By Rose Blackett.
(Editor’s Note: This piece by SENG Director and New Zealand Association for Gifted Children (NZAGC) President Rose Blackett is part of the 2012 National Parenting Gifted Week Blog Tour. Be sure to check out the full schedule of blogs and follow along!)
“Gifted children with learning disabilities are invisible in most school systems because they are not failing….
Not failing school…..
But they are failing to realize their intellectual and creative potential”
~ Layne Kalbfleisch
As a psychologist and educator, I am passionate about the needs of twice exceptional (2E) students. I believe they are a minority group who are often not recognized or catered for within our education system. Gifted students with disabilities are at-risk, as their educational and social/emotional needs often go undetected. Educators often incorrectly believe twice-exceptional students are not putting in adequate effort within the classroom. They are often described as “lazy” and “unmotivated.” Hidden disabilities may prevent students with advanced cognitive abilities from achieving high academic results.
These are some useful tips I compiled for professionals in New Zealand when identifying 2E students:
· For assessment of 2E students, or students who you suspect may be 2E, try oral questioning instead of formal written testing. This can help to avoid the difficulties that may arise when a student experiences processing difficulties. If the students are using a great deal of cognitive energy attempting to read the question, the cognitive energy left for formulating the answer can be significantly reduced. The answer written often does not reflect the students’ actual knowledge; rather, it reflects their reading, fine motor, or writing difficulties.
· Another option might be to enlist a writer to record answers. If writing or spelling is difficult for these students, you will receive a reduced output on written testing, usually limited to simplistic language as they attempt to reduce both the amount of writing that is required and the complexity of spelling (which may be beyond them). The quality and complexity of the answers will usually dramatically increase if the student has the opportunity to demonstrate their actual knowledge without the challenge of having to write it down.
· Does the test have to be time limited? And can you extend the time available to the student to demonstrate their knowledge? If other students question why extra time is given, offer it to them as well – not many students will willingly spend more time on a test unless they really need it.
· Raven’s Matrices (or a similar tool) can also be useful as this is a non-verbal cognition screen. This may show gifted visual-spatial students and is considered more culturally fair than many other screening tools. Teachers can administer Raven’s Matrices. It is currently under review but is available for purchase through New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER).
· 2E students often score well on short-answer tests (e.g., ICAS competitions). Look out for a students who scores unexpectedly high using this format, and consider if they are possible candidates for your school’s gifted register.
For further information, please visit the NZ Ministry of Education website, where I have written on 2E students and how teachers can support and cater for them. ________________________________________________________
Rose Blackett, SENG Director and President of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children (NZAGC), is a registered educational psychologist with over twenty years experience in the education system. She has worked at the primary, intermediate, secondary and tertiary levels. She has developed extensive knowledge in working with children who are challenged by the education system and has presented at national and international conferences and workshops on a range of educational topics. Her special interest areas include: specific learning disabilities, children’s social and emotional development, parenting, giftedness and sensory processing.