Our twice-accelerated child is moving to a new school and they want to give him the TOSCA to see his ability level. I googled it and found a little info on it; a search on the ministry website brings up stuff about the correspondence school. Anyone know of a link to detailed info on this test?
Our son is not a good test-taker and we're concerned he may be denied access to the correct year level if he doesn't do "well enough."
Sigh. I'd have thought that being twice-accelerated (and coping well with this year group) would provide a pretty good indication that he's an able child.
No school in New Zealand should still be using the TOSCA because it is an out-dated, culture-bound, language-heavy assessment which was discontinued in the early 1990's. There are far better assessments now available that all schools should have access to: the new Progressive Achievement tests, asTTLe Reading Comprehension and Mathematics, STAR Reading Comprehension, the Reasoning test of the University of Canterbury, etc. etc. A range of these assessments should be used, not just one test. And further information should be collated from you and any other stakeholders of your child. Your school is gate-keeping your child; don't have a bar of it.
Well said Liz! I can't believe that any schools have a copy of TOSCA still let alone use it! This test has been totally discredited. I remember an amazingly gifted boy in my class who 'bombed' on this test. When I sat down with him and asked him to tell me why he had chosen the answers he had (it's multi-choice), he could justify every single answer, even though they were 'wrong' in the eyes of those who made the test.
My daughter just did a TOSCA test to test for a GATE class and didn't get in even though she has been assessed by an Ed. Psychologist with results in the top 1%. I was absolutely gutted for her, but now I have read this I feel a little better for her, though sad that she has not made the grade the school had determined. Do not know quite what to do now with er, she says she is OK with not being in the GATE class, but I am concerned that she will just drift.
I would be concerned about the school's attitude towards, and knowledge of, giftedness if they denied your child a place in a GATE program on the basis of that test when you have an ed psyc report. If your school has a GATE coordinator you need to meet with that person and discuss how they'll meet your daughter's needs.
Liz is correct and no school should be using this test to assign giftedness.The MOE guildlines suggest more than one type of assessment should be used. I would have thought that you Ed Psych report would have been sufficient for your child to gain entry into a GaTE programme and provided far more support ( and evidence) of giftedness. Can you approach the school and have a discussion around the issue or perhaps go back to you psychologist and ask her if she can support you in this matter. Good luck.
Unfortunately, many schools do not recognise ed psych reports for purposes of entry to GATE programmes. In its infinite wisdom, our MOE allows each school to define giftedness for itself and in its own community, so if a school defines giftedness as high academic achievement (and many do) then a gifted child who is not also a high achiever is unlikely to be given access to GATE programmes within that school even if there is a psychologist's report stating the child tested in the gifted range.
If a school uses, as part of its GATE policy and procedures, a model of GATE that is research-based, for example, the Gagne model, etc., it is self-evident that the school should base its identification process on a student's high academic achievement as well as the motivation to apply themselves. Giftedness, without academic effort and performance, cannot lead to high achievement in the current college environment. It may, of course, lead to great things after school! There are many examples of people in society who were probably gifted but, for one reason or another, didn't do well in school, e.g., Andre Agassi, Richard Branson, etc. etc. Therefore, if an ed. psych report finds that a student is gifted intellectually, this does not necessarily mean that that student is going to do well in the school environment, if the student does not apply him/herself. However, having an ed. psych. report which finds a student is gifted can serve as a useful baseline for potential but, I stress again, if a student does not put in the hard yards, it is very seldom that they will achieve well in the current school environment. This is the controversial reality!
I agree with you on the whole, Liz. Ability by itself is not enough for a good number of gifted children, mostly those at the lower ends of the gifted spectrum. Effort, persistence, and a willingness to engage are all also necessary. Unfortunately, a good number of gifted children 'disengage' at school early on and by the time they reach high school, it is requires an almost superhuman effort combined with a great deal of flexibility on the part of teachers to re-engage them. I often hear secondary teachers say that they won't accelerate gifted students because they aren't working well enough - but my experience as a secondary teacher and a GATE specialist supports very much that if we accelerate the kids they do work because they love to learn and when they finally are learning something new, they will engage. (I acknowledge I am generalising here, but this had held true for many more of my students over the years than those who have not taken up the challenge.) If acceleration is out of the question, then work which provides more depth and complexity needs to be provided. The NCEA structure has been cited to me as a reason for not being able to do this, but I find this very difficult to believe. Where there is a will there is a way.
I think too we have to face the reality that for highly gifted children, little effort is needed to achieve highly at high school so they don't put much in to it. My three all achieve at excellence level but do almost no study at home and the only time I see anything approaching effort is when a big portfolio-type assignment is due for internal assessment. My son, who attends school sporadically because of an ongoing illness, still manages to achieve at Excellence level and is bored witless in the classes he does attend. We reflected the other day that his becoming sick in Yr 9 has actually worked for him in some ways, in that he only goes to about 1 in every 4 classes in any subject, so he manages to avoid all the repetition that occurs in most classes! He puts tremendous effort in to the things which interest him - unfortunately, these are all outside school!
At any rate, I think I have gone slightly off point! If we accept that a primary purpose of secondary school is to help children achieve as highly as they can in school subjects, be they academic or vocational, then identification measures must take into account that purpose. My concern is that in some schools it is only the traditional academic areas (eg maths, science, English) which are used as markers of giftedness. Gifted children who excel in areas such as creative thinking, problem-solving, technology are not necessarily picked up by achievement tests in the academic areas, but they are no less gifted. Each of these areas can be catered for within traditional subject areas with some flexible thinking on the part of the teacher, but often are not. I think of an English teacher doing a Shakespeare unit who had her technologist-boy create a model of the Globe theatre which she then used as a teaching aid - he learned what she needed him to learn about the play and also learned how plays were staged in Shakespeare's time, and being able to use his hands-on skills kept him engaged and this saw him putting effort into a subject he previously thought deadly!
I guess my plea is that whatever measures are used to identify gifted children at secondary level, they are multi-dimensional and not solely reliant on achievement testing in traditional subjects.