Children who are able to complete tasks at the start of kindergarten are more likely to be enrolled in a gifted program in 3rd grade, says a recent study of 889 kindergartners published in Psychology in the Schools. This was a more important factor than cognitive ability in predicting who would be in a gifted program in 3rd grade.
“If a child is well organized, completes his or her work, and does so even with distractions, then that child will likely be selected for a gifted program by the screening process,” write the authors.
The longitudinal study, which followed two cohorts of kindergartners in a small district from kindergarten through 8th grade, also found that peer sociability had no effects on gifted enrollment. Children were nominated regardless of their interpersonal skills. This was true across gender and ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
“For those interested in gifted identification among students labeled with emotional and/or behavioral disabilities, this is also a promising finding,” the authors write.
The importance of task orientation in children’s enrollment in a gifted program can be interpreted in several ways. While it indicates that students may be identified as gifted if they already fit the prototype of a desirable student to teach (i.e. schoolhouse gifted), it also means the district is using other characteristics besides intelligence to identify students.
In developing screening measures for gifted programs, districts should be aware of the use of task orientation as a screening criterion and make a decision about how much of a role they want this characteristic to play in selection of children for the gifted program.
“The role of social competence in predicting gifted enrollment,” Timothy Curby et al., Psychology in the Schools, Volume 45, Number 8, 2008, pp. 729-744.