Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Lisa M. Lopez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ann Cranston-Gingras, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Evans, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


gifted identification, English Language Learners, second language acquisition


The disproportionality of culturally and linguistically diverse learners in exceptional education is an ongoing issue (Bernal, 2002; Ford, 2012). One of these special populations is that of English learners (ELs), who are overrepresented in special education programs and underrepresented in gifted and talented programs (Ford, 2012).The extant literature suggests that a rapid rate of growth in English language proficiency (ELP) may be one of the characteristics used to indicate giftedness in English learners (Brulles, Castellano, & Laing, 2011; Harris, Plucker, Rapp, & Martinez, 2009). However, no studies have analyzed English Language proficiency (ELP) growth trajectories of gifted ELs. This study explored the growth in English language proficiency of 4,558 ELs, of which 118 were identified as gifted. Scores from the Comprehensive English Language Learning Assessment (CELLA), were used to determine their typical English language proficiency growth trajectories of ELs. This was done using latent growth curve modeling. The growth trajectories were then analyzed to determine if differences existed in the trajectories of ELs identified as gifted. The findings were that differences did exist in the English language proficiency growth of ELs identified as gifted, particularly in the areas of listening/speaking and writing, where gifted ELs seem to grow at a more rapid rate than their non-identified peers.