Pull-Out Programs/Specialized Classes

Gifted programming can be provided in a combination of ways, including pull-out programs; special classes in a subject or interest area; special state schools (e.g., Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities) or local magnet schools; afterschool, Saturday, or summer programs; Advanced Placement, International Baccaleaureate, or other dual-enrollment courses; distance learning; and other similar services.

  • In a study of four provisions for teaching mathematically talented students, one researcher found positive effects for using pull-out grouping to include good interaction between teachers and students, significant progress in level of skills, and increases in motivation. In a mathematics pull-out group with same-age peers, where the students were pulled from different classes other than their regular mathematics instruction, the teacher reported that the group met the needs of her students who showed more ability in mathematics, increased their motivation, and evidenced students’ learning new knowledge. The students in the group shared positive attitudes toward the group and the chance to work with similar ability peers. In a second group, which included peers of different ages and abilities within their regular math class, all of the children progressed to the highest level of attainment on the math assessment by the end of the term. These children also reported positive feelings toward the group, and the teacher felt confident their needs had been met at the close of the service. [1]
  • Additionally, the students in a pull-out program in grades 3-6 in South Korea said they felt their pull-out classes had significantly higher levels of interest, challenge, and enjoyment in their pull-out classes than their regular classes. After a review of literature on pull-out programs, the researchers for this study noted that teachers knowledgeable about gifted education in combination with more advanced curricula resulted in students’ satisfaction pull-out programs. [2]
  • A longitudinal study of identified gifted students reported that, at age 33, 70% of the students who had taken one or more AP courses or exams in high school had advanced degrees, compared to 43% of those who had not taken such courses. The students who took AP courses also appeared more satisfied with the intellectual caliber of their high school experience than their peers. [3] However, schools should note that AP and IB courses should not be considered the sole components of a gifted program. NAGC advises that the limitations of AP coursework mean that districts must offer additional curriculum options to be considered as having gifted and talented services. [4]
  • Students may also receive services in a specialized state or local magnet school. In one study of specialized math and science high schools, 99% of the students went on to earn a bachelor's degree or higher, with over 50% of the students continuing in challenging science or math fields. [5] Students who attend magnet schools are more likely to commit to succeeding in school, leading them to experience greater satisfaction and improved achievement. Magnet school programs also often work hard to keep their course offerings innovative and challenging to remain competitive among other offerings for advanced students.  [6]
  • Out-of-school options for programming may include specialized courses or programs like the Catalyst Program, a special science course for adolescents with deep interests chemistry. The students in the course felt they improved their ability to present their scientific ideas more effectively and developed a better understanding of the creative process in science research. When surveyed, 18 of the 23 students in the course said it impacted their decision to study the sciences, particularly science research. Additionally 10 of the 23 students suggested the program increased their interest in pursuing research opportunities in general in college. The students also felt they benefited from the intense immersion in science research and the chance to receive mentorships and work with science professionals. [7] Other researchers have also found that students out-of-school enrichment programs such as Saturday programs have reported high levels of interest, challenge, choice, and enjoyment in these course offerings. [8]
  • Another out-of-school option may include enrolling gifted students in specialized distance learning courses (often provided through talent search programs). In a study of the distance learning programs offered through Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, outcomes of the program for gifted students ages 5-17 were examined by looking at both student and parent evaluations and final grades for the courses. Overall, the students and their parents found the course an effective learning experience, suggesting that such programs can be an effective approach for enriching or accelerating in-school opportunities. [9]


[1] Dimitriadis, C. (2012b). Provision for mathematically gifted children in primary schools: An investigation of four different methods of organizational provision. Educational Review, 64, 241–260.
[2] Yang, Y., Gentry, M., & Choi, Y. O. (2012). Gifted students’ perceptions of the regular classes and pull-out programs in South Korea. Journal of Advanced Academics, 23, 270–287.
[3] Bleske-Rechek, A., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. (2004). Meeting the educational needs of special populations: Advanced Placement’s role in developing exceptional human capital. Psychological Science, 15, 217–224.
[4] National Association for Gifted Children. (2008). Common gifted education myths. Retrieved from http://www.nagc.org/commonmyths.aspx
?[5] Thomas, J. (2000). First year findings: NCSSSMST longitudinal study. NCSSSMST Journal, 5(2), 4–5. Retrieved from http://ncsssmst.org/conf/100033/JournalS00.pdf??
[6] Thompson, L. (2011). Magnet schools: Offering distinctive learning opportunities. Duke TIP Digest of Gifted Research. Retrieved from https://tip.duke.edu/node/790
[7] Subotnik, R. F., Edmiston, A. M., Cook, L., & Ross, M. D. (2010). Mentoring for talent development, creativity, social skills, and insider knowledge: The APA Catalyst Program. Journal of Advanced Academics, 21, 714–739.
[8] Pereira, N., Peters, S., & Gentry, M. (2010). The My Class Activities instrument as used in Saturday enrichment program evaluation. Journal of Advanced Academics, 21, 568–593.
[9] Wallace, P. (2009). Distance learning for gifted students: Outcomes for elementary, middle, and high school students. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 32, 295–320. Retrieved from http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articlesid10610.aspx

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