Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Audrey E. Rabas, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Butcher, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Marcia Derrick, Ed.D.


This qualitative phenomenological study explored the phenomenon of the underrepresentation of African American students in gifted education programs. The purpose of this study was two-fold. First, the purpose was to explore the perspectives secondary school teachers have towards African American students regarding how secondary middle school teachers identify and refer African American students for enrollment in gifted education programs. Second, the purpose of this study was to understand how secondary middle school teacher perceptions of the identification and referral of African American students influence the underrepresentation of African American students in gifted education programs. The theoretical framework that guided the conceptual framework was transformational leadership (Shields, 2011) along with collective efficacy and deficit thinking (Bieneman, 2011). A phenomenological design was utilized with a purposeful sample of six secondary school teachers. The research questions were designed so participants could articulate their perspectives on what factors influence the underrepresentation of African Americans in gifted education. Data was collected through in-depth interviews. A phenomenological analysis as well as coding were utilized to analyze the data. The study’s findings revealed that teacher perceptions influenced African American student representation in gifted education programs because teachers let outside factors such as personal bias, cultural influence, and more cloud their ability to recognize giftedness in students of color. Recommendations for educational stakeholders is to (a) assess and improve the practices of policies of GATE programs, and (b) provide ongoing professional development for teachers to recognize the abilities of gifted minority students.

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