If you believe your child is gifted, you may be interested in exploring the various gifted programs available in Virginia Beach. Gifted programs can challenge advanced students to reach their full potential, learn and grow with similarly gifted peers, and continue striving for academic progress. It’s important to understand what type of curriculum is best for your child and how you can advocate for your child’s individual academic needs.
So how does Virginia Beach gifted testing work? We have everything you need to know to ensure your child receives the best education possible.
(Suggested Image 1: Virginia Beach Public Schools logo)
Gifted Identification Process
Unlike some school districts, Virginia Beach is able to offer gifted programs or a differentiated curriculum for all students identified as gifted. How are these students identified?
The identification process is ongoing, with resource teachers trained in observing students for signs of gifted intellect. If deemed appropriate, these teachers can then refer a student for testing. When students are referred for testing, they take the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) (See “Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test” below.)
Although there is a referral program in place, students can also request to be tested an unlimited amount of times throughout their education.
Grade-Wide Gifted Testing
Students may test into the gifted program in any grade, but only first grade offers grade-wide gifted testing. In first grade, every student enrolled in Virginia Beach Public Schools is tested for gifted eligibility using the Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (NNAT). The test is administered in January and February of each year.
Students who score in at least the 90th percentile on the grade-wide test will then be tested using the Otis Lennon School Ability Test, also known as the OLSAT in March and April. In May, a gifted identification and placement committee reviews high scoring candidates for placement into gifted programs.
In order to fully understand Virginia Beach gifted testing, it’s important to learn about the tests your child will be taking.
Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (NNAT)
The NNAT assesses problem-solving and reasoning abilities using nonlinguistic test questions. Your child will answer questions relating to figures, shapes, symbols, and patterns. All objects and shapes on the test appear in blue and yellow, and each question offers five answer choices.
There are four types of questions on the NNAT: pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization.
The NNAT is considered to be one of the most unbiased gifted tests available. Regardless of a student’s primary language, socioeconomic status, color vision impairment, or educational history, the NNAT should fairly and accurately measure the child’s intelligence. Very minimal use of language and written directions is required for the NNAT, and speaking is not necessary.
The NNAT takes only about 30 minutes to complete and asks 48 questions. This test is designed for students ages 5 to 17. If you’d like to learn more, we have in-depth information on the NNAT, including sample questions.
Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT)
The OLSAT tests skills such as verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The test measures both verbal and nonverbal abilities.
First grade students take Form B, which has 60 questions (30 verbal and 30 nonverbal) and takes 77 minutes to complete. On this form, directions, examples, and questions are read aloud by the test administrator. Questions cannot be repeated, so it is important to work on listening and concentration with your child prior to test day.
Question types vary according to the level of the student. For first grade students, verbal comprehension questions focus on following directions.
The verbal reasoning section requires your child to answer questions on aural reasoning and arithmetic reasoning.
For the pictorial reasoning section, students will answer questions about picture classification and picture analogies.
Figural reasoning questions include figural analogies, figural series, figural classification, and pattern matrix. First grade students do not answer quantitative reasoning questions.
Although we are currently focusing on the grade-wide test for first graders, keep in mind that your child will answer additional question types if taking the test in a later grade.
To learn more about the OLSAT, check out our in-depth article on the test.
Options for Gifted Students
Once your child successfully passes Virginia Beach gifted testing, what are her options? Students in Virginia Beach public schools have two choices.
Your child may join a “cluster” of 6-8 gifted students in a normal classroom at her local public school. The clusters are instructed by a cluster teacher who is trained in teaching gifted students. Although the gifted students learn parallel to other students in the classroom, they receive more challenging and in-depth instruction.
Alternatively, students can attend two gifted schools:
The Old Donation Center for grades 2-5.
Kemps Landing Magnet School for grades 6-8.
In addition to gifted testing, these schools require students and parents to submit an application for admission. The curriculum at these schools is taught at an accelerated pace and provides opportunities to expand and deepen knowledge. Additionally, the school is exclusively for gifted students, so your child will be surrounded by similarly gifted peers and will be taught by educators who are focused on techniques and strategies designed to challenge and motivate gifted students.
How to Prepare
Parents often wonder if it’s possible to prepare a child for a test that is meant to measure innate intelligence. While some concepts on the test can’t be directly taught, you can practice question types, general test-taking strategies, and some teachable concepts with your child.
We strongly recommend having your child complete practice questions to build confidence and familiarity with the question types that will be on the test, many of which are not introduced in the average classroom. As your child’s strengths and weaknesses become clear, focus more on the question types that are a struggle for your child.
Discuss why correct answers are correct and how they can be determined. Give your child plenty of praise and encouragement, and be sure to avoid inducing any sort of text anxiety.
It’s a good idea to go over test directions with your child, since they will only be read once on the day of the actual test.
Now that you know all about Virginia Beach gifted testing, you can begin practicing with your child and preparing her to perform her best!