Critical Elements in Reversing Underachievement in Academic Performance among Gifted and Talented Secondary School Students in Kiambu County Kenya
Wanjaria, J. W.
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The purpose or this study is to establish factors that contribute to underachievement and the role of various strategies in reversing underachievement among the gi Ited and talented secondary school students. The study will be carried out in Kiarnbu County because or its continued poor performance in KCSE examinations, high school dropout rates and drug abuse among the youth. The study is inspired by experiences in my teaching career or 30 years in the County. Questions of the role of the teacher in shaping the life of the learner were prominent during my teacher/learner experiences. From these experiences, it is possible to concur wi th Davis (201 I) who noted that the underachieving GT child represents both society's greatest loss and its greatest potential resource. This raises questions or how underachieving gifted learners are managed in schools in Kenya's 8.4.4 system, given that girted learners are found in every classroom, yet, not many teachers understand them. The Special Needs Education policy (2009) in Kenya acknowledges that learners with disabilities and other special educational needs require specialized education resources at individual and school levels. In the developed world, attempts have been made to reverse underachievement and one study done by Rimrn (2008) in the U.S.A, identified six steps that were successfully used to reverse underachievement. The six steps used by Rimrn seem to have aspects similar to those that I used in counseling and while mentoring the underachieving learners. This may explain why this study will be placed within the Trifocal Model framework. Research into the ways of helping children with special needs including the gifted and talented has been carried out in Kenya. Studies by Muuya (2002); Karnau-Kangethe (2004); Kiarie (200S); Omoke (2011); among others; were in response to concerns that were expressed by various people. The big debate on what makes seemingly bright children and youth not to perform well in school stems from the frustrations their failure causes teachers and parents and from the fact that failure to meet their learning needs leads to immense loss of humanpotential. The questions this study will attempt to respond to are: "what [actors contribute to underachievement" and "what strategies of reversing underachievement are in place in the Kenyan classrooms?" The target population of this study will be 300 teachers in secondary schools that admit high performers in KCPE in Kiarnbu County. National and Extra-County secondary schools will be purposively selected to represent the schools that admit high achieving learners based on KCPE results. These schools also represent schools with adequate resources and well established management strategies. A sample size of 90 teachers from 6 National Schools and 210 teachers from 14 Extra-County Schools who taught the 2009 form one class till form four will be purposefully selected. They will be given the questionnaire to fill. Documentary 'evidence will be utilized to identify learners who had been admitted with high KCPE marks but performed poorly in KCSE. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) will be utilized to prepare and organize data [or analysis. This will involve data entry and, storage, segmenting, coding and developing category systems, indentifying relationships which will be presented through constructing diagrams, tables and graphs and finally corroborating and validating results