Date of Completion


Embargo Period



gifted, English learners, equity, underrepresentation

Major Advisor

Del Siegle, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

E. Jean Gubbins, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Catherine A. Little, Ph.D.

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


In 2014, the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights reported that only 2% of English Learners (ELs) were enrolled in gifted programs compared to 7% of non-ELs. With ELs emerging as the fastest growing population of learners in the United States, it is of concern that EL representation in gifted and talented education continues to lag behind both traditional populations of learners and other underserved populations of learners. Therefore, the underidentification of gifted ELs constitutes a problem. Although “all gifted is local,” gifted identification is typically determined at the state level, which in turn informs what is expected of school districts. One state that has identified commensurate numbers of gifted ELs is Colorado. Of note, Colorado has a definition, regulations, and guidelines that included gifted ELs, with districts required to address gifted ELs through program plans. The specific references to and requirements for identifying gifted ELs in Colorado’s state and district documents provide an opportunity to examine how the authors represented gifted ELs in official documents. Critical Discourse Analysis of these documents revealed four identity-forming discourses of gifted ELs. The findings reveal gifted EL identities as formed by Colorado’s (a) definitions and designations, (b) accountability, (c) identification processes and procedures, and (d) stakeholder interactions. These four discourses are a view of gifted ELs as an underrepresented population of culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse learners who benefit from targeted identification processes and procedures enacted through stakeholder interactions and accountability.