Three Ways to Maximize the Return on Your NUMATS Investment

By Audra Nelson, Parent

This post is for the 20,000+ of you who invested time, money, and talent in Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) this year. First, let me say that I admire and congratulate you on being savvy enough to participate in NUMATS in the first place. You’ll hear more on that someday soon when I share a parenting confession.

Audra with her kids

Author Audra with her kids

Here is what you need to know now. NUMATS is not just a test; it’s a tool. Like all tools, it works best if you put it to use. So don’t let it join that dusty treadmill in the basement!

As a busy parent, I know how easy it is to be long on intentions and short on follow-through. (Or is that just me?) Below, I’ve outlined three steps to help you follow through on your NUMATS investment and get the most bang for your buck…and your child’s time and effort!

1. Analyze the NUMATS Statistical Summary.

On in-grade tests, your child might seem like a whiz at everything. While lovely in theory, that information isn’t actually helpful. So take a close look at the NUMATS Statistical Summary, which provides more specific information and more accurate percentile rankings. Identify your child’s relative strengths and struggles, and compare the results with what your child likes to do. This will give you a clearer picture of your child’s needs and talent areas and empower you to make better decisions, too.

2. Act on the recommendations in your child’s NUMATS Toolbox.

As defined by federal law, gifted students are those “who…need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop [their] capabilities” (No Child Left Behind Act, P.L. 107-110, Title IX, Part A, Definition 22).

Many people think gifted students will do well, regardless of their environment. But your gifted child needs the challenge of high-quality enrichment activities in order to grow and learn according to his/her ability. That’s why NUMATS provides recommendations and an academic plan.

So register for Saturday, summer, or online courses that will allow your child to delve deeply into subjects of interest. Did the academic plan recommend advanced or accelerated courses? Talk to your child’s teacher and/or principal about possible options. Start those conversations now, while there is still time to make changes for next year.

3. Use this year’s scores as a benchmark, and set goals for next year.

One of the main reasons for testing is to assess growth from year to year. In-grade tests aren’t capable of this, as gifted students’ scores are generally flat from year to year. The NUMATS Statistical Summary, however, allows parents to see not only how their child scores this year, but how their child would need to score next year to stay in the same or move to a higher percentile ranking. Take a look at this, and talk to your kids about their goals for next year. Annual testing will give you, as parents, the assurance that your child is being challenged at appropriate levels and the resources to help your child challenge him/herself, too.

Those are just a few ideas for increasing the value of your NUMATS participation. What are your ideas? How has NUMATS helped you?

One response

  1. We recently received a question about when students are old enough to participate in NUMATS. Our main concern is that young students have a positive experience so that they look forward to participating in Talent Search in the years to come, since using an above-grade-level assessment is the most accurate way to measure their academic growth. We very rarely allow students in grade 2 to participate in Talent Search because the assessment process can take a long time and most students in grade 2, even those who are academically gifted, are just not developmentally ready for this experience. Nevertheless we do recognize that there may be some for whom the experience would be appropriate, so we are very willing to consider those exceptions and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

    If a parent is interested in having a second grader test, they should call NUMATS at 847/491-3782 ext. 3 and ask to speak to the NUMATS Coordinator. She will explain the specifics of the Talent Search process as well as the nature of the test and the testing environment. In addition, she will ask the parent to provide results from a nationally normed, standardized assessment (to see if the child meets the program’s eligibility guidelines for a student in grade 3) as well as information about the child’s overall cognitive and socio-emotional development. Consensus is then reached as to whether it is appropriate for the student to participate at that time.

    The next available EXPLORE test date will be November 8, 2014.

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