Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Alicia Fedewa

Second Advisor

Dr. H. Tom Prout


The accurate and timely referral and identification of twice-exceptional students remains a challenge. In a statewide study, the referral decisions for both special education and gifted programming evaluations made by four participant groups (i.e., general education teachers, special education teachers, gifted education teachers, and school psychologists) were compared. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of three identically described students in a vignette that differed only in the presence of a diagnostic label—autism spectrum disorder (ASD), specific learning disability (SLD), or no diagnostic label. In all, special education teachers made the most special education referrals, while gifted education teachers made the most gifted programming referrals, both regardless of the diagnostic label present. The students with diagnostic labels were recommended for special education referrals significantly more than for gifted programming, while this difference was not evident in the no diagnostic label condition. Moreover, the student with the ASD label was the most likely to be referred for evaluations for both special education and gifted programming out of all three vignette conditions. Overall findings indicated the importance of considering the referral source as well as how the presence of a diagnostic label might influence educational referral decisions, particularly in how this might influence overall multidisciplinary team decisions for these unique learners.