Identifying Principal Leadership Practices to Effectively Support Gifted Learners and Gifted Programs


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Virginia Tech


The success of gifted learners and gifted programs in public schools depends upon principals who are well versed in the needs of gifted learners (Gallagher and Gallagher, 1994). Principal leadership in setting direction, developing people, and redesigning the organization influences teaching and student achievement in schools (Leithwood et al., 2004). Research indicated limited knowledge of the unique social-emotional and academic needs of the gifted learner contributing to underachievement and underrepresentation in gifted education (Lewis, et al., 2007; Reis and McCoach, 2000; Rimm, 2008; Siegle and McCoach 2003).

The purpose of this Delphi study was to identify principal leadership practices that are effective in supporting gifted learners and gifted programs. Empirical data collection included three Delphi rounds, one open and two-structured principal leadership practices surveys, one included individual and panel ratings. Supervisors of gifted, principals, and university professors represented multiple regions across the Commonwealth of Virginia on the Delphi panel. By consensus, the Delphi panel identified 10 highly effective principal leadership practices, eight to support gifted learners and two for gifted programs. The highly effective principal leadership practices addressed social-emotional, curriculum, teacher differentiation, scheduling for staff collaboration, peer grouping, and selecting gifted cluster teachers. Implications for practice included teacher reluctance to differentiate, targeted professional development for principals and teachers of gifted students, professional learning community for teachers to analyze practices, and district and school opportunities in hiring, acceleration, and compacting curriculum (Urlik, 2017; Weber et al. 2003). Future research recommended studying implementation and impact of the 10 highly effective principal leadership practices in this study, gifted programs, and professional development in gifted education and principal and teacher preparation programs.



Gifted Education, Principal, Gifted Programs, Principal Leadership