Hispanics Struggle to Find Twice-Exceptional Identity

This series on ethnicity and 2e takes a closer look at how twice-exceptionality intersects with ethnic stereotypes, often adding another layer of “difference” to students. Also see “Taming the ‘Tiger Mom’ Stereotype” and “To Be Gifted, Learning Challenged, and Black.” 

Identifying giftedness or twice-exceptionality is always challenging. A language and cultural barrier makes it more so. Conversations about neurodiversity can overlook additional barriers to gifted services that exist for ethnically diverse students. According to a 2016 New York Times article, white students are twice as likely to be identified for giftedness (or twice-exceptionality) as black and Hispanic students.

However, when non-verbal IQ tests were administered to Hispanic children in Broward County, Florida, between 2005-2010, the percentage of those students identified as gifted tripled. But this program was discontinued due to budget cuts. In 2012, officials implemented a modified version relying more on verbal ability but failed to produce the same results.

One reason the non-verbal tests were effective in discovering the hidden gifts of Hispanic children, according to the Times, is that they tried to neutralize the cultural and language discrepancies. These tests also do not rely on teachers’ expectations of those children, which tend to be low.

“Many schools will wait for students to be English proficient before they test for giftedness,” said Dr. Joy Esquierdo, a professor of bilingual literacy and giftedness at the University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley. While some schools may test in Spanish, that approach has its own complications. “Unless the child is getting educated in their native language, that may not be the best source. Th...


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About Stuart Matranga

Stuart Matranga is an author and journalist who has written for Rolling Stone, Maxim, and other magazines. As a teacher, he specializes in students who are reluctant readers. Stuart has extensive experience teaching and working with twice-exceptional students.