by Barbara Teeke
Diagnostics for Advancement are often applied to detect selective performance deficits, disabilities and the like.
This article focuses on the detection of strengths, weaknesses and talents.
In my work in diagnostics for advancement and parent counselling I have come to see the following:
Before parents decide in favour of testing …
- – there has been a good deal of deliberation,
– they have considered the pros and cons,
– they are uncertain as to the contents, aims and usefulness of testing,
– they wonder whether testing might harm or otherwise stress the child,
– they seek the advice of friends, acquaintances and possibly even pedagogues at kindergarten or school,
in short – they do not easily make the decision whether or not to have the child tested.
…in a nutshell…
Parents usually do not decide to have the child tested without careful consideration.
They are unsure about the procedure of a test, of what use it might be, and what consequences may result from it.
Rarely do parents come for testing exclusively in order to detect possible giftedness. Their motives are often diversified and encompass the desire for an objective assessment of their child’s strengths and weaknesses, the question about the reasons for conspicuous behaviour, the wish for understanding attendance as well as individualised support that is geared to their child’s needs.
The following reasons are frequently named when parents are considering to have their child tested:
- The parents are at odds with regard to the question whether their child disposes of talents that are extraordinary or untypical for the child’s age. In such cases there may be exhausting discussions and controversies between the parents which lead to a growing uncertainty and disagreement in the family.
- Both parents are uncertain about their assessment of the child. This is where parents repeatedly state the concern that they might under- or over-challenge their child. They are worried about failing to recognise, misinterpret or not living up to their child’s needs.
See: Playing and Learning Needs
- The parents seek more detailed insight into their child’s strengths and strengths-to-be, taken by another person whose look upon the child is not so strongly affected by love of the child as is their own perception.
- There are currently no problems and the parents want to keep it that way, so that the child will keep developing well and without any disturbances. To ensure this they consider a sound diagnosis to be helpful for their continuous support with regard to strengths and weaknesses.
- The child shows behaviour which is alienating to the parents and everybody else in the family. Some statements in the way are for instance:
“Our child is so exhausting.”
“It keeps demanding new challenges all the time.”
“It asks questions, even we don’t know the answer to.”
“It wants to know all kinds of things that are really not right for its age.”
“It has no real friends.”
“It is so picky when it comes to choosing a friend.”
With regard to these problems parents need hints as to what might cause a particular behaviour. Occasionally the possibility of a test has been pointed out to these parents by other parents or by kindergarten staff.
- The child shows behaviours at home, in kindergarten or at school which are out of the ordinary – because they are untypical for the child’s age or because they are outstanding. A child may draw attention by being very quick in learning new songs, memorising stories or poems and being able to reproduce them. Or it astonishes everybody with its extensive vocabulary and its advanced use of it.
At school it may catch the teachers’ attention by learning how to read very quickly, disposing of outstanding skills in the fields of mathematics, reading and writing and/or disposing of wide spread knowledge.
- The child shows irritating behaviours at home, in kindergarten or at school. Such behaviours may be:
- – Frequently disturbing the morning round (kindergarten), open learning sessions or discussions in class (school),
- – Being unfocussed,
- – Not paying attention,
- – Frequent disputes with other children,
- – maladjustment,
- – overreacting,
- – never ending arguments,
- – being unbalanced / continuous discontent,
- – insufficient integration in the group / class
See also: Permanent Frustration
- Kindergarten teachers or teachers at school point out to the parents that their child performs way above average. In consultations with the parents pedagogues recommend testing the child, …
- – because they are under the impression that the parents are uncertain about their child’s skills and talents,- because pedagogues are uncertain about their assessment of the child as to its strengths and weaknesses, and how to provide support that is tailored to their individual needs,- because pedagogues expect new ideas for further support following from the results of the test,- because kindergarten staff have come to the conclusion that they cannot provide adequate support for the child any more and that an early enrolment at school might be advisable,
(See also: How We Develop a Recommendation for Early School Enrolment)- because pedagogues come to the conclusion that the child disposes of significantly more skills than it is presently able to show.
- The parents consider school enrolment prior to the regular date. They consider testing, when they are not sure if an early enrolment2 makes sense, if it is the right thing to do for the child and if , in the end, it might even be too much of a challenge for it.Sometimes headmasters at school will recommend a test in order to attain certainty for themselves as to the developmental state of the child and subsequently to be able to meet the child’s specific needs later on.
- The parents are thinking about enlisting their child at a school with special educational activities for gifted children, which is way outside their district3. In this case a sound performance profile or an expertise, recommending enrolment at a school offering specific curricula for gifted children, may prove rather helpful in establishing the case. By the same token such an expertise or performance profile may be useful for parents and teachers in their decision process.
- The child’s parents and teachers are considering to have the child skip to the next form/class but are unsure if this is the right thing to do.
- The child is uncertain as to its own assessment of its performance and potential, and as to where it stands in life. It wants an evaluation that is independent of that of his parents (whom the child hardly considers to be objective), upon which it can reposition itself if need be.This aspect is – however – rather the exception and occurs mostly with older children or adolescents. I have met one 15 years old girl, one 13 years old boy, one 8 years old boy and one 7 years old girl who expressed this wish.
In all these cases it is envisioned that by conducting sound diagnostics a deeper insight into the child’s skills and general performance potentials can be taken – with the intention to accompany the child in a way that is tailored to its specific needs, to support and foster it.
Standards for Conducting Diagnostic Test Procedures
Thoughts, Worries and Fears by Parents and Pedagogues with Regard to Testing
Published in German: May 5th, 2007
Translated by Arno Zucknick
Copyright © Barbara Teeke, see Imprint.