Stephanie Brown

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Meredith, Corine


Gifted children--Education


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


This qualitative action research study documented the transformation of a small suburban school district from an educational culture focused on minimal levels of achievement reflective of No Child Left Behind to one valuing the continuous progress of all levels of learners. The participant-researcher led teachers in third through seventh grades with instructional program changes in social studies and science that implemented advanced differentiation using a curriculum compacting model. The two-fold purpose of the study explored how teacher engagement in an effective professional development program impacted their practice and disposition toward meeting the needs of gifted learners, while seeking information regarding changes in school district culture to promote 21st century learning environments. After five action research cycles over an 18-month period, growth at the student, teacher, and district levels were reported to reveal a shift in learning, practice, and culture to embrace the value of differentiating for gifted and highly capable students in the regular classroom. Generalization of the findings is reflected in the development of a framework for 21st century educational reform that integrates various components of the study.