The role of social competence in predicting gifted enrollment


  • The first and second authors gratefully acknowledge support from the University of Virginia Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Education Sciences, supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant R305B040049 to the University of Virginia.

    The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the U.S. Department of Education.

    We thank Stacy Droessler Cowan and Catherine Brighton for their assistance.


The purpose of this study is to examine how children's starting level and development of social competence (i.e., task orientation and peer sociability) during kindergarten and first grade predict gifted program enrollment by third grade, even after considering children's cognitive ability. A second purpose is to examine the extent to which the relationship between children's social competence and gifted program enrollment differs depending on children's socioeconomic status (SES), ethnicity, and gender. Latent growth curve analyses conducted on 347 children revealed that students enrolled in gifted programming were not only those high in cognitive ability, but also those showing early task orientation. Neither peer sociability's initial status nor growth was a significant predictor of gifted enrollment. Multigroup comparisons demonstrated different predictive paths for higher versus lower SES groups. Implications are discussed including important questions raised by this study and the need for teacher training in the identification of giftedness. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.