Gifted Testing for Children

Eileen Escarce, PhD, MA, MSN
Promoting Optimal Child Development and Family Wellbeing

Red Tricycle Awards September 2013


Eileen Escarce, PhD, MA, MSN
Clinical Developmental Psychologist 

License PSY 18819


Why test for gifted abilities? 


Early identification of talented students is important. Children with exceptional academic abilities are significantly different from most of their classmates in their pace of learning and intellectual interests. If educational intervention does not take place at an early age, the child is missing out on valuable years of exciting learning. Furthermore, the recognition and rewarding of academic talent in a child helps to build confidence, self-esteem, and a positive attitude toward learning. 

An accurate assessment of specific strengths facilitates the development of an appropriate educational program that is matched to the child’s level of ability to learn. Achieving a good match may necessitate flexible pacing, independent study, accelerated learning classes, or cross-grade grouping for instruction in specific subjects. 

How Should Gifted Children be Identified?

 The single best method available for the identification of children with superior cognitive abilities is a standardized, individually administered test of intelligence, such as the Wechsler series, or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fifth Edition. A specific IQ level is currently the most adequate index of giftedness. For example, a Full Scale IQ score of 133 or above, on the WPPSI-IV for 4 to 7 year old children, is on or above the 99th percentile for age.  In addition to an individual test of intelligence, achievement tests may be important to determine children’s abilities in mathematics or language arts.

Talented children may have a diverse range of exceptional abilities, such as leadership, creativity, and task commitment which are not easily measured.  In addition, art and music skills need different identification procedures from cognitive testing. The most effective means of identification of giftedness combines the results from several procedures, such as standardized IQ and achievement tests, parent and teacher reports, observation of a child’s behavior, and review of a child’s creative work.

Federal Definition of Gifted and Talented Students

The United States federal definition of gifted and talented students:  
The term 'gifted and talented' when used in respect to students, children, or youth means [those who show] evidence of high performance capability, in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school, in order to fully develop such capabilities.

– P.L. 103–382, Title XIV, p. 388

About the Examiner
Eileen Escarce Ph.D., M.A., M.S.N., is a licensed clinical developmental psychologist (PSY 18819), school psychologist and pediatric nurse practitioner. Her education was completed at Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (PhD, MA), University of Miami Medical School's Mailman Center for Child Development (APA Clinical Child/Pediatric Intern), Yale University (MSN), and Stanford University (Special Studies in Psychology and Spanish).

Dr. Escarce began testing children’s cognitive abilities for local public and private elementary schools admissions and gifted programs during graduate school. As a certified school psychologist at the Episcopal Academy of Merion, Pennsylvania (1991-1993), she provided admission IQ tests and classroom consultations for Pre-K to grade 3 students. After moving to Los Angeles, Eileen continued to assess children with contracts from the Community Child Health Programs of Cedars Sinai Pediatrics in West Hollywood Elementary schools (2000-2001), St. John’s Child and Family Development Center’s Birth to Five Assessment and Treatment Programs (2001-2003), Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center (assessing infants, preschoolers and school-aged children with suspected developmental delays, autism, and other disabilities (2005-2009), LA County Department of Mental Health AB3632 Unit (assessing school-aged children with severe emotional disorders (2004-2006), and the UCLA Family Commons (2010-11). She has been a mental health consultant for Family Services of Santa Monica for SMMUSD's Head Start and State Preschools (2009-2012), and the Growing Place Infant and Child Care settings (2010-present). As a community volunteer, Eileen is a member of the Advisory Council to FSSM Early Childhood Wellbeing Project, and chaired the LA County Psychological Association's Child and Adolescent Special Interest Group from 2006 to 2013.

In private practice, Eileen provides psycho-educational and developmental assessments and consultation for children of different ages, including highly gifted applicants to the Mirman School, Stanford's EPGY and Online High School, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Mensa, and the Davidson Young Scholars program. She also provides preschool and school consultations, individual and family therapy and parent coaching for children who struggle in school. 


Gifted Assessment Options
Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)

(for 2 year 6 months through 7 years 7 months)

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
(for 6 to 17 years )

Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales:  Fifth Edition 
(all ages)


Preparing Your Child for Testing

Gifted testing is offered as an enjoyable and interesting learning experience with a supportive, engaging and encouraging examiner. Tell your child he or she will play some word, puzzle, and block games with an adult professional.  The information from the session will provide parents with an understanding of the child's learning style and may help to determine the best school program for the child.  The goal is to see how the child works with easy, challenging, and unknown tasks.  


How to Schedule Testing

Please send an email to

Include your name, your child's name and date of birth and the date and time you wish to schedule a testing. I will contact you via email with a confirmation. 


Office Location

1137 Second Street, Suite 204, Santa Monica, CA 90403



 What to Bring

 The child will have an opportunity for a snack break with parent in the middle of the testing period (after 45-60 minutes).  Parents should bring a bottle of water and child's choice of fruit or granola bar. 

Results Feedback for Parents

Parents will be given oral feedback of the scores and interpretation on the same day of testing, either in person or by phone.  

Report Options

Parents have options on the type of report: 1) a brief summary report of scores only, or 2) a full narrative report, including developmental history and observations of your child's unique approach and style, interpretation of scores, and recommendations. The report (pdf) is emailed (or mailed, if preferred) to the home for parents’ review. Parents’ written consent is needed to send the report to the school (s). Reports are completed within 24-48 hours.


Gifted Children with Learning Differences (aka Twice Exceptional)

Assessment, Intervention, School Consultation, and Family Coaching


Psycho-educational assessments are also provided to gifted children with learning differences (e.g., ADHD, weak Working Memory, weak Processing Speed,  weak Executive Functions, Reading difficulties, or Math difficulties). These assessments may include school observations, consultations, and recommendations for child and family interventions. Family coaching regarding managing weak executive functioning skills is also offered.



Cogmed Qualified Practice' 



Hours: available 7 days a week



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