How To Find Out Whether Your Child Is Academically Gifted

The IQ test has been on the nose for a long while now, although in the not-too-distant past it was held to be the only sure way to assess academic giftedness. One of the issues confronting IQ tests when their respect began to unravel, was that they can only measure academic ability and not other forms of giftedness.

Another issue was that they did not cater for the non-English speakers and those who are culturally diverse. Then there was the Flynn effect, the increase of about 3 points per decade in IQ scores, requiring their occasional re-norming in order to maintain the average score at 100. At one point in time there were ugly racial questions raised about which race had the highest IQ, as IQ tests were not culturally sensitive. Such issues weakened the trust people had in IQ tests. There was also the issue around what type of intelligence was being measured – was it chrystalised intelligence, based on the general information children learn, or was it fluid intelligence, which is, according to some experts, the ‘real’ native and non-learnt academic intelligence. Others again argue that everything being tested has had to be learnt to some extent, and that it does not make sense to separate chrystalised from fluid intelligence. However, new tests based on fluid intelligence were soon created, and then the exodus away from IQ tests was only a matter of time. Not only were the new tests claiming to assess fluid intelligence, but they were also cheaper, their reliability was on par with IQ tests, and they could be administered by non-psychologists, e.g. teachers. Today we have a confusing number of assessment tools available, including ‘screening’ tests, such as the Slossen Intelligence Test, which are supposed to test whether it is worth testing a child with the more extensive and expensive IQ test, but is now more often than not used as the ONLY tool! Unfortunately, according to some research (Clark, 1987), these screening tests may be quite unreliable, meaning that the results may be many points different than what would have been obtained by IQ tests. In the meantime, what has not changed is that, based on much research, the IQ test is still the most reliable indicator of school and employment success. Additionally, although non-verbal ‘fluid intelligence’ tests are indeed more culturally inclusive, verbal ability is a very important aspect of cognition that should not be minimised (Lohman, 2006). Finally, you can depend on IQ tests to identify specific domains of cognition such as verbal fluency, spatial visualization, mathematical skill and memory (Gottfredson, 1998). So if you want to find out whether your child is or is not academically gifted, and if the child is gifted, then exactly how gifted, then the IQ test is still the most reliable instrument of all.