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NNAT and ESL Students

NNAT and ESL Students

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - June 2nd, 2013

Exam Can Present Hurdles

It’s no secret that the NNAT, or Naglieri Non-verbal Ability Test, is a popular exam choice for schools and programs across the country. The exam is designed to measure intelligence regardless of primary language spoken in the home or other factors that could negatively affect children’s ability to accurately demonstrate their intelligence on an assessment exam. For this reason, many schools opt to give the NNAT due to its comparative fairness.

Even though the NNAT is designed to be language-neutral, it can still present a problem for children who are not native English speakers. In fact, children whose first language is not English, or those who speak one language at home and another while in school, often lag behind native English speaking students simply due to IQ testing methods and the test formats used by many schools when assessing intelligence for entrance to gifted and talented programs. Thanks to the inclusion of the NNAT in the gifted and talented assessment criteria of many school districts across the nation however, more and more English as a Second Language (ESL) students are now given the chance to shine in their school districts’ gifted and talented programs, even when they struggle to develop their secondary language skills.

So why is the NNAT able to provide ESL students with a more level or fair chance of entrance to gifted and talented programs? It’s because the NNAT is a non-verbal exam. It relies entirely on non-verbal thinking and reasoning for children to give correct answers on the test. This means that kids, no matter what language they may speak or even think in, are able to look at graphics, images and other non-verbal questions and without language limitations, choose the correct response on the NNAT, if they have advanced enough non-verbal thinking and reasoning abilities.


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