Selection Considerations

Many schools use multiple criteria to identify academically talented students. Rating scales, creativity tests, teacher ratings, and other sources of information can be helpful, but program coordinators must combine the various sources of evidence in some way. 

Even when raters are well trained, ratings they provide are usually much less reliable and valid than CogAT scores. As a result, even assigning ratings a lesser weight in selection can be problematic. For example, when program resources are limited, every student who gains admission because of high ratings or creativity scores prevents the admission of a student with lower ratings but high ability and achievement scores. An effective way to overcome this dilemma is to use ratings (and other measures that are potentially less reliable and valid than CogAT) to provide opportunity but never to remove it.

Suggestions for Combining Criteria

The table below illustrates an approach recommended for combining CogAT scores and teacher ratings from the Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students (SRBCSS; Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg, et al., 2004; see citation in “Other Resources” on page 50). You can use other ratings or test scores. You can also combine CogAT scores with scores from the Iowa Assessments; for example, you can use the CogAT Verbal score with the Iowa Assessments Reading Total and the CogAT QN partial composite with the Iowa Assessments Mathematics Total.

Note: The QN partial composite is an optional score available on some paper-based CogAT score reports. Contact your Riverside Insights Assessment Consultant for availability information.

Combining Ability (CogAT Verbal or Quantitative-Nonverbal)
and Teacher SRBCSS Ratings

        Teacher Rating on Learning Ability, Motivation, or Creativity

        Low teacher ratings High teacher ratings
CogAT Verbal
Quantitative-Nonverbal Reasoning (≥96th PR) II I
        (80th–95th PR)    IV    III

The vertical dimension of the table above distinguishes students who exhibit superior reasoning abilities in either the verbal domain or in the quantitative-nonverbal domain from those who exhibit strong but less stellar reasoning abilities in these domains. We have set two cut scores. One identifies students who score at or above the 96th PR, and the other identifies those students who score at or above the 80th PR but below the 96th PR on either verbal reasoning or quantitative-nonverbal reasoning. These PR criteria are commonly used in gifted programs. We recommend the use of local norms for this purpose, if possible, rather than national norms.

The horizontal dimension of the table distinguishes students who, when compared with others nominated for the program, obtain relatively high teacher ratings from those who obtain lower teacher ratings. Teacher ratings are considered high if any of the three ratings (learning ability, motivation, or creativity) is high.

As shown in the table on the previous page, combining these two criteria results in four assessment categories:

  • Students in Category I exhibit superior reasoning abilities on CogAT and are rated as highly capable, motivated, or creative by their teachers. 
  • Students in Category II also exhibit superior reasoning abilities, but, when compared with others, they are not rated as highly by their teachers on any one of the three major scales of the SRBCSS. Programs that follow a traditional identification scheme (e.g., self-contained classrooms or schools) would accept students in both Category I and Category II. However, educators should monitor the progress of students in Category II more closely than the progress of students in Category I.
  • Students in Category III exhibit somewhat lower but still strong reasoning abilities (80th to 95th PR) on CogAT and are rated as highly capable, motivated, or creative by their teachers. These students could be included in schoolwide enrichment programs that aim to serve a broader range of students than are served by traditional “gifted” programs (Renzulli, 2005; see citation in “Other Resources” on page 50). Schools that serve many economically deprived students may find that many of their best students fall in this category, especially when national rather than local (school) test norms are used.
  • Finally, students in Category IV exhibit good but not exceptional reasoning abilities (between the 80th and 95th PR) on CogAT and are not rated as unusually capable, motivated, or creative by their teachers. Although these are good students, they would not be provided with special programming on the basis of either their CogAT scores or teacher ratings. However, educators should reconsider them when information on achievement is available.