Since the No Child Left Behind act five years ago, there has been much talk about various groups of children being “left behind”. As society and as educators, we group children into categories by learning abilities, race, economical status, gender, and so on. We then examine the different groups and track to see which groups are succeeding or falling behind.
The latest group of children to be evaluated is a group that I never had really thought about. This group is the twice-exceptional students. They are high-ability children with learning disabilities or differences. These children are academically gifted but also have a learning disability. Even though I know that these students exist, I had never put much thought into their educational needs. The majority of learning disability children that I have encountered have been academically average or low.
A recent survey suggested that perhaps schools are not meeting the needs of these children. It is estimated that twice-exceptional children make up about 20 percent of all gifted students.
The majority of respondents in the survey were parents. Most of the children attended public schools. Only 50 percent of the responding parents answered that the school was striving to meet the needs of their child. When asked how the schools could improve, the answer seen the most was for the school to understand and acknowledge that a child can be both gifted and have a learning disorder.
The teachers in the survey were asked to identify if they felt their school was doing all it can for various groups of students. Regular education students received 95 percent of the teachers’ confidence, while 83 percent went for special education students. Gifted students had 76 percent and twice-exceptional students only received 54 percent.
The survey helped determine that twice-exceptional students are in need of more attention. While special education teachers can address the learning disability, the programs are usually set-up for struggling learners. Therefore, twice-exceptional students may be in need of their own programs or services. There also needs to be an increase in awareness and training on how to deal with this group of students.
I can easily see how parents, teachers, and schools could fail to meet the needs of these students. As a teacher, I am not educated on dealing with this group of students. They do not fall into a typical category that society has created. Therefore, we must look outside of the box to find a way to meet their needs.