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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dennis Brennan

First Committee Member

Fred Muskal

Second Committee Member

Bea Lingenfelter

Third Committee Member

Cheryl Meeker


On the continuum of special needs students, gifted students are often under-served. Research suggests the lack of services reported for these learners is similar across gender, grade level and type of school. However, much of the existing literature regarding differentiation of instructional practices for gifted learners is limited to the elementary level. This study sought to identify administrative and teacher practices regarding differentiation for gifted students in the regular education classroom in middle schools. More specifically, quantitative questionnaires were developed to identify the types of differentiated instructional activities classroom teachers utilize, describe programs offered to gifted students and identify factors which school administrators believe to be important to their role in addressing gifted programming. This exploratory study utilized quantitative, non-experimental methodology. The sample included teachers and administrators in public middle schools in Alameda and Sacramento counties in California in which gifted learners are taught in the regular classroom. While middle school teachers who instruct gifted learners in the regular education classroom employ differentiated strategies in the areas of enrichment, curriculum and grouping, teachers also engage in non-differentiated practices in the areas curricular materials, assessment and acceleration. Results reveal that the use and application of the strategies devised for gifted learners is uneven. Differentiation in the instructional program does not occur with consistent frequency and limited opportunities are presented in the areas of enrichment, differentiated curriculum and grouping. Whereas administrators indicate enrichment, self-selected projects, subject acceleration, enrichment and flexible grouping, should be provided to all gifted learners, actual services provided school-wide as reported by both administrators and teachers focuses significantly on enrichment, differentiated curriculum and grouping. Data shows that the activities reported to be beneficial to students by administrators which include participation in enrichment activities, differentiated curriculum and grouping, are generally reported to be in use by teachers. Although administrators report many activities to be essential to their role in addressing gifted programming, limited training hinders administrators from providing adequate support to teachers and conducting appropriate evaluations.



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