Qualitative Assessment is a method of understanding and evaluating gifted children without actual measurements.  It gives us experience, clues and information about who a child is, emotionally and spiritually, and opens another door to the understanding of children.  Although QA has been practiced for more than 20 years and many children (probably in the hundreds) have been evaluated on this basis, Its definition grew organically through the combined thinking of a group of people coming together periodically (usually at the annual NAGC conferences) to answer a perceived need for a way of evaluating gifted children other than IQ testing.  The first time we found a place to discuss a new approach, and thought there would be the three or four of us who had planned to get together, we were surprised to find that the word had spread, and 20 people appeared to explore the possibility of an alternative evaluation method.  It showed that there was a clear need for finding a way of evaluating children which included emotional giftedness. 

From time to time, there has been pressure, or maybe I should say the hope, to evaluate the QA approach itself by objective measurements. This never felt like a possibility to me, because emotional and spiritual qualities cannot be expressed in cognitive ways.  Our whole concept of reality is based on proof and measurement; only then do we feel the security that a concept is real, and therefore trustworthy and acceptable.  To base one’s conclusions about understanding other human beings on a proofless assessment requires a great deal of trust and an understanding that the world of emotions cannot be reached by cognitive methods of measurement.

Maybe the only way to clarify this is to ask, “Can you measure love?” or “How many portions of love does it take to be believed?” or by trying to measure it in mathematical terms—in other words, proving love. People, of course, have often tried to do this, as in “Prove to me how much you love me,” and most of us would reject this idea.  It would be like asking, “How much life does it take to create a beautiful sunset? How much joy does it take to experience the setting rays of the sun, while they show themselves in all the colors of the rainbow?”  They create a warm feeling of happiness; they create fulfillment of a special kind.  Can we measure this? 

This is the way I look at the characteristics of the gifted child: his or her sensitivities, his or her millions of ways of expressing creativity, his or her excitement for life, the curiosity as well as the anxiety—can you measure this?  How many ounces of sensitivity does it take to create the feeling of fulfillment, happiness, desire, anxiety, etc.?  The richness of the gifted child’s emotional life can never be reduced to numbers. 

Qualitative Assessment is not an alternative IQ test.  It is something truly different, and the two cannot be compared.  To try is to do a disservice to both approaches.  The reality is there are two different parts of the human personality, and the more I work with these children, the more I realize that we have to be careful to make the distinction.  Qualitative assessment is about who the child is, and the IQ test is about what he can do.  Both give us valid information, but different information, which serves different purposes. 

By trying to understand who the child is, I disentangle him from what he can do.  QA gives us no information about his interests, achievements, physical abilities or social relationships.  In fact, none of that impacts the Qualitative Assessment evaluation.  It doesn’t tell us anything about learning disabilities, why learning disabilities exist, or what to do about them.  Its purpose is only the understanding, experience, and even enjoyment of the pure individual self.  The information about who this Self is opens the door to our understanding of the characteristics of the gifted: their excitements, their enchantments, their imaginations, as well as their concerns, anxieties, and fears.  QA tells us what their souls contain, what they may long for.  It tells us about their understanding of reality, about their concerns of life and death, about their love for their families and their ability to identify with the animals. QA also tells us about their sense of our reality, as well as their understanding of the limitations of that reality, and the inclusion of the concepts of realities beyond the ones based on our earthly experience.  In other words, it talks about the richness that dwells inside the individual.  This may impact the individual’s relationships with the outside world, but QA doesn’t make a judgment about it, nor does it concern itself with that part of the child’s life.  That is the task of the many other methods of evaluation. 

The task of QA is to illuminate the soul—its characteristics, the ways it looks out on the world—without any judgment as to right and wrong, or concern about its future.  By learning about gifted children, and how they begin to develop their relationship to the world, we make a point of not making any judgments or predictions, but we do understand about the characteristics of each and about the inner structure of emotions, and how the child sees the world.  QA is not a measurement, it’s an awareness, an experience.  For the observer, it’s an all-consuming occupation: to emotionally experience the Self of the gifted child.  By suspending judgment and concentrating on the experience of the Self, the doors to the innerness of the child can be opened and reveal a world that is usually closed to us.  It will not reveal itself if we only look for what a child can do, but it will if we look for who she is.  The IQ tests, or something similar, may then become the next step.  Once we know who the child is, then we can think about her relationship to the outside world.  But this is the task of the tester, QA is the task of the observer without an inner agenda.

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Some signs of giftedness in children and adults compiled by Annemarie Roeper, Ed.D. and Betty Maxwell, Ph.D.


Remembering insults forever

Doing three things at once

Doing the outwardly foolish thing, taking up lost causes


Interest in life and death

Driven to comprehend, complexity of understanding

Wanting to know the reasons and origins of things

Asks, “What is my purpose?”


Recognition of falsity, no “trophy friends”

Complexifying solutions

Finding non-conventional solutions, originality

Not motivated by extrinsic awards, discomfort with praise


Undeterred by conventional expectations

Self taught, non-sequential learning

Need for precision

Recognition of unfairness, strong sense of justice

Making intuitive leaps, making logical projections

Noticing what no one else does

Manipulation and bargaining

Make and follow their own plans, less teachable

Devise practical experiments to see “What if?”

Saying, “Actually”

Large vocabulary, love of big words

Delayed in toilet training, difficulty in separating from mom

Early sense of responsibility

Not wanting to grow up and face the world

Less physical risk-taking

Zipping through Piagetian stages

Friends of both genders, later sexual interests

Abstract thinkers before having the emotional ability to handle it

Symbolic thinkers

Can animate their fears, powerful emotional imagination


Please send your good wishes for Annemarie c/o Karen Mireau at and we will post them here.

Recent Congratulations:

Your work has been such an inspiration for looking at the world through the eyes of gifted children and validating their inner world and honoring the soul in all children. I think of the school you created as an ideal environment for keeping a child's spirit alive - in a world that wants to solve the problem of the "spirited child." I believe that your unique approach to children and education is the solution to what ails the education system and medicine for the future. - Dr. Lara Honos-Webb

This is not a re-launching of your career but the mere launching of a new website! Your career is and has always been a seamless continuation of a lifetime of experiences from which you extract a pure, translucent insight. You then use your skillfulness to apply this insight to your work with others. Your approach to understanding and working with gifted individuals of all ages is non-dualistic, holistic, nurturing, kind and intuitive. For this reason, people of all ages are instinctively drawn to you seeking to grow under your tutelage. I send you wishes for continued success. - Cindi Lardner

I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE!!!! It makes me so happy to see you in pictures, and to read your wonderful words, and view this tribute to your 60 years of accomplishments. I LOVE IT! It feels like new life....just like the springtime! You are re-budding!!!! AMEN! - Patty Gatto-Walden

I LOVE your blog! First, the photo of you captures your true essence: kindness that is obvious in that knowing smile that I have come to love. I had a chance to watch some of the videos that are linked to your site. Fabulous! - Jim DeLisle

HOORAY! The new website give a fresh look and re-launches Annemarie's consulting practice. It is a compilation of many aspects of your life, Annemarie, and it is a great look to the past as well as to the future. - Michele Kane

Onederful!!!! You didn't mention this when I visited....what a great way to continue your work and share it with so many more.... - Susan Ryan

Ellen D. Fiedler, Ph.D. writes:


“Ageless” is the word that I’ve always used to describe my dear friend and treasured colleague, Annemarie Roeper. Her vitality of mind and spirit transcends all chronological boundaries, and issues of age simply vaporize in the clear, bright light of times shared with her.

“Ageless” is a word that also describes Annemarie’s perspectives on “life, the universe, and everything.” The wisdom she brings to every conversation I’ve ever had with her, as well as to her writings, presentations, and consultations, defy the boundaries of time and space. The pioneering work that she (with her beloved husband, George) did in creating and heading Roeper School and in developing “The Roeper Philosophy” has stood the test of time in honoring the Self of the child and broadening our perspectives on giftedness far beyond the narrow thinking of those who focus solely on the academic achievements and scholastic accomplishments of the gifted.

Most recently, one of the many manifestations of Annemarie’s ageless wisdom has been related to her Qualitative Assessment method for understanding the giftedness of children. She realized long ago that there was much more to identifying giftedness than was being revealed through traditional methods (test scores, teacher observations, performance tasks, etc.) and that she had been going well beyond those methods for years, dating well back to the days when she was at Roeper School full time. Her Qualitative Assessment (QA) method involves entering the world of the child and discovering much more about emotional and spiritual aspects of that individual, in addition to the child’s cognitive functioning, than could ever be revealed otherwise. So, Annemarie enlisted the aid of many of us who were close to her and very familiar with her work (Linda Silverman, Betty Meckstroth, Patty Gatto-Walden, Michele Kane, and others, including me) to establish an “apprenticeship” program that currently is well along in developing a cadre of skilled QA practitioners.

Spending time with Annemarie is, in itself, a timeless experience. Whether it was our conversations at the breakfast table, walking along one beach or another, riding together in a car, or sharing a meal, I invariably have found our discussions lively and intriguing and very influential in relationship to my work with teachers, schools, and school districts who are concerned with gifted children. (In fact, I often said that Annemarie and I should keep a tape-recorder going as we explored all those many complex and significant topics.) In an ongoing interplay between the past and the present, Annemarie draws on the experiences of a lifetime lived deeply and intensely while simultaneously being fully present in the here and now as her thoughts and feelings are dynamically shaped and reshaped in meaningful conversation with others.

Those of us who have known Annemarie well continue to be enriched by our connection with her. However, others who know her only through her prolific writings and speeches have continued to benefit by her timeless and ageless wisdom, benefits that have permanently changed the course of the field of gifted education for the better.

Ellen D. Fiedler, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL. Educational Consultant: Wings for Education LLC, New Buffalo, MI.



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