In the U.S., 9 percent of all school-aged children receive services under federally-supported special education programs. That adds up to more than six million students, according to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, the publisher of "Education Week" and "Teacher Magazine."

Simple Definition

The simple definition of a special education pull-out program is a program that takes a student out of the regular classroom during the typical school day and places them in alternative programming, according to the National Association for Gifted Children.

Reasons for Pull-Out

Pull-out programs for children with special needs, including learning disabled, gifted or emotionally disturbed, are intended to provide the student with instruction in smaller class settings and with more individualized instruction. The goal is to give the student a better chance of success.


One in five special education students spends more than 60 percent of school hours outside the regular classroom, despite the key phrase "least restrictive environment" that is found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Issues with Pull-Out Programs

One issue with pull-out programs is the social aspect of alienation of special needs students from the regular education population, leading to teasing or feelings of isolation.


The positive side of pull-out programs is the chance special needs students receive to have curriculum delivered in a setting at their individual level to help them stay close to grade-level, particularly in their core subjects.

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