Guest Blog: Meeting the Needs of Twice-Exceptional Learners

By Emily Kircher-Morris​ – Guest Author

2e FI

Twice-exceptional (2e) learners often need support for both their advanced cognitive abilities and their areas of struggle, however research shows that once students are identified for gifted or special education services, they are not referred for the other (Foley-Nicpon & Kim, 2018). This presentation will explore identification issues for twice-exceptional students, including recommendations for enhancing communication between gifted and special education departments, assessment tools useful for identifying twice-exceptional learners, and common obstacles facing the identification of 2e students.

Educators who are prepared to recognize, identify, and provide services for 2e learners will provide a valuable service for a group of students that has been traditionally under-recognized (Assouline, Nicpon & Whiteman, 2010). Lack of opportunities for collaboration between educators and limited awareness of qualifying criteria for either gifted or special education services limits educators’ ability to advocate for twice-exceptional students. Educators who attend this session will be equipped to overcome these obstacles when they return to their schools.

Twice-exceptional learners who are not identified and do not receive appropriate services or accommodations struggle with a range of negative academic, social, and emotional outcomes, such as learned helplessness, anxiety, and depression (Reis, Baum, & Burke, 2014). This session will raise awareness about this often-underserved population of students. The presenter will also address the struggles facing “3e” students – students who are not only twice-exceptional, but also come from a culturally diverse or economically disadvantaged background (Kaufman, 2018).

Following this presentation, attendees will be able to:
1. Recognize the obstacles facing appropriate identification and placement in gifted and special education programs for twice-exceptional students.
2. Utilize common assessment tools to recognize unnoticed exceptionalities for 2e learners.
3. Develop strategies to build collaborative practices between special education and gifted education departments in their schools.

The National Association for Gifted Children published a position statement in 2013 titled “Ensuring Gifted Children with Disabilities Receive Appropriate Services: Call for Comprehensive Assessment.” This position statement included 5 strategies that can ensure twice-exceptional learners receive the services and support they need. This proposal works directly toward two of the suggested strategies: “Provide training for teachers and other school professionals on the nature of and performance patterns of twice-exceptional students to improve identification and raise academic expectations,” and “Provide comprehensive assessment (including norm-based, psychometrically sound, comprehensive individual intelligence and achievement tests and measures in all areas of suspected strength and disability) whenever a disability or second exceptionality is suspected in a gifted child or when students identified with a disability show signs of advanced reasoning, creativity, or problem solving.”

  • Assouline, S. G., Nicpon, M. F., & Whiteman, C. (2010). Cognitive and Psychosocial Characteristics of Gifted Students With Written Language Disability. Gifted Child Quarterly, 54(2), 102-115. doi:10.1177/0016986209355974
  • Foley-Nicpon M., Kim J.Y.C. (2018) Identifying and Providing Evidence-Based Services for Twice-Exceptional Students. In: Pfeiffer S. (eds) APA handbook of giftedness and talent. APA Handbooks in Psychology(r).
  • Kaufman, S. B. (2018). Being 3e, a new look at culturally diverse gifted learners with exceptional conditions: An examination of the issues and solutions for educators and families. In Twice exceptional: Supporting and educating bright and creative students with learning difficulties (pp. 278-289). Oxford University Press.
  • National Association for Gifted Children. (2013). Ensuring gifted children with disabilities receive appropriate services: Call for comprehensive assessment.
  • Reis, S. M., Baum, S. M., & Burke, E. (2014). An operational definition of twice-exceptional learners. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(3), 217-230. doi:10.1177/0016986214534976

 To hear more from Emily, check out her Neurodiversity Podcast and join us on May 19th.


twice_exceptional flyer


MTSS Event: Designing Classroom-Based Instruction and Intervention that Improves Learning for ALL

We invite you to explore creative, research-based and evidence-based systems and practices to help make your instruction, interventions, assessments, and learning environment the most effective for ALL students. Engage in interactive virtual sessions, keynotes and/or...

3 Dimensions of Science Teaching and Learning

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is in the process of adopting new science standards for grades K-12. The science standards are based on the National Research Council's (NRC) Framework for science education. The NRC Framework includes three dimensions that are...

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month #WeHealUS

May is designated nationally as Mental Health Awareness Month. According to Dr. Dana Milakovic, Pennsylvania’s Office for Safe Schools, “Numerous partners are joining the movement in Pennsylvania to raise awareness around trauma and mental health. Pennsylvania...

Talking EdTech with MCIU: Class Technologies

click to play videoBrandon Langer meets with Jason Bedford and Eric Ferrone of Class Technologies to discuss the future of K-12 education, and how is supporting a reimagination of the classroom to address the challenges that face schools today. 00:00 - Start...

Demystifying Risk Ratio

When you see a difference in the experience of your students, how do you know how relevant that risk or experience may be? What is significant versus what is a difference or typical variation in a diverse learning setting? When you have limited time, staff, and...

UDL Virtual Learning at MCIU: Exploring How Design Can Influence the Virtual Learning Experience

This pandemic hit fast and hard and has really shaken up the way we think about learning, however UDLPartners was weirdly equipped for the moment because of the mindset fostered by Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  Now, more than ever, we feel it is the moment for...

Person First or Identity First Language

By Cassie Brusch - Project ConsultantOver the course of the 2000s, we have often been encouraged to use Person-First Language when speaking about individuals with disabilities. More recently, Identity-First Language has been introduced. As we navigate the...

STEM Micro PD: Number Sense

[iframe_loader type='lightbox' href='/wp-content/uploads/articulate_uploads/NumberSense-done/index.html' button=''...