The Gifted Rating Scales-Preschool/kindergarten Form: An Analysis of the Standardization Sample Based on Age, Gender, and Race

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The No Child Left Behind Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2002) focuses attention and resources on our least educated and those students who are lagging behind academically. There is considerably less attention, however, directed to America's brightest and most able students and no equivalent legislation that protects the gifted (Borland, 1996; Gallagher, 2003; Pfeiffer, 2002). In our society today, many continue to believe that gifted students will do well academically and in life after graduation without any special attention or recognition (Borland; Sternberg, 1996).

There are a growing number of leaders in American society who recognize that the gifted have unique developmental and psycho-educational needs, and that educating our most talented young citizens is a high-priority issue (Pfeiffer, 2001; Seligman, 1998; Seligman & Czikszentmihalyi, 2000). This is particularly true for young gifted children (Bloom, 1985; Jackson, 2003). Early recognition and appropriate environmental support increase the probability of future extraordinary achievement, and reduce the risk of later emotional and educational problems (Harrison, 2004; Morelock & Feldman, 1992; Pfeiffer & Stocking, 2000).

Many public schools, however, remain ill equipped to meet the needs of young students with precocious intellectual and academic abilities and/or special talents. Too few educators are trained, or have the resources to identify or design effective programs that meet the psychosocial and educational needs of the young, gifted child (Jackson, 2003).

One important, first step in serving gifted preschool or kindergarten students is accurately and efficiently identifying them. A recent survey of gifted experts highlighted the identification process as the second most frequently cited issue facing the field. Forty-one percent of 64 international authorities in the gifted field agreed that identification of the gifted remains problematic (Pfeiffer, 2003). One of the problems is that the field of gifted education has too few technically sound screening instruments, especially tests, designed for the young, gifted child.

The IQ test is almost routinely used--irrespective of the particular cut off score that a school district or state adopts for inclusion--to determine whether a student qualifies for gifted placement. There are few screening tools available to complement the IQ test in providing a more comprehensive picture of a young student's abilities. A recently published article reviewed three of the more popular teacher rating scales designed to identify gifted students (Jarosewich, Pfeiffer, & Morris, 2002). The investigators selected the three most widely used and currently available instruments that employ the teacher as informant. The three scales reviewed were: (a) the Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students (SRBCSS; Renzulli et al., 1997), (b) the Gifted and Talented Evaluation Scales (GATES; Gilliam, Carpenter, & Christensen, 1996), and (c) the Gifted Evaluation Scale, Second Edition (GES-2; McCarney & Anderson, 1989). All three scales were designed for use with young, gifted students; the GATES and GES-2 norms begin at age 5 and the SRBCSS norms start for students in kindergarten. The review concluded that

Appreciation is extended to the Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Assessment Company, for permission to use the GRS-P standardization sample data, to PsychCorp for permission to use the GRS standardization sample data, and to David L. Steiner, PhD, C. Psych, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada, for his helpful suggestions regarding choice of diagnostic statistics.

all three scales had technical shortcomings that limited their diagnostic usefulness. Specific concerns included nonrepresentative standardization normative samples, low interrater reliability, and lack of evidence for diagnostic accuracy (Jarosewich et al. …