Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Marie Sandy


The underrepresentation of Latin@ students in gifted programs is a serious problem that plagues public schools nationwide. Traditionally, teachers’ nomination is the most frequent method used for identifying students for gifted programs. Seeking to understand how teachers’ perceptions of giftedness influenced the nomination of potentially gifted Latin@ students, this qualitative study used semi-structured interviews with eight participants and a follow-up focus group in a Midwestern urban district. The researcher used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach as part of the analytical framework. This research identified several major findings: 1) most participants had narrow and subjective definitions of giftedness that varied based on their levels of training and teaching experience, but none of the participants' definitions were culturally inclusive. However, their conceptual definitions of giftedness did not necessarily mirror their description of robust referral and teaching practices; 2) teachers’ perceptions of potentially gifted Latin@ students influenced the nomination process that varied due to their different biases and cultural models; 3) Latin@ parents were not involved in the nomination process and most teachers did not appear to value their participation. Some teachers expressed a deficit perspective of these families and students; 4) all participants increased the nomination of potentially gifted Latin@ students using traditional and nontraditional assessment tools; 5) three out of the four schools lacked adequate programming to meet the needs of potentially gifted Latin@ students.

Key terms: underrepresentation, giftedness, teachers’ perceptions, identification.

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