Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education



Researchers have noted an underrepresentation of Hispanic ELL students in gifted education. A literature review revealed several problems encountered when assessing and identifying gifted Hispanics and have also suggested a variety of solutions including use of non-standardized alternative assessments. In this project, the researcher explored the attitudes of educators regarding the addition of a non-standardized tool. The TOPS is a non-standardized tool used to systematically gather and document qualitative observational data within the context of instruction (Harradine, Coleman, & Winn, 2014). The researcher used both a survey questionnaire and a semi-structured interview through a focus group in the qualitative case study design. The researcher studied the educator's backgrounds and perceptions regarding the addition of a more qualitative tool. Constant comparative analysis was used to analyze responses. The following research questions were addressed: (1) How did incorporating TOPS influence the gifted assessment panel's identification of Hispanic ELL students as gifted? (2) What were the gifted assessment panel's attitudes regarding use of TOPS in the identification process? (3) What were the gifted assessment panel's views of the gifted assessment process for Hispanic ELL students? The researcher used a predetermined category and emergent categories to answer research questions. The researcher found that in the district studied, use of TOPS did not result in any changes in decisions made by the panel. The researcher also found that panel members had low levels of training in issues related to second language acquisition. Panel members identified several themes during the focus group discussions.

These themes included: (1) time effort and difficulty of use, (2) need for collaboration, (3) differentiating between gifted versus other learners, (4) fairness of process, and (5) subjectivity of process. Perceived barriers and practices to overcome these barriers are discussed.