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Ask HISD: Applying to Magnet School Programs

You have the right to choose what kind of toothpaste to buy, what news program to watch, and what color pants to wear. Did you know that in HISD you also have the right to choose the school and academic program that your child attends? Over a hundred schools across the district offer specialized magnet programs for your child – from engineering to musical arts to medical sciences. Just a little bit of homework can help you find the perfect fit for your child and to enhance their academic experience. Read the following FAQ to help you get started.

Q: How do I figure out what program is best for my child?

A: Before submitting an application, we recommend that you research the program focus, eligibility requirements, and curriculum. One of the best ways to do this is to visit the schools. While all of our Magnet programs are quality programs, a thorough exploration will enable you to determine the best match for you, your child, and your family. You can also call the Office of School Choice at 713-556-6947. School Choice can help you determine what type of program and school is best for you and your child. Below are the different school options available in HISD.

  • Magnet:  Magnet schools offer a range of thematic educational choices for prekindergarten through grade 12. Each program’s enriched curriculum centers on a specialized theme that meets students’ diverse needs, while teachers receive training to deliver specialized content using best practices.
  • Vanguard Magnet school: Vanguard is a Magnet program that serves students who have been identified as potentially gifted or talented in intellectual ability, creativity, or leadership. A Magnet Vanguard offers a differentiated curriculum that is both accelerated and enriched. Admission to the Magnet Vanguard program requires testing and the use of the Vanguard application.
  • Vanguard Neighborhood school: Vanguard Neighborhood programs are designed to meet the needs of G/T students in grades K-12 at their neighborhood (zoned) schools. Both Vanguard Magnet and Vanguard Neighborhood programs provide a differentiated curriculum by modifying the depth, complexity, and pacing of the general school program.
  • Charter school: HISD operates five types of charter schools: whole-campus, program (school-within-a-school), cooperative, internal, community-based, and external-campus. Each charter school has an innovative focus that addresses a particular education concept and/or student population. All charter schools are accountable under the Texas Education Agency accountability system.
  • Neighborhood school: HISD’s neighborhood schools not only provide quality instruction and co-curricular activities, but their rich school history of traditions and community involvement enhance the very fabric of the diverse and unique Houston area. Students are zoned to their neighborhood campus based on their place of residence.

Q: Where can I get a magnet application and what do I do with it?

A:   You can obtain an application form at www.houstonisd.org/magnet or by visiting any HISD school. You may be required to submit school records or schedule an interview, exam, or audition. Submit the completed Magnet application form to the Magnet program school of your choice by mail or drop it off in person. All Magnet applications must be submitted by January 11, 2013, for the first round of screening. Late applications will only be accepted on a space available basis. There is no limit to the number of programs to which you may apply unless you are applying to a Vanguard Magnet program.  Vanguard Magnet programs use a different application available at www.houstonisd.org/magnet that is only submitted to the first choice Vanguard Magnet school. Schools will notify parents by mail if their child has or has not been accepted into the Magnet program on March 22, 2013.

Q: What do I need to do if my student gets accepted to the program?

A: Parents must notify the Magnet program (one program only) that they accept the invitation for their child to attend by returning the acceptance documents by April 5, 2013. Parents who do not notify the Magnet program of their decision by April 5, 2013 will lose their reserved spot (space will be given to the next student on the wait list). Parents must complete the registration materials provided by the school and follow the enrollment procedures as indicated by the school.

Q: What if my student does not get accepted to the program?

A: You may meet with the school’s Magnet coordinator or administrator to discuss the decision. If you have any further concerns, an appeal may be filed at the Magnet Department. The School Choice Office encourages you to apply to all the schools that you are interested in so that you have a back-up school program available for your child.