Types of Assessments

Common types of quantitative assessments:

Ability Tests: instruments designed to measure an individual’s mental abilities or potential to learn.

  • Traditional ability tests are administered individually by licensed psychologists or trained professionals. Test administrators not only have test scores, but are able to make notes during testing regarding attention, emotions, and problem-solving behaviors.
  • Group ability tests are administered to large groups of students by test administrators who are not psychologists. These tests are more popular due to their cost-effectiveness, however there is some debate surrounding the group testing environment.
  • Nonverbal ability tests are administered by test administrators. Test items are presented with visual stimuli requiring nonverbal responses. These assessments are considered better for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) students because they minimize the need for language; however, there has been some controversy because they do not measure the same skills as other ability tests.
  • Abbreviated ability tests are administered by test administrators. They are shortened versions of traditional ability tests and are best used as an estimate of cognitive ability.

Achievement Tests: instruments designed to measure what an individual already knows or understands about a specific content area.

  • Above-level tests are designed with high ceilings and are often used in talent search programs such as Duke TIP.  Examples of above-level tests include the SAT and ACT.
  • Norm-referenced tests are designed to compare individual results from the tests with the performance of peers from the same age and or grade level in the United States.

Computer Adaptive Tests (CATs): administered in a computer-based setting and designed on an item response mode. This means that questions are chosen based on the test-taker’s previous response(s). Some advantages to CATs are test-taker motivation to complete the test, test security, and flexibility in test scheduling. CATs may be administered individually or in a group setting.  

Common types of qualitative assessments:

Rating Scales: instruments used to make judgments about the skills, abilities, and characteristics of gifted students based on a predetermined scale and score interpretation. Rating scales can be specialized for different types of giftedness and are beneficial because they can provide a means to identify potential in underrepresented populations.

  • Teacher rating scales involve teachers rating students. Best practice is to train teachers in the use of the rating scale and how to recognize the different characteristics of giftedness, especially from CLED students.
  • Parent rating scales involve parents rating their children. Parents have long-term knowledge of their child’s abilities, however, some parents’ desire, or lack of desire, to have a child identified as gifted may skew results.
  • Peer rating scales involve peers or students rating other students. Advantages to obtaining peer input is lack of bias and the potential to gather several pieces of data on the same student.
  • Self-rating scales involve students rating themselves. Some concerns surrounding these scales relate to personality qualities such as modesty and shyness, in addition to bias from a desire to be identified as gifted.

Performance-based Assessment: students produce original performances or products and are typically judged using assessment rubrics or rating scales. Various traits and characteristics of gifted potential are more easily observed, especially in underrepresented populations.