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Conlon, Linda (2014) THE STORIES SUPERINTENDENTS TELL ABOUT GIFTED EDUCATION: A STUDY OF THEIR NARRATIVES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This qualitative study suggests a unique advocacy strategy for improved gifted programming in public schools. A review of the literature reveals that in light of NCLB and other political and economic factors, gifted education is once again, as it historically has been, at risk. Advocacy efforts at the state and national levels have been sporadic and only partially successful because programming is primarily a local proposition. Further, the literature exposes a paucity of research attention toward public school superintendents who are key figures in their district’s philosophy toward gifted learners and who control its financial and human resources. To address this omission, the study analyzes lived experiences of public school superintendents who were prompted to recall an encounter with gifted education in any of their personal or professional roles. The Critical Incident Technique (CIT) was used to examine the resulting narratives. CIT posits that selected memories, which have stood the test of time, are meaningful. The gifted education issues embedded in the recalled stories hold key experiential information and attitudinal data that, upon examination and interpretation, can guide the efforts of gifted education coordinators and others charged with the design and delivery of services. Eighteen superintendents were interviewed. Each of their stories was analyzed for perspective, setting, embedded gifted education issue(s) and overall positive or negative affect. Selected stories highlighted the attitudes, feelings or beliefs that resulted from the experience and that potentially could inform programmatic, professional development or advocacy activities at the local level. Additionally, the stories were analyzed collectively for patterns or themes that could contribute to a professional discourse about the role superintendents play in the establishment, quality and maintenance of gifted programming in public schools. The superintendents’ stories encompassed major issues in gifted education: identification, acceleration, curriculum, social justice concerns and program models. They were offered from a variety of personal and professional perspectives, from early childhood to the present, indicating the wide spectrum of memorable encounters with gifted education these leaders have experienced over their lifetimes – encounters that may reveal their mindsets toward gifted education, and potentially its fate in their districts and beyond.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTrovato, Charlenetrovato@pitt.eduTROVATO
Committee MemberLongo, R. Gerardlongoj@pitt.eduLONGOJ
Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.eduMGUNZEN
Committee MemberKerr, Mary Margaretmmkerr@pitt.eduMMKERR
Date: 10 June 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 January 2014
Approval Date: 10 June 2014
Submission Date: 24 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 206
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: gifted, education, superintendents
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2014 12:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:19


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