A sundial in the shade: Gifted education and the restructuring process

Julie Karen Heiman Savitch, University of Pennsylvania


In the last fifty years, hundreds of research studies have focused on tracking and ability grouping in our schools. Most of the research has focused on the drawbacks of tracking, both in terms of equity and achievement, as well as alternatives to tracking. However, there is little or no research on the process of getting rid of the tracks of gifted programming in an effort to move towards equity. This dissertation fills that gap by exploring in depth the process that one school district went through over the course of seventeen months in an attempt to align the services provided in their gifted and talented program with current research on intelligence, gifted education and ability grouping. This inquiry was conducted as a naturalistic participant-observer study wherein the researcher was a member of the committee charged with reexamining and restructuring the district's gifted and talented program. The data included extensive field notes from all relevant meetings, taped open-ended interviews with committee members and administrators, and site documents. The resulting dissertation tells the story of one school district's journey, from the inception of the Gifted and Talented Committee to the acceptance of their proposal. Through careful analysis, it became clear that this committee progressed through three phases. During the first phase, the committee created a culture of trust, established group norms, read research, and collaboratively created a vision statement. During phase two, the committee reached an impasse. Though they were writing, reworking, revising and editing the proposal document, they were not moving forward in the process. It was during this phase that the parents became involved, adding resistance to the committee. In the last phase, the committee reached a turning point and the new gifted and talented program was envisioned and created. The final proposal was socially constructed and research based, involving an array of services designed to be inclusive of a variety of talents.

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

Savitch, Julie Karen Heiman, "A sundial in the shade: Gifted education and the restructuring process" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9963095.