Q: What GROUP test(s) is available for my child to take?
A : George Mason University (GMU) administers the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) and the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test- Third Edition (NNAT-3) together. Your child may take one or both of them.
Q: What influence does GMU have in determining my child’s eligibility for the FCPS AAP program?
A : None. GMU conducts the testing, but we do not make any eligibility or placement decisions. The FCPS AAP central selection committee makes all decisions.
Q: How do I submit an application for my child to enroll in the FCPS AAP center program?
A : Your most important source of information the AAP office and website in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). You may ask your school’s AAP specialist, counselor, or principal for guidance. You should read reference the AAP website: at https://www.fcps.edu/index.php/registration/advanced-academics-identification-and-placement.
Q: Will GMU submit my child’s scores to FCPS?
A :No, you as a parent are responsible for delivering test scores to FCPS as a part of the completed AAP application file.
Q: How often may I have my child tested?
A : The CogAT and/or NNAT-3 may be administered no more than once every six months. At test registration, you will be signing a document that verifies that your child has not taken these tests within the last six months, or will not take them in the next six months.
Q: I would like to register my child for the GROUP tests, but he or she does not attend FCPS. Can he or she still take the tests?
A : Yes, you can. Although the GMU testing program has been designed jointly with FCPS, we do not limit ourselves to testing only FCPS students.
Q: If I register in advance for a test date, can I cancel and attend at a later date?
A : Yes, but you will need to email us.
Q: How should my child prepare for the CogAT or NNAT?
A: Because these are tests of cognitive ability, we discourage any formal preparation in order to gain a more accurate assessment of your child’s abilities. Good rest and a nourishing breakfast is sufficient.
Q: What if it snows or other inclement weather?
A: We adhere to the GMU weather policy. If campus is closed, we are closed too, and there will be no testing. You can find out if the campus is closed by calling 703-993-1000 or on the GMU website.
Q: Does it make any difference when during the year my child takes the GROUP tests?
A : No; we offer group testing several times per year to provide parents with more flexibility in meeting various educational application deadlines. Please consult with your local school system regarding the specific deadlines that may be applicable to your particular circumstances. If our group testing dates do not meet your particular scheduling needs, you may wish to consider individual testing with alternate tests (e.g. WISC-V). Our office provides these individual tests throughout the year.
Q: Who are the test proctors, and how are they trained?
A : Testing proctors are graduate students in GMU school psychology program. All have received formal training and supervision in group testing, and most bring considerable experience and enthusiasm to the testing situation. Our proctors place your child’s welfare before all other concerns, and we have had some children describe our proctors as their “favorite teachers.” Our proctors all work under the supervision of the program director, a licensed school psychologist.
Q: What do parents do while their child is testing?
A : Parents should plan to stay for the duration of testing. There will be a parent waiting area. After all children are in their testing classrooms, the program director may provide a brief presentation with a question & answer sessions for parents. For the remaining portion of the day, most parents bring reading materials and wait for their child to visit them during testing breaks. Something to read.
Q: Will there be food services available on campus during the GROUP testing?
A : Yes, there are some options in the nearby Johnson Center on Saturdays. We generally recommend that you bring food and snacks from home.
Q: My child just turned eight. Is he or she being compared to children that are 8 yrs -11 mos?
A : No. Age-referenced scores involve a comparison of your child’s performance to children from the national normative sample in three-month blocks, so your child will always be compared with a reference group that is no more than three months away from your child’s age.
Q: Are grade scores the same for all children of a given grade any time during the year?
A : No. When grade scores are given, student performances are compared with the performance of students in the national normative sample who took the test at approximately the same phase of the school year. For example, children’s scores on the CogAT can be based upon normative data collected during fall testing (August through November), mid-year testing (December through February), or spring testing (March through June). Through the use of appropriate grade-based normative tables, student’s scores are compared with those of other students tested at the same time of the school year.
Q: When will I receive the test scores?
A : You should receive your score report within 30 days of your scheduled testing date. We make every effort to ensure that parents receive test scores prior to their particular deadline.
Q: Can I pick up my child's score report?
A : Your child’s scores will be emailed to you directly to arrive within 30 days of test date. If you do not receive them by 30 days, please email us.
Q: If my child does not do well on either the CogAT or NNAT-3, can I submit just one of my child’s test scores?
A : We recommend that you provide both sets of test scores to provide a more complete picture of your child. You may wish to explain any areas of exceptional strength or relative weakness in your Parent/Guardian Questionnaire. For example, it is not unusual for a child with limited English proficiency to obtain a relatively lower score on the CogAT verbal tests than on other tests, because the CogAT verbal tests require English word knowledge.
Q: How does GMU score the tests?
A : The tests are all hand-scored twice in order to maintain high levels of accuracy. Hand scoring ensures that no child is penalized by incomplete erasures or light bubbling of responses. All tests undergo a second level of review by a program director to identify unlikely or improbable scoring profiles, which are checked a third time.
Q: What are standard scores?
A : Standard scores are a traditional test scoring metric that frequently ranges from about 50 to 150-160, with a normative average of 100. They assume a bell-shaped distribution of scores. On the CogAT, these scores are termed Standard Age Scores, whereas on the NNAT-3 they are labeled the Nonverbal Ability Index. The higher the score goes above 100, the more above average is the child’s performance.
Q: What does percentile rank mean?
A : Percentile ranks range from 1 to 99 and describe a student’s test performance position relative to other students of the same age or grade in the national normative reference group. Percentile rank relates the percent of students in the national sample who obtained identical or lower scores on the test, with ranks between the 25th and 75th percentile falling within the average range of normative expectations.
Q: Are testing accommodations available for children with special needs?
A : If your child has a disability that may require testing accommodations, please contact the GMU Cognitive Assessment Program office at (703) 993-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. These decisions are made on a case by case basis.
Q: What are the cutoff scores on the group tests that my child needs to get to be eligible for the FCPS AAP program?
A : There are no specific cutoff scores for any of the tests that determine eligibility for FCPS AAP. The tests scores are just one of several components that will be taken into consideration for the program. The FCPS central AAP selection committee makes placement decisions after taking a holistic look at the child’s educational history, reviewing progress reports, test data, and observations of the student’s classroom behaviors. We do not have a say in this decision or process.