New Strategies for Magnet Schools

Changes continue for the WCPSS magnet program.  Recently three schools were added to the slate and several others were identified for a refresh of their magnet themes.

Now, changes are being made to the way magnet schools select students to attend.  These are known as selection priorities, and until now, all magnet schools have used the same ones.\"MagnetPrinciplesimage\"

The notable difference is found in the selection priorities for five magnet schools with below district average percentages of poor and low-performing students.  Those five are described as able to, “benefit from some different magnet selection priorities to help them meet the magnet objectives.”  All five are elementary schools: Brooks, Joyner, Martin, Underwood, and Wiley.Staff shared a set of differentiated selection priorities based on grouping all magnet schools (and early colleges) into five groups.  The groups are based on the degree to which magnet schools are meeting magnet principles.

Staff recommends the selection priorities for these schools, known as Group 2A Magnets, fill 30 percent of seats from “medium and low-performing areas.”  Typically magnet schools draw from high-performing and overcrowded areas of the county.  And those more typical selection priorities will hold for Groups 1, 2, 3, and 5.  (Group 4 contains early colleges with different application and selection priorities.)

Also of interest is the conversation Cathy Moore, Deputy Superintendent for Academic Advancement, had with board members about transportation.  She noted that transportation could provide “strategic and intentional” support to the magnet program by offering higher levels of transportation service for those students being sought for Group 2A Magnets.  Any changes discussed would not be in place until the 2017-2018 school year.

It should be noted that all magnet schools do not offer the same level of transportation service.  Most have a mix of neighborhood routes, express busing, and parent-provided transportation.

Here is the bottom line: staff and school board members are going to be more strategic and intentional in the operation of the magnet program.  Board chair Christine Kushner was pleased with “greater intention in our magnet programs going forward.”

Magnet schools operate under and within a set of principles; it is clear that staff and school board members alike are committed to them.

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