Date Awarded

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Tracy L. Cross

Committee Member

Michael F. DiPaola

Committee Member

James H. Stronge


Abstract This study used a case study research design to investigate the knowledge, perceptions, and beliefs of elementary principals regarding whole-grade acceleration for gifted students. The research literature is overwhelmingly positive on student outcomes – academically, socially, and emotionally. However, little research exists on the impact of principal leadership and the use of acceleration as an academic option. The study explored principals’ prior training, personal and professional experiences with whole-grade acceleration. In addition, the research questions aimed to understand what participants considered to be both benefits and challenges with acceleration. The theoretical framework for this study was human capital theory that is frequently used in both educational policymaking and educational research. The theory posits that investing in education and job training programs, among others, yields positive outcomes over time for both students and society. Findings from this study revealed that elementary principals are cautious about using this option regardless of the robust research that supports acceleration. In addition, the study revealed a dearth of knowledge and experiences among participants with whole-grade acceleration. A discussion of implications for practice and policy is included. The study highlights a need for substantive policy, specific planning to provide research best practice guidelines and processes for school districts, as well as strong leadership. Recommendations for future study are addressed that could add to the body of literature. Keywords: whole-grade acceleration, grade skipping, gifted students, elementary principals, principal leadership, human capital theory



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