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Gifted Education in the Commonwealth of Virginia: A Qualitative Exploratory Study of How Gifted Education Coordinators Make Sense of and Implement Gifted Education Policy Open Access

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This study examined both the influence of leadership and policy development on gifted education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and how leaders of gifted education programs make sense of gifted education policy to promote effective change. Considerations of local politics, funding, networking, and input from stakeholders shaped the sensemaking process of district coordinators of gifted education. The adoption and interpretation of the Virginia 2012 Regulations Governing Educational Services of Gifted Students provided the stimulus for exploring gifted education specialists’ sensemaking. The conceptual process of sensemaking provided the conceptual framework for the study.The design is a qualitative exploratory approach using a semi-structured interview protocol with a sample of personnel responsible for gifted education programs within rural, urban, and suburban school districts representing different regions of Virginia. Individual interviews informed how coordinators of gifted education in local school districts made sense of and implemented gifted education policy in Virginia. Analysis of data using the sensemaking conceptual framework allowed the researcher to describe how gifted education specialists interpreted and implemented gifted education policies. The results of the study indicated district coordinators of gifted education used technical and social resources of their professional network as part of their sensemaking process when interpreting education policy. The role of stakeholders was valued by all participants. Funding played a role in the sensemaking process, while the role of local and state politics varied among the participants.

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