The following is an excerpt from a piece in the Summer 2021 issue of Variations2e magazine, which is now available for purchase.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE with twice-exceptional (2e) and thrice-exceptional (3e) students was as a special-education teacher back in the middle to late 1980s, more than 35 years ago. At that time, there was no such label, no research. I recall thinking, “How can a student be so smart in a specific core academic area but unable to read, write, or do basic calculations?” As a novice teacher, I focused on the disability, not knowing any better. I had a self-contained classroom of 12 students, covering Grades 3-5 who were all Hispanic, primarily Spanish-speaking, and low-income. They had either a specific learning disability, were emotionally disturbed, or had a behavioral disorder. The vast majority of teaching was conducted in Spanish.
One student, Leonardo, had a specific learning disability in reading and writing and was slightly below his grade level in math. He would often crawl under his desk and remain there. He was impulsive, emotional, and difficult to handle. However, he excelled in science, knowing facts and explicit details about any number of topics related to animals and dinosaurs. Even when I mainstreamed him into a regular third–grade science class, the teacher was astounded by his overall science knowledge. Today, Leonardo would most likely be eligible for a program serving twice-exceptional students in science.
e = Exceptional (gifted)
2e = Twice-Exceptional (gifted with a learning difference)
3e = Thrice-Exceptional (twice-exceptional from a historically underserved racial, cultural, ethnic, and/or linguistic background)
Today, the field of gifted education has come a long way in serving 2e students. Empirical research is available, materials and programs for this unique population of students have been developed, professional growth and development is offered, and advocacy efforts have advanced tenfold. Despite these advances, there remain gaps in serving low-income, racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse students who also struggle with a learning difference or disability.
The tables below offer both big-picture (macro) and practical (micro) perspectives about how today’s educators can effectively identify and serve diverse gifted learners with exceptional conditions across multiple areas. …