Definition of Mentally Gifted
In the state of Pennsylvania, the term mentally gifted is defined as "outstanding intellectual and creative ability, the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program." (22 Pa. Code §16.1).
This includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher when multiple criteria as outlined in Department Guidelines indicate gifted ability. However, determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone. Deficits in memory or processing speed, as indicated by testing, cannot be the sole basis upon which a student is determined to be ineligible for gifted special education. A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicate gifted ability. (22 Pa. Code §16.21(d)).
Gifted Evaluation Referral Process
Students can be evaluated at any grade level for gifted services and may be referred for a Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) through any of the following avenues:
- Universal Screening: The district conducts annually gifted screenings for students in grade 3. Students who proceed through all levels of the gifted screening process will be referred for a gifted evaluation.
- Staff Referral: Professional employees at all schools have received training related to the characteristics of gifted students. If a teacher, counselor, or building principal feels that a student may be in need of specially designed instruction, they will refer the student for a gifted evaluation.
- Parent Referral: Parents can request that their child be evaluated for gifted services once per school calendar year.
The district can't proceed with a Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) without parental consent. Once a referral for a gifted evaluation is initiated by any of the avenues listed above, the district will issue a Permission to Evaluate (PTE) form to the parents within 10 calendar days. Upon return of the signed PTE, the district has 60 calendar days to conduct the gifted evaluation and issue a Gifted Written Report to the team.
The Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) is a process to gather information relevant to the student’s suspected giftedness. Indicators of giftedness will be drawn from a wide variety of sources. A certified school psychologist will conduct a comprehensive GMDE that may include, but is not limited to:
- Cognitive Ability tests
- National normed individualized, standardized achievement assessment tests
- Gifted Rating Scales
- Classwork samples
- Curriculum-based assessments
- Performance-based skills as demonstrated in portfolios, products, competitions or other demonstrations of skills
- Teacher observations
- Parent Input
Once the school psychologist has administered the appropriate assessments and collected the data listed above, they will compile all of the information into a Gifted Written Report (GWR). The final report must be presented to the school team and parents within 60 calendar days of the date the Permission to Evaluate form was received by the school district.
Prior to the 60 day timeline date, a GMDE meeting will take place with all team members to discuss the results of the evaluation. GMDE team members, at a minimum, must include the:
- School Psychologist
- Building Principal
- Student's Parents
- Student's Classroom Teachers(s)
- Student (if appropriate)
At the GMDE meeting, the team will discuss the following two questions:
Question 1: Is the student mentally gifted according to PA Gifted Education Law?
1. The child has an IQ of 130 or above.
2. The child has an IQ of 130, which falls within a 90% confidence interval.
3. The child has an IQ of less than 130, where the student has evidence that strongly indicates giftedness (3 of 5 of the multiple criteria: *achievement, *demonstrated achievement, rates of acquisition and retention, early literacy skills, and masking factors.
*required as 2 of 3 multiple criteria
Question 2: If the student is identified as gifted, are they in need of Specially Designed Instruction in the identified strength areas?
Upon conclusion of the GMDE meeting, if the student being evaluated is determined to be gifted AND in need of specially designed instruction, the school team and parents will meet within 30 calendar days to develop a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP). Need is typically defined as demonstrated achievement a year or more above grade level. Other indicators that may require discussion of need are those who may be twice-exceptional or ELs (English Language Learners).
Each GMDE will determine "need" based on the many factors associated with the child's academic and socio-emotional needs.
For more information about Gifted Program Guidelines in Pennsylvania, please view this link: