Date Awarded

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Tracy L Cross

Committee Member

Monica D Griffin

Committee Member

Jennifer R Cross

Committee Member

Mihyeon Kim


Researchers exploring various issues in gifted education identify a common finding. Students’ socioeconomic status and race impact what populations are typically underrepresented in gifted education programs. The purpose of this historical case study, with incorporated elements from policy historiography, was to examine policy and practice in one school district making efforts to alleviate underrepresentation of African American, Native American, Latino and/or low-income students in its gifted education program. These methodologies were used to examine the social construction of the reality of reform in the policy and practice of the gifted education program in the district. The results of this study suggest that the story of the Academic Potential Project, gathered through document review and participant interviews, is one of effective policy reform in a local district’s gifted education program. From the social construction of the need for policy reform to its formulation and implementation, careful data analysis, clear policy goals and policy instruments led to the development of a research-based model with a research-based curriculum framework and instructional pedagogy. The findings suggest gifted education has great potential to be a means by which low-income, high ability students become a part of the college pipeline. Educational policy that addresses the problems specific to this group of learners obtaining college readiness, is critical at every level of the policy scale: national, state and local. Results of the study will inform research in college access and equity, education policy, pre-service teacher training and professional development in meeting the needs of underrepresented gifted students.




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