Twice Exceptional Students – Falling Through the Cracks?

What is a twice exceptional student? The simple answer – gifted students with special needs. But with education, nothing is ever simple.

“Diamonds are rare. Two hundred fifty tons of rock, sand, and gravel must be processed to yield one carat of polished diamond.” The diamond that is a twice exceptional student is likewise rare and often unidentified because of their brilliance and roughness.

A student is considered “gifted” if they ‘possess outstanding abilities in the areas of general intellectual capabilities, specific academic aptitudes or the arts.’ This definition does not, however, mean that a gifted student does not have any deficits that must be addressed.

Often, gifted students experience hurdles to their learning that prevent them from reaching their true potential. They often slip through the cracks because their performance (not at their potential) still results in decent grades. These students may still receive A’s and B’s or B’s and C’s despite the potential for more. In the early grades, they are able to fight through diversity and do well enough to go unnoticed.

Others may excel in one area of academics and struggle in another – creating the appearance of a student who is “doing okay.” Often students identified as “gifted” exhibit difficulties in school and may often be considered underachievers. “They may be working at or near grade level and their underachievement may be attributed to poor self-concept, lack of motivation, or laziness. Their superior gifts may be masking their learning disability”

Educators and schools must be diligent in identifying not only obvious unique needs of students, but those who are twice exceptional to prevent any student from falling through the cracks.

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