Exploring Alignment in Gifted Education Program Policies and Practices

Brodersen, Annalissa, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Callahan, Carolyn, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Since no federal policy exists to guide gifted education in schools, gifted education policies about providing programs and services for gifted students vary widely across states (CDSPG & NAGC, 2015). Previous studies demonstrate a possible disconnect between gifted education policies at the state and district level (e.g., Callahan, Moon, & Oh, 2013), and the extent to which school-level practices are aligned with state and/or district policies is unknown. Additionally, previous studies (e.g., Baker, 2001a; Kettler, Russel, & Puryear, 2015) indicate gifted programs may vary according to district/school size and/or district/school resources. In the present study I use qualitative document analysis to examine gifted education policies and practices within two states. I examine state and district-level policies as well as district and school-level reported practices about gifted education services. Sample districts within each of two states were purposefully chosen to represent each end of the spectrum on both district/school size and district/school resources to include two large/high resource districts, two small/high resource districts, two large/low resource districts, and two small/low resource districts. Results indicate state and district policies in the states are, overall, moving toward alignment with recommended practices, while district and school reported practices are only weakly or partially aligned with those recommendations. No specific patterns in the data could be attributed to the differences in size or resources in this study.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
education policy, gifted education, policy alignment
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