Date of Award





Doctor of Education


Counseling, Foundations & Leadership


In this mixed methods study on teacher perceptions and data related to the impact of grouping structures on middle school gifted and high achieving students, the researcher addresses the gap in literature relating to recent gifted grouping research in rural areas. The study took place in two middle schools of a rural school district in Georgia. A sequential explanatory design was applied to survey responses and focus group data regarding teacher perception of grouping; a comparative ex post facto design was applied to state-issued end of year assessment results and analyzed for trends regarding grouping for gifted and high achieving students; finally, relationship data between teacher perception and student assessment results were also analyzed. Teacher perception survey results indicated that teachers agreed on concepts of high expectations and rigor for students, but disagreed on the best grouping structure for gifted and high achieving students. These perspectives were further elaborated upon in purposeful stratified sample focus groups, where the themes of Academic Performance, Personal and Social Effects, Equity, Discipline, Teaching, and Outside Variables were developed. Student assessment data came from 2015 and 2016 Georgia Milestones results of gifted and high achieving students who were served in either a homogeneously accelerated or heterogeneously clustered model for 8th grade math, 8th grade science, 8th grade language arts, 7th grade math, and 7th grade language arts. Results for assessment and grouping data were mixed and inconclusive, as was the relationship data between teacher perceptions and student assessment results.