Magnet schools are public schools that offer programs designed around specialized themes, distinctive curriculums, or academic focuses that attract students to each school. Magnet schools are available at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. As part of the public school system, they are free to attend. An entire campus may be designated as a magnet school or there may be a magnet program “school within a school” involving selected students.
Originally conceived to promote voluntary desegregation in schools in the 1960s, magnet schools are open to students outside of the normal attendance zone, not only to encourage diversity and school choice but also to allow students to focus on areas of interest. A magnet program provides students with valuable educational experiences through innovative practices and compelling modes of instruction. These schools also promote student diversity through choice and enhance equitable access to high-quality education.
Families are increasingly aware that secondary and even primary school choices affect a student’s later success. Choosing an appropriate magnet program allows a student’s educational plan to be tailored to his or her needs, talents, career goals, learning style, and interests. Magnet schools and programs provide students with innovative, theme-based learning opportunities that match their special interests and abilities.
Magnet school themes are varied. Some schools focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills, while others focus on the arts.
Advanced curriculums such as International Baccalaureate programs and unique models of instruction such as Montessori are often themes for magnet schools. Languages, leadership, health careers, and aviation are also popular. Magnet school themes allow students to concentrate on a specialized interest or career.
Instruction at magnet schools meets all local and state standards in reading, math, and science, in addition to specialized courses that constitute the magnet curriculum. Teachers are highly qualified and take part in specific theme-based professional development. Students who attend magnet schools are well prepared for academic achievement.
Students wishing to enroll in a magnet school must complete an application. Sometimes students are chosen through random selection or lottery. Depending on the district and school, there may be specific eligibility requirements.
Transportation policies vary among school districts. Contact your district office to learn more about eligibility, the application process, and important timelines.