Term of Award

Spring 2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 1

Barbara J. Mallory

Committee Member 2

Abebayehu Tekleselassie

Abstract

Over the past 30 years, the national numbers of kindergarten through 12th grade students from diverse backgrounds have nearly doubled. Based on the enrollment count in 2005, the state of Georgia experienced a similar change as minority students became the majority in Georgias public schools. Even though this has occurred, the total statewide number of minority students enrolled in the gifted program and the number of minority students enrolled in the gifted program in some school districts in Georgia is not representative of this diversity. The underrepresentation of minority students in the gifted program is a concern voiced in research and shown through data at the state and district level. Research cites the use of standardized testing for determining giftedness, the lack of minority parental partnership between the home and school, and teachers' low expectations resulting in failure to recognize giftedness in minority students as reasons for underrepresentation. This researcher conducted a qualitative study with eight purposively selected teachers, African-American and Caucasian teachers, with varied experience and amounts of gifted training to explore teachers' beliefs about the underrepresentation of minority students in the gifted program in a small suburban school district in Georgia. The fundamental beliefs held by these eight classroom teachers are varied and insightful, and several conclusions can be drawn. Teachers believe that (1) the current testing procedures for determining gifted eligibility are flawed, (2) teachers can offer creative solutions to schools and districts for addressing underrepresentation of minority students in the gifted program, (3) there is a lack of understanding of giftedness by most teachers, and this has a direct effect on the representation of minority students in the gifted program, (4) intelligence is dynamic, ever-changing nature, and the potential for giftedness is present in many students, (5) the lack of parent advocacy and building partnerships with the community is a factor in the underrepresentation of minority students in gifted programs, (6) the underrepresentation of minority students in the gifted program must be reversed; however, most teachers do not see themselves as a factor in the problem.

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