Gifted: An Examination of the Challenges in Gifted/Talented Programs’ High School Student Selection Process


Spring 5-13-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Joyce A. Bell

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Stanley Brown

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Chanda Green


The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of what criteria are used to decide how public high school students in a suburb located in Minnesota are chosen to participate in academic gifted/talented programs and how criteria chosen affects the demographics of gifted programs, to determine if gifted programming offered reflects the student body and the communities where these programs are located. Face-to-face interviews were employed to allow thirteen participants (high school staff, and district administrators) to share their understanding of giftedness and the criteria used in a suburban school district of Minnesota. Findings suggest that giftedness is still difficult to define and the inconclusiveness of a definitive definition of giftedness causes confusion for those working in and with gifted programs, making criteria for giftedness misleading. Implications for future research include surveying and meeting with teachers, parents, and students for their feedback to provide information about how rigorous coursework is received by students and how student engagement in rigorous courses differs from less challenging courses. Based on this research, giftedness and the criteria for choosing who is or is not gifted give the appearance of illusiveness. However offering open access, which allows for a greater number of students to be challenged seem to have brought a few moments of awe, to include, students and their parents not wanting to be “the only” student of color in gifted programs and minimized student referrals when rigorous coursework was offered to more high school students in this suburban district.

Research Methodology




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