Theory of Change

There are a number of reasons why the addition of a push-in program to an existing pullout gifted program can improve gifted students’ math achievement and help identify more underserved students.

  • The addition of a push-in component to pullout programming creates a connection between traditional pullout services for gifted students that are the dominant program delivery option and students’ classroom learning environment, where gifted students typically spend the majority of their time (Reis, Renzulli, & Burns, 2016).
  • Gifted and talented services are often perceived as elitist and separate from other school services (Borland, 2005). A combination of pullout and push-in has the potential to break down this elitist barrier.
  • Gifted specialists collaborating with classroom teachers and working with gifted students in their students’ traditional classrooms exposes classroom teachers to gifted education pedagogy while providing gifted students with more appropriate instruction at advanced levels for a longer period of time. Classroom teachers will better understand the importance of providing gifted students with challenging and intellectually stimulating activities within core academic areas as they first observe gifted specialists providing these services and later as they apply the services
  • The co-teaching that occurs with push-in “draws on the strength of both the general educator, who understands the structure, content, and pacing of the general education curriculum, and special educator, who can identify unique learning needs of individual students and enhance curriculum and instruction. . .” (Zigmond & Magiera, 2001, p. 2).
  • The push-in also extends the instructional time devoted to special services for gifted students. Gallagher (2000) cautioned against accepting insufficient time for gifted services, which he described as “a nontherapeutic educational dosage, that no one can really defend as good education for gifted students, but many of us tolerate through silence” (p. 10). Increased exposure to advanced content matched to gifted students’ advanced learning needs in the classroom can encourage higher achievement and enjoyment of learning for gifted
  • Classroom teachers will also observe differences in how giftedness manifests itself within different populations, which should improve their ability to identify underserved gifted students (Castellano & Frazier, 2011).
  • Push-in exposes gifted specialists to a wider population of students while they are in the classroom, which will include high achieving students from underserved populations not already identified as gifted. Our project plan includes push-in services for an additional number of high achieving math students who have not been formally identified as gifted. Card and Giuliano (2015) found that non-gifted “high achievers” benefited academically from gifted services. Gubbins et al. (under review) found that schools identified more underserved students when they strove to establish a “Web of Communication” where all personnel were talent scouts to identify students’
  • The gifted specialists’ experiences working with classroom teachers in math may prompt modifications to the services provided in the gifted pullout program. Specifically, specialists may begin to focus more on advanced content and extensions in core academic areas within the pullout