Schools that assess children for gifted programs - or, for that matter, for special education -- often rely on different types of professionals to provide information about the child. Teachers or parents are often the initial referral sources for identifying gifted children and they provide important information about current behavior and performance.
Once a referral is made, the school may elect to test the child using individual and group measures of intelligence, creativity, leadership, and/or achievement. The testing may be done by one or more individuals who are trained to administer the various types of tests. School psychologists, educational diagnosticians, or even classroom teachers may be involved in the assessment process.
The tests or selection criteria that are used ideally reflect the goals of the program for which the child is being considered. For example, if the program emphasizes an accelerated approach to academic subjects, it is likely that intelligence and achievement tests will be given. On the other hand, students selected for talent programs in the performing arts often audition in front of a panel of professional artists or musicians. Most assessment specialists believe that multiple perspectives -- both from individuals and from different assessment instruments -- are likely to provide the most accurate measure of whether or not a child is gifted. Testing may also be done not only to assess whether the child qualifies for a particular program, but also to identify the child's strengths and weaknesses for instructional planning.
Testing is often done to predict future performance in educational settings. Indeed, if a child is already performing at a certain level, it is unlikely that the testing will show that the child would be expected to perform below her current level of functioning.