The Public School Parent's Network                    
 
A Resource Guide and Information Source for Parents

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnet Schools in
Public Education
 


 

PSPN

   As parents voices grow louder with dissatisfaction of the public school system as it exist today, government concerns have taken certain steps to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak.  Magnet schools and charter schools are two of the options that we have been presented with.  The US Department of Education's  definition is as follows: 

(excerpt) ... the term "magnet school" means a public elementary school, public secondary school, public elementary education center, or public secondary education center that offers a special curriculum capable of attracting substantial numbers of students of different racial backgrounds. (more)

  The following links are provided to help parents answer the questions they have about Magnet Schools, their structure, and what they offer our children as an option to traditional public schools.


Excellent Information Source to Locate District Schools


What Are Magnet Schools?

Magnets have their roots in the concept of district-wide specialty schools. Magnets offer special curricula, such as math-science or performing arts programs, or special instructional approaches, such as academic achievement through application of Gardner's learning styles.

During the late 1970's, school districts began to employ magnet schools as a means of desegregating school systems. Magnets were intended to provide incentives for parents to remain in the public school system and to send their children to integrated schools. Often, magnet programs were placed in racially isolated schools or neighborhoods to encourage students of other races to enroll in those schools. If sufficient numbers of white and minority students enrolled in schools outside of their neighborhoods, districts could promote school desegregation without resorting to mandatory measures. At the same time, by introducing innovative curricula and instructional approaches, magnets could strengthen the educational program in those schools, contributing to overall improvements in educational quality.

Magnet schools today have three distinguishing characteristics:
  1. They provide a distinctive curriculum or instructional approach;
  2. They attract students from outside an assigned neighborhood attendance zone;
  3. They have diversity as an explicit purpose.

Goals for Magnet Schools

The districts magnet schools have three goals:

    1. Promote and Maintain Diversity.
    2. Provide a unique or specialized curriculum or educational approach; and
    3. Improve achievement for all students participating in the magnet programs.

Education Commission of the States: 
Magnet Schools

(excerpt)  To facilitate public school desegregation, many states and school districts have created magnet schools, which provide specialized curriculums and instructional approaches to attract students from a variety of neighborhoods in a metropolitan area. Often, enrollment for magnet schools is regulated to ensure schools remain racially balanced; enrollment is controlled in a variety of ways, including admissions criteria, first-come, first-served applications, lotteries and/or percentage set-asides for neighborhood residents.

One of the strengths of magnet schools is their ability to establish a unique focus such as gifted and talented, math and science or basic-skills programs. In addition, principals of some magnets are given more autonomy over certain decisions, including recruiting teachers. For example, principals of certain magnets may interview anyone in the school district’s teacher pool for an open position and are allowed to disregard seniority in making their selection.

Although magnet programs are often established to meet federal requirements for desegregating public schools, there is usually local involvement in the actual design of magnet programs. Parents, teachers and others are able to assess the needs of their communities and design specific magnet programs to serve these needs. Operating costs for magnets are funded by federal grants, state grants, local school board contributions, corporate contributions and, in some cases, tuition paid by parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a magnet school?

Magnet schools are public schools that provide specialized curriculums and instructional approaches to attract students from a variety of neighborhoods in a metropolitan area. Often, enrollment for magnet schools is regulated to ensure schools remain racially balanced; enrollment is controlled in a variety of ways, including admissions criteria, first-come, first-served applications, lotteries and/or percentage set-asides for neighborhood residents.

Have magnet schools facilitated the desegregation of public schools?

Much of the research on magnet schools suggests they have facilitated the desegregation of public schools. For example, an evaluation of magnet schools in three school districts compared the characteristics of students in magnets with those attending neighborhood schools in their respective school districts and found that magnet schools have encouraged racial desegregation. In one, the St. Louis School District, the proportion of African-American students in magnet schools was 58%, compared with the average in traditional schools of 78%.

Who attends magnet schools?

While magnet schools are more racially balanced than their traditional counterparts, students who attend magnet schools are less likely to be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch programs and are more likely to live in two-parent households, with parents who are employed and have earned college or graduate degrees, as compared with students who don’t attend magnet schools. These findings apply to the white, African-American and Latino students who attend magnet schools.

What are the achievement levels of students who attend magnet schools as compared to students at nonmagnet schools?

For the most part, research shows that the achievement levels of students who attend magnet schools are greater than the achievement of students who attend traditional schools. For example, a nationwide study found that students in magnet schools significantly outperformed their peers attending nonmagnets in social studies, science and reading. Also, a study of the magnet school program in the St. Louis School District found that students at magnet schools achieve higher scores on state assessments in math, reading, science and social studies than a comparable sample of students in neighborhood schools.

 

 

 

 

School Choice

Charter Schools
Magnet Schools
School Vouchers

 

 


Magnet Schools of America

Magnet Schools Assistance

Edunet:   
US Magnet Schools

Magnet Schools of America:  
Magnet School Districts Nationwide

 

NPIN - ERIC Digest: Charters, Magnets, and Choice


Eric Digest:

IMPROVING URBAN EDUCATION WITH
MAGNET SCHOOLS


National Center for Research in Vocational Education: University of California Berkley:

The Educational Benefits of Magnet Schools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell a friend
about
psparents.net

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Copyright © 2001-2004 by The Public School Parents Network  All Rights Reserved. Web Design: Wilmington Web Marketing
HomeReference Guide / About Us / FAQs / Contact Us