Term of Award

Fall 2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Daniel E. Chapman

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Paulette Harris

Committee Member 3 Email



This inquiry explores the underrepresentation of Black students in the Gifted and Advanced Placement (AP) Program from the perspective of the student. This study focused primarily on the barriers students perceived that hindered their participation. In addition, I explored the role teachers and guidance counselors play in Black students’ decisions to enroll or drop out of AP classes, and how the history and institution of gifted educations has aid and excluded Black students. Five Black high school students, four male, and one female, were interviewed.

Theoretically, my study was grounded in two distinct inquiries; Critical Theory (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2008) and Critical Race Theory (Bell, 1980, 2004; Delgado, 1990, 2000; Delgado & Stefancic, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1999, 2005; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). Critical Race Narrative was the primary means I used to contextualize and analyze the participants’ narratives.

Methodologically, the study draws on the work of Narrative Inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) and Personal ~ Passionate ~ Participatory Inquiry (He & Phillion, 2008) both of which allows the researcher and participants to create new insights which can bring about social change. Four findings have emerged from the research. Students hold a variety of misconceptions about Advanced Placement classes. The fear of failing and the fear of stress played a significant factor in the decision to enroll in AP classes. Students expressed they received little to no encouragement from teachers and guidance counselors concerning AP classes. The issue of being a minority within a minority in AP classes was also a major deterrent in the decision of these participants in choosing to enroll in AP courses.