test administered is dependent on the requirements of the school district.
The Extended Battery subtests are used to assess a student’s abilities with questions that test:
- Spelling of sounds
- Reading a wide variety of vocabulary
- Recalling reading
- Social Studies
- Mathematical problem solving
The Standard Battery subtest usually takes between 60 – 90 minutes to complete, and these assessments are not timed.
The Standard Battery subtest assesses the following abilities of students:
- Writing samples
- Comprehension of passages
- Letter-word identification
- Oral reading
The OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) is a popular multiple-choice test that is used throughout the United States to identify students that are gifted and talented. Gifted and Talented schools often require prospective students to complete the OLSAT before they are accepted.
The OLSAT assessment consists of verbal and nonverbal questions which are used to measure a student’s ability to complete school learning assessments. The OLSAT assessment test is designed with 21 different question types.
The OLSAT is specifically formulated to measure a student’s abilities to use critical thinking and reasoning. The assessment tests the student’s memory, how fast they are able to process information, and their ability to decipher recurring patterns.
To prepare for the OLSAT, discover practice and study bundles for the tests here.
The OLSAT Format
The OLSAT assessment can be written by all ages, ranging from kindergarten to grade 12. There are seven (7) different levels of assessment, depending on a student’s age.
The levels are:
- OLSAT Level A – Kindergarten
- OLSAT Level B – 1st Grade
- OLSAT Level C – 2nd Grade
- OLSAT Level D – 3rd Grade
- OLSAT Level E – 4th-5th Grade
- OLSAT Level F – 6th-8th Grade
- OLSAT Level G – 9th-12th Grade
The OLSAT test is timed and students will have between 60 – 80 minutes to complete their assessments. The allocated time varies according to the test level. The different test levels consist of between 40 – 70 questions.
Younger students will take the test in a one-on-one setting with an examiner, while older students will write the assessment in a group. The assessment is designed to start with complex questions and gradually become simpler as the questions progress.
Students are scored for each answer that is correct and they will not lose any points for not answering questions. The student’s raw score is calculated from their tally of correct answers.
The raw score is eventually converted into a School Ability Index (SAI) score. The student’s SAI score is compared to other children’s scores of the same age group. The students that fall within the top 2 – 3% are considered gifted and talented.
There are several gifted and talented tests available in Texas for students to attempt. Students can prepare for these assessments through practice tests/ exams and familiarizing themselves with the different structures.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.