Gifted Students, Twice Exceptional

Is your child gifted? For many parents and educators, that question falls under the same category as another question: Is your child beautiful? Like beauty, its definition lies in the eye of the beholder.

Currently, there is no consensus on the definition of giftedness, and every state has its own definition. The National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) compiled a list of definitions by state. This is New Jersey’s view on gifted students:

Gifted and talented students means those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local school district and who require modifications of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJ DOE) holds district boards of education responsible for identifying gifted and talented students between kindergarten and grade 12 and providing them with appropriate instructional adaptations and services.

There is much difficulty meeting that responsibility, because, as the NAGC notes, most classroom teachers are not trained or knowledgeable about how to identify gifted children.

Few general teacher preparation programs provide instruction on the needs of gifted and talented students, and as a result, the majority of teachers in classrooms today have not been trained to meet the learning needs of these students.

In New Jersey, district boards of education are required to develop appropriate curricular and instructional modifications used for gifted and talented students indicating content, process, products, and learning environment. The NJ DOE also states that district boards of education take into consideration the Pre-K through grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards of the National Association for Gifted Children in developing programs for gifted and talented students. The NAGC will be releasing its new standards early 2014.

In the population of gifted children there is group of children called Twice Exceptional. These children possess abilities in specific areas that far surpass their chronological peers, but they exhibit characteristics the United States federal government deems qualifications for special education. The Twice Exceptional are more likely to be placed in Special Education than Gifted and Talented programs.

Dr. Don Ambrose, Editor of The Roeper Review, and James Maher, Assistant Head of School of The Cambridge School in Pennington, New Jersey, share with us their knowledge and experiences with gifted children who possess a duality that leads them to be placed into special education.

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