The Social Construction of Giftedness
The Intersectional Relationship Between Whiteness, Economic Privilege, and the Identification of Gifted
Wide socio-demographic disparities exist between students identified as gifted and their peers (De Valenzuela, Copeland, Qi, & Park, 2006; Leonardo & Broderick, 2011). In this paper, we examine the intersectional construction of giftedness and the academic achievement of students identified as gifted. Using data from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the largest and one of the most diverse public education systems in Canada, we consider racial, class, and gender characteristics of students identified as gifted in comparison to those who have very high achievement. Results demonstrated that there was almost no relationship between students identified as gifted and students who had very high achievement (Pearson’s correlation of 0.18). White, male students whose parents had high occupation statuses had the highest probability of being identified as gifted. Female students were more likely to be high achievers. Compared to White students, it was only East Asian students who were more likely to be identified as gifted; yet South, Southeast and East Asian students were more likely to be very high achievers. Parental occupation was strongly related to both giftedness and very high achievement. Results point to the socially constructed nature of giftedness and challenge its usage in defining and organizing students in schools.
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