Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Early Childhood Education (Ed.D)



First Advisor

Dr. Mark Warner

Second Advisor

Dr. Lee Langub

Third Advisor

Dr. Alice Terry


Increasing pressures of accountability in education and calls for equity make gifted education a controversial topic. While much has been written about certain aspects of equity, such as underrepresented groups in gifted education, little research has examined a more complex view of what makes a gifted education program equitable. More specifically, there was no research combining perceptions of the different aspects of equity in gifted education-access, participation, and benefit.

This qualitative study used grounded theory to establish a coherent understanding of the current perspectives on equity in gifted education. Drawing on gifted specialists at the local, regional, and state level, this study explored the perceptions of the elements of equity, needs of gifted learners, and barriers to meeting those needs. These perspectives provided the building blocks of a theory of equity in gifted education within the context of programs in four states. Analysis revealed the elements of the equity theory included access, participation, benefit, leadership, funding, and belief in excellence, which must all be present to ensure equity in a gifted education program.