Term of Award


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

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 1

Dorothy Battle

Committee Member 2

Lorraine Gilpin

Committee Member 3

Dawn Tysinger

Committee Member 3 Email



The purpose of this research was to identify how and why some African American students included in gifted programs maintain academic and social success. Data from semi-structured interview responses, behavioral checklists, and personality traits rating scales were coded and themed as a means to tell Elijah's story. Currently a 20 year old African American college student, Elijah was initially overlooked by his elementary school teachers for a potential gifted placement and subsequently referred himself. Participants of this study include Elijah and eleven of his former teachers, administrators, coaches, and mentors. Emerging themes from the research as sources of qualities to use in identifying African American students for gifted referrals included social skills, self concept/internal motivation, work ethics, and academic proficiencies. Elijah's strongest area of observed behaviors that may be indicative of potential success in gifted classes was social skills followed by self concept/internal motivation. Academic proficiency was the area least noted as having a strong correlation to Elijah's success in gifted programs. The need for a prevailing support system was also acknowledged through the findings from this research. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Social Cognitive Theory were used as the theoretical framework for this research. This research positions Elijah's story within a larger, structural context that acknowledges the interaction of internal and external factors that propel behaviors and actions. The complexity deepens as the research also addresses the systematic institutional policies, procedures and practices that covertly impede the recruitment and retention of African American students and gifted classrooms. The results of the study provide insight into a multi-faceted approach to identifying African American students for potential referrals to gifted programming and creating communities of accelerated opportunities.

Research Data and Supplementary Material