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Twice-Exceptional Schools: Understanding the Characteristics & Benefits

Gifted and Twice-Exceptional

Twice-exceptional, also known as “2e”, students are intellectually gifted individuals who have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder. Much like their gifted peers, they often exhibit heightened emotional and intellectual sensitivity, among other identifiers.

A twice-exceptional student’s journey is marked by challenges in tasks that come easily to others, due to uneven development and learning differences. The twice-exceptional demographic is relatively underserved due to lacking identification procedures in most school districts. Additionally, these students—whose gifts and disabilities often mask one another—are difficult to pick out. Without suitable educational support, twice-exceptional students may never fully realize their potential.

Luckily, there are plenty of resources available, including learning environments carefully crafted with gifted and twice-exceptional students in mind.

What is a Twice-Exceptional School?

A twice-exceptional school is an educational setting that caters to gifted and twice-exceptional students. These institutions are dedicated to providing specialized support for those who get left behind with public school curricula.

The following are characteristics of a twice-exceptional school:

  • Comprehensive identification procedures to ensure your twice-exceptional child is suitable for the learning environment
  • Faculty and educators who both understand and empathize with these students
  • Curriculum designed with gifted and twice-exceptional students in mind (i.e., pacing of lessons, modes of instruction, use of thematic units, etc.)
  • Support for students’ social and emotional development

It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to matching your child with the right learning environment. When you are vetting potential schools, be sure to ask a lot of questions about the aforementioned characteristics of a twice-exceptional school to confirm your child is met with the right educational support.

For more information about educational environments for twice-exceptional students, continue reading with this article.

The Benefit of Attending a Twice-Exceptional School

Children diagnosed with learning disabilities receive a tailored learning curriculum—either an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan—when in public school. While these are both aimed at accommodating students’ special educational needs, they can vary heavily between districts.

Recognizing their distinctive abilities and needs, twice-exceptional students benefit from a specialized blend of educational programs and empathetic counseling support aimed at nurturing their growth. That is what they will find at a twice-exceptional school.

Davidson Academy Excels as a Twice-Exceptional School

Davidson Academy stands out as an exceptional twice-exceptional school due to  its qualified educators and unique teaching methods.

A Dedicated Staff

The faculty, including licensed teachers and university professors, are selected not only for their qualifications but also for their passion, warmth, and ingenuity. The Student Service Team (SST), composed of school counselors and staff, collaboratively creates and monitors each student’s Prospective Learning Plan (PLP), offering a broad range of support services tailored to each individual.

Thoughtful Strategies in the Classroom

Davidson Academy’s teaching approach focuses on nurturing critical thinking skills and understanding the individual needs of profoundly gifted students, allowing for advanced-level classes that encourage debate and creative expression. 

In 1998, the National Association for Gifted Children called for twice-exceptional children to receive “a dually differentiated program: one that nurtures their gifts and talents while accommodating for learning weaknesses” (para. 6). This dually differentiated program is also called a “strengths-based approach.” Davidson Academy embraces this approach, recognizing the unique strengths and talents of each student while providing appropriate support in areas of challenge, creating an environment where students can grow and thrive.

The core of the Davidson Academy’s pedagogy centers on rigorous, personalized curricula that emphasizes higher-order thinking, groupings based on demonstrated ability rather than age (leading to smaller, more intimate class sizes), and an emphasis on discussion. Students have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning to enhance their educational experience. The academy also offers independent study options and internships, connecting students with real-world opportunities and research experiences.

Prospective Learning Plans

As mentioned, Davidson Academy Online uses Prospective Learning Plans to customize curriculum to students while also providing a unique learning environment suited for gifted students’ needs.

The key difference between Gifted Individualized Education Plans (GIEPs) and PLPs lies in their approach to addressing the needs of gifted students. While GIEPs are annual documents tailored to supplement traditional education with personalized learning strategies, PLPs are comprehensive and continuous plans designed to foster the complete development of gifted students, including social and emotional development. Thus, PLPs bridge the gap that GIEPs may not address fully and empower gifted students in online learning environments.

Social and Emotional Development

Davidson Academy emphasizes the importance of not only intellectual growth, but also strong social connections among students, fostering a sense of belonging. Through a school-wide philosophy, activities, and collaborative efforts from faculty, parents, and students alike, this twice-exceptional school is able to support the social and emotional well-being of its attendees.

Think Davidson Academy is the Right Fit?

Get more information about how to apply to Davidson Academy’s Reno campus.

Additional resources for twice-exceptional students and their parents:


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Please note, the Davidson Institute is a non-profit serving families with highly gifted children. We will not post comments that are considered soliciting, mention illicit topics, or share highly personal information.

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