Research from the National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE; Siegle et al., 2016) indicates pullout programs are the dominant delivery model for gifted services (73% of schools), yet pullout programs seldom addressed core academic content. Only slightly over a quarter of schools in the three states NCRGE surveyed reported offering gifted programing in math. Even more alarming, only a quarter of that 25% indicated they had a math curriculum specifically designed for their gifted program related to math. The limited exposure to advanced content results in gifted students starting ahead in math achievement at grade 3, but not growing any faster than other groups by grade 5, and in some cases, gifted students actually show slower growth than their non-gifted peers (Long et al., 2019). Gifted programs are simply not providing the majority of gifted students with the necessary advanced academic content or differentiated instruction in math needed for talented students to reach their full academic potential. We propose addressing this problem by offering push-in programming in general education classrooms with an emphasis on math instruction as an add-on to the traditional pullout option seen in most schools.
Pullout refers to instruction provided by gifted specialists by removing students from general education classrooms. Pullout programs generally focus on enriching and extending the curriculum. Push-in refers to instruction provided by gifted specialists as part of the students’ usual classroom experience. Because push-in occurs in general education classrooms during academic instructional time, push-in models tend to focus on advanced content in core subjects (e.g., math, reading/language arts). The NCRGE site visit team noted that push-in services were less prevalent than pullout services but occurred more often at the schools that NCRGE identified as having higher than expected levels of reading/language arts and math growth. Therefore, push-in services show promise for developing gifted students’ math skills.
The primary goal of our project is to ensure that talented math students, including students from underserved populations, receive services that allow them to make continuous progress and excel in math by using the pedagogy of advanced instructional practices in general education classrooms. This project has the potential to change the way gifted students are served. We will achieve this not by asking schools to abandon the pullout service model to which they are wed, but to supplement it with a push-in model that shows promise at addressing advanced academic needs. The proposed intervention implements push-in programming to supplement already existing pullout services for gifted students. Gifted specialists who are responsible for providing pullout services to gifted students will dedicate 3 hours per week/per class collaborating and co- teaching in general education classrooms of identified gifted students with those students’ general education teachers. The special education field has a history of implementing a similar push-in model with students who have difficulty learning (Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007) and the model has been shown to be effective in other core subject areas (Coyne et al., 2016).