It really depends on the school. Many highly gifted (and HG applicable) kids do attend regular gifted magnets or SAS programs because of the additional programs they offer.
The IHP program at Walter Reed stands out as small and continually phenomenal for students. They only admit 60 kids each year.
SAS and magnet are essentially the same on paper, but programs vary wildly on quality. And some schools have both SAS and a gifted magnet on the same campus!
As you probably know, there are kids who test highly gifted (who test at the 99.9% level), HG applicable (99.6 to 99.8%), gifted, and also high ability. Many of these kids attend the same magnets/SAS programs.
You have to choose the program that offers your child the best mix of programs (electives, sports) that will appeal to your child.
I've had one HG and one HG applicable child. One went to gifted magnets until high school. The other is in a highly regarded SAS.
Look less at the designation and more at what your child will get out of it. Middle school is the toughest level of school, because the schools tend to be larger, and the kids are starting to grown into their own identities. Also as parents, we tend to be less involved and we're not quite as visible on campus, so it's important that it's a safe place, with great kids for your child to be spending their time with.
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