- "Twice exceptional" – or 2e — students are those with higher than average academic aptitude as well as other identifiable needs such as ADHD, mild forms of autism, dyslexia or other challenges that interfere with their learning in the same way as their peers. And because of that mix of factors, schools often struggle to find ways to meet these students' needs within classroom settings normally offered, according to The Hechinger Report.
- Some school districts are experimenting with better ways to teach 2e students by training teachers about the issue, offering tailored programs and classes, or paying for these students to attend private schools offering better resources. In New York City, the expense of this last approach, which is often provided only after lawsuits by parents, is leading the system to reexamine its approach and commit to finding better solutions.
- Because twice exceptional status is often hard to identify and prove, it often requires a high degree of advocacy and investment on the part of parents to get these students the testing and help they need. As a result, many parents who are poor or lack access to these resources for other reasons are not able to help their children get the help they need, creating more disparity in the system.
Students don’t always fall under one specific label because they are individuals. Some students labeled as having disabilities are exceptionally gifted as well. And some students who are labeled as gifted face learning, social or behavioral challenges that may create problems for them in a traditional classroom setting unless those challenges are understood and addressed.
School leaders often struggle with placement of twice exceptional or 2e students who need support but can make great strides in education. Some districts, like Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, have taken great pains to provide programs and services that can help meet the needs of these students and to train teachers in identifying and supporting them. These programs offer valuable ideas that can be replicated or scaled to the needs of other school districts.
Dealing with twice exceptional students can pose a dilemma, as separating these students from traditional classrooms entirely is usually not the answer. In fact, including most exceptional students in traditional classroom frameworks is often advantageous. New technologies and resources are making inclusivity more possible than ever, and accessibility is a frequent consideration when new resources are adopted into classrooms.
However, these students may require a more personalized approach to education, which is actually beneficial to all students because everyone learns at different rates and in different ways. Approaches such as Universal Design for Learning offer flexibility that increases inclusivity and allows more students to learn together with consideration for their individual differences.
Students with special needs, including twice exceptional students, may require smaller class sizes or more access to support staff and resources. These issues need to be taken into consideration while recognizing that they may not be easily identified or fit traditional molds, as 2e students can excel significantly if they are served in an understanding and supportive way.