Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Stakeholder or Gatekeeper: The Role of the Principal in Gifted Education

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patrick Pauken

Second Advisor

John Sampen (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Mark Earley (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Judy Jackson May (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Mary Rizza (Committee Member)


Principals make decisions on a daily basis that impact gifted children’s access to an education commensurate to their abilities. Even though principals are influential in all areas of education, their role in gifted education is often overlooked in the literature. This study sought to understand the experiences of principals and their role in the educational lives of gifted students. The primary findings include the essence of the participants’ lived experience is one who supports gifted education as a stakeholder in the lives of gifted students. Furthermore, this role is an active one and includes advocacy and understanding of gifted students. The stakeholder works to provide educational opportunities for the advancement and betterment of gifted students. As a result of this study, several recommendations for further research in instructional leadership and instructional practice are made. The essence of the phenomenon is one of stakeholder. In the literature, a principal often works with stakeholder groups but is not considered a stakeholder. The principal as stakeholder warrants further research. Additionally, the interaction between the principal as stakeholder and the gifted student as stakeholder would be another area for further research. The role of the superintendent in gifted education, as either stakeholder or gatekeeper, should be considered for further research. From an instructional practice point of view, the recommendations include the participants offering suggestions of increased professional development opportunities that are of high quality. As districts look to hire new principals, the credentials of prospective candidates should reflect coursework and/or experiences with gifted students.