Discussion 7.1: Twice Exceptional Students

Discussion 7.1: Twice Exceptional Students Part 1Write 3 paragraphs in APA format with references. Read the document The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma produced by the National Education Association and respond to the following questions:What are the practical classroom implications for twice exceptional students?How might this affect how you think of and treat students who have disabilities?Part 2Please respond to these 6 people in the word document. Read what they have wrote then write a response for each individual person. Example : Hello Tyler, Great post. I believe so and so. I also agree with that but also believe this. Etc.


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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee
organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, related
service providers, education support professionals, college
faculty, school administrators, retired educators,
and students preparing to become teachers.
Additional copies of this publication can be purchased through the
NEA Professional Library, 1-800-229-4200; www.nea.org/books,
or downloaded at www.nea.org/specialed.
Reproduction: No part of this manual may be reproduced in any form without
permission from NEA, except by NEA-affiliated associations. Any reproduction
of the material must include the usual credit line and the copyright notice.
Printing history: 1st edition 2006.
…failure to help the gifted child reach his potential is a societal tragedy, the extent of which
is difficult to measure but what is surely great. How can we measure the sonata unwritten,
the curative drug undiscovered, the absence of political insight? They are the difference
between what we are and what we could be as a society.
–James J. Gallagher
Copyright © 2006 by the
National Education Association
All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents
section 1
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
section 2
Why is it important? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
section 3
Identification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
section 4
Responsibilities of the Classroom Teacher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
section 5
Community and Local Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
section 6
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
section 7
Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
section 8
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
section 9
Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
section 1
The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma
Rodney gets decent grades and achieves close to or at grade level on all of his district’s assessments. When concerns about his reading achievement were raised and an evaluation conducted,
it was found that his IQ is well above average, superior in some areas, but his reading decoding
scores are below the average range for students his age. He has a combination of some gifted
abilities and other areas that require intensive intervention. Rodney is twice-exceptional.
merica’s public schools strive to educate all children in an inclusive environment. Consequently, children of
varying skill levels all learn together in today’s classrooms. While there are individual children with distinctive
or exceptional learning needs in every classroom, some youngsters show a pattern of extreme strengths
combined with areas of significant difficulty. Like Rodney described above, these youngsters are commonly referred
to as twice-exceptional; students who have outstanding gifts or talents and are capable of high performance, but
who also have a disability that affects some aspect of learning (Brody & Mills, 1997).
Certainly, any child with a disability can also have gifts and talents. For example, a student with mental retardation can be a gifted artist or athlete. These students’ needs and gifts or talents present school staff and their
families with distinct challenges in developing appropriate programming. However, the purpose of The TwiceExceptional Dilemma is to address the specific challenges of the largest group of twice-exceptional children—
those students who have a disability and are also academically gifted.
Students who are gifted and disabled are at risk for not achieving their potential because of the relationship
that exists between their enhanced cognitive abilities and their disabilities. They are among the most frequently under-identified population in our schools. Twice-exceptional students present a unique identification
and service delivery dilemma for educators. Often educators, parents, and students are asked to choose
between services to address one exceptionality or the other, leaving twice-exceptional students both underidentified and underserved in our schools.
This guide will:
• Address identification considerations for students who are twice-exceptional
• Provide common characteristics of students who are both gifted and disabled
• Explain obstacles and learning difficulties faced by these students
• Identify the roles and responsibilities of school districts for ensuring appropriate
programming for twice-exceptional students
• Identify the roles and responsibilities of teachers for addressing the needs of
twice-exceptional students
• Suggest some adaptations, accommodations, and available resources.
section 2
Why is it important?
All of Denise’s teachers described her as a very bright girl capable of meeting and succeeding the highest
standard of work if she would only apply herself. When she was eventually evaluated for her inability to
stay on-task and her frequent inability to complete her assignments, Denise was con?rmed to have cognitive ability that was well above average and also to have attention de?cit and hyperactive disorder
(ADHD), which was making it dif?cult for her to sustain effort in a variety of situations and settings.
Why is it important for educators to know about twiceexceptional students?
ach of our students is a resource that should be developed to his or her highest potential, skill, and
competence. As described above, Denise represents a common occurrence: her high intelligence
allows her to compensate for her disability. As a result, she is able to maintain at or near grade-level performance and may not appear to qualify for special education services. Likewise, the disability may deflate
both achievement and standardized test performance so that the student is not recognized as gifted or qualified for gifted programming (Baum, 1990). Many seemingly average students are in fact students whose gifts
and disabilities mask one another. As they experience discrepancies between their strengths and weaknesses
in school, they may become frustrated leading to social, emotional, and behavioral problems.
How many twice-exceptional students are there? No one really knows. Twice-exceptional individuals are found
within every socioeconomic, cultural, racial, and ethnic population and are present in most school classrooms.
Regrettably, no federal agency or organization collects these student statistics resulting in a lack of available
empirical prevalence data.
Based upon some estimates, there are approximately 3 million academically gifted children in grades K-12 in the
United States, comprising approximately 6 percent of the total school population.1 In the 2000–2001 school
year, there were nearly 6 million students aged 6–21 served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). When these pieces of data are overlapped, it is reasonable to estimate that a comparable percentage (approximately 6 percent) of the students served by IDEA may also be academically gifted. It is also reasonable to assume that every school has twice-exceptional students whose unique
learning needs must be met.
Beyond just the numbers, there are other reasons why educators need to know about twice-exceptional students. They represent a potential national resource whose future contributions to society are largely contingent upon offering them appropriate educational experiences. Without appropriate education and services,
their discoveries, innovations, breakthroughs, leadership, and other gifts to American society go unrealized.
Although there is evidence that students can be both gifted and disabled simultaneously, limited awareness
causes many school systems not to provide services to students who are twice-exceptional. This practice is in
direct opposition to the demonstrated needs of students with dual exceptionalities. In particular, two significant obstacles negatively impact how schools service twice-exceptional students: 1) inadequate identification
procedures, and 2) the lack of access to appropriate educational experiences.
Just as students with special education needs require services along a continuum, twice-exceptional students
require a similar combination of gifted and special education. Rather than satisfaction with at or near gradelevel performance, schools should provide special services, programs, and instruction to address both giftedness and disability, thereby teaching the whole child.
1 This number is generated based on an estimate that dates back to the 1972 Marland Report to Congress, which estimated that 5–7 percent
of school children are “capable of high performance: and in need of services or activities not normally provided by the school.”
section 3
Angel has cerebral palsy. She utilizes a wheelchair and at times relies on a keyboard to express herself in words. She is also a gifted mathematician taking advanced courses three levels higher than
her same-age classmates.
Identification—Who are these students?
ngel may not come to mind as a ‘typical’ twice-exceptional student. Frankly, it is difficult to describe the
‘typical’ twice-exceptional student because of the variability demonstrated among them. The one com
mon characteristic of this group, however, is that they simultaneously possess attributes of giftedness as
well as learning, physical, social/emotional, or behavioral deficits.
Identification of twice-exceptional students is complicated. It requires both an awareness of the unique relationship between the two areas of exceptionality as well as the knowledge and capability to employ assessment and identification procedures that provide alternate vantage points for viewing both giftedness and
disability. Sometimes the disability may be hidden (e.g., ADHD, learning disability, Asperger Syndrome), which
complicates the assessment and identification process.
Experts suggest that twice-exceptional students may be found in one of the following three categories (Baum, 1990):
• Formally identified as gifted but not having an identified disability—giftedness masks disability
• Formally identified as having a disability but not gifted—disability masks giftedness
• Not formally identified as gifted or disabled—components mask one another—giftedness and the disability not readily apparent.
Let’s look at these categories more closely.
A student who is formally identi?ed as gifted but not having an identi?ed disability may:
• Go unnoticed for possible special education evaluation.
• Be considered an underachiever, often attributed to perceived laziness, poor motivation, or a low self-concept.
• Maintain grade-level expectations until the difficulty level of the curriculum increases, often during middle and high school years.
A student who is formally identi?ed as having a disability but not as gifted may:
• Be involved in programs, services, and instruction that are focused solely on remediation and/or compensation for the disability.
• Have significantly underestimated intellectual abilities due to an inadequate assessment that yielded
depressed IQ scores.
• Become bored in special programs if the services do not match their required level
of challenge.
• Be misdiagnosed as having an emotional disability.
The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma
A student who is not identi?ed disabled or gifted may:
• Be achieving at grade level and assumed to have average ability.
• Show areas of difficulty as curriculum becomes more challenging.
• Be viewed as performing within expectations and, therefore, never referred for a special education evaluation.
• Have deflated achievement and standardized test scores due to the disability and may not qualify for
gifted education services.
Types of Twice-Exceptionality
• Gifted Students with Physical Disabilities—In the majority of cases, physical disability and cognitive ability
are unrelated. Students with even the most extreme of physical disability may be classified as gifted and
in need of appropriate education services (Willard-Holt, 1994). Stephen Hawking, a Nobel prize-winning
physicist who has ALS, is an example of a person with a physical disability who is also gifted.
• Gifted Students with Sensory Disabilities—Traditional education settings are increasingly becoming more
inclusive resulting in the likelihood of gifted students with sensory disabilities (i.e., hearing impaired,
blind) attending regular education schools and requiring provisions that accommodate both their giftedness and their disability. Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, is an example of a person who had sensory disabilities and was gifted.
• Gifted Students with Asperger Syndrome—Asperger Syndrome is generally considered to be a disorder
that falls along the autism spectrum and is characterized by language and social impairments (hence,
often referred to as high functioning autistics). Aside from their deficits in social functioning, these students
are marked by a greater passion for acquiring knowledge and advanced skills in a variety of areas. Dr.
Temple Grandin, Assistant Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and accomplished
author and designer of animal facilities, has written of her experiences as an individual with autism.
• Gifted Students with Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorders—Reviews of the literature on the social-emotional aspects of giftedness indicate that gifted students are no more or less likely than their non-identified peers to experience emotional or psychosocial difficulties (Fiedler, 1999; Neihart, 1998; Robinson,
Reis, Neihart, & Moon, 2002). However, in many cases, their possible giftedness goes unrecognized as
attention is focused only on their disruptive behaviors. Princeton University professor and Nobel
prize-winning mathematician John Nash Jr., whose struggle with schizophrenia was the subject of the
movie “A Beautiful Mind,” is an example of a gifted individual who has an emotional disorder.
• Gifted Students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder—Gifted students with ADHD have difficulty
focusing their attention, completing their work, following directions, and organizing their school materials (Kaufmann, Kalbfleisch, & Castellanos, 2000; Moon, 2002). At the same time, they mirror their gifted
peers by being advanced in ability and capable of high levels of performance, particularly when their
interest is high and tasks are challenging. Nikola Tesla, a foremost inventor who helped usher in the age
of electrical power in 1887 with his patent on alternating current motors, would also be characterized as
having ADHD today.
• Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities—The largest subgroup of twice-exceptional students is those who
are gifted and also have a specific learning disability. For these students, giftedness does not immunize
them against disabilities that impact learning (such as dyslexia, receptive, and expressive language disorders). Many students with this type of profile are unidentified because their areas of strength and weakness
move them toward average performance and they appear to be in need of neither gifted nor special education services. An example of an individual who was gifted and had a learning disability was Albert Einstein who gave the world the theory of relativity even though he struggled to learn how to read.
The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma
Identification Considerations
Identification procedures for twice-exceptional students are complex and must consider assessment in both
giftedness and disability. The following considerations for identifying twice-exceptionality in students have
been suggested by specialists in the fields of gifted and special education (Brody & Mills, 1997; Johnson, Karnes,
& Carr, 1997; McCoach, Kehle, Bray, & Siegle, 2004; Nielsen, 2002; Silverman, 1989):
• Use multiple data sources for gifted programming identification: intelligence and achievement tests,
teacher reports, creativity tests, student interviews, self-referral, portfolio, and family or
peer referral.
• Avoid combining multiple pieces of data into a single score; combining scores allows lower scores to
depress the total score thereby disqualifying students with strengths from gifted programs.
• Reduce qualifying cutoff scores for gifted program to account for depression of scores due to the disability.
• Compare expected performance on statewide standardized testing as well as psycho-educational assessments with actual performance using the student’s daily classroom achievement, as well as other
authentic assessments.
• Use both formal (such as standardized tests) and informal (such as student class work) assessments.
• Conference with families about student performance outside of school.
• Be aware that identification is seldom pursued for students whose gifts and disabilities mask one
another. As such, be hyper vigilant about looking for subtle indicators of exceptionality in students.
• Use culturally sensitive assessment processes to prevent language and cultural differences from creating
bias in the identification process.
Characteristics of Gifted Students with Disabilities
The following characteristics2 may be among those observed in twice-exceptional students, particularly those
with learning disabilities (Higgins, Baldwin & Pereles, 2000; Weinfeld, Barnes-Robinson, Jeweler, & Shevitz, 2006):
• Struggle with basic skills due to cognitive processing difficulties; need to learn compensatory strategies
in order to master basic skills
• Show high verbal ability but extreme difficulty in written language area; may use language in inappropriate ways and at inappropriate times
• Experience reading problems due to cognitive processing deficits
• Demonstrate strong observation skills but have difficulty with memory skills
• Excel in solving “real-world” problems; have outstanding critical thinking and decision-making skills;
often independently develop compensatory skills
• Show attention deficit problems but may concentrate for long periods in areas of interest
• Have strong questioning attitudes; may appear disrespectful when questioning information, facts, etc.
presented by teacher
• Display unusual imagination; frequently generate original and at times rather “bizarre” ideas; extremely
divergent in thought; may appear to daydream when generating ideas
2 Please keep in mind that not all of these characteristics are seen in every twice-exceptional student. Also, specific characteristics may be
stronger in some students than they are in others.
The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma
• May be unwilling to take risks with regard to academics; take risks in non-school areas without consideration of consequences
• Can use humor to divert attention from school failure; may use humor to make fun of peers or to avoid trouble
• Appears immature since they may use anger, crying, withdrawal, etc. to express feelings and to deal
with difficulties
• Require frequent teacher support and feedback in deficit areas; highly independent in other areas; can
appear stubborn and inflexible
• Sensitive regarding disability area(s); highly critical of self and others including teachers; can express
concern about the feeling of others even while engaging in antisocial behavior
• May not be accepted by other children and may feel isolated. May be perceived as loners since they do
not fit typical model for either a gifted or a learning disabled student; sometimes have difficulty being
acc …
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