A government reminder to schools: Don’t overlook twice-exceptional kids

Many gifted children also have learning or thinking differences. But if they’re doing well in school, their issues may not be recognized. Schools can be reluctant to evaluate kids like these for special education services.

So in 2015, the Department of Education (ED) issued a reminder. The message? Students who are “twice exceptional” are entitled to evaluations, too.

Melody Musgrove was director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the Department of Education. She sent the reminder to state special education directors in April.

Her memo talked about “children with disabilities with high cognition.” It stated that they’re also covered by the (IDEA). And it asked the state directors to remind schools: They must evaluate all children who may have a disability.

There’s another side to this situation, too. Kids who do get IDEA services are often shut out of gifted programs. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) reported on this in 2014. And the Civil Rights Data Collection shows that twice-exceptional kids are underrepresented in gifted programs.

“Too often, kids with learning and thinking differences are precluded from participating in gifted programs,” says Lindsay Jones. She’s the director of public policy and advocacy at NCLD. Jones adds that schools often believe these kids can’t achieve in these classes, but that’s not true.

Jones thinks that Musgrove’s memo and this data can be useful to parents of twice-exceptional kids. “These are great tools to help parents start important conversations with their schools,” she says. Such talks, ideally, can “ensure that all children get what they need to truly thrive.”

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