School Choice tours to be held at campuses on Thursdays this fall.
The Houston Independent School District is aiming to simplify its magnet school application process by moving to a priority-based system that was unveiled Thursday to school trustees.
Under the new system, parents would be required to rank the schools to which they are applying. If students qualify for multiple schools, they would only be accepted to the one that was ranked highest on their application. Students, however, could remain on waitlists for any higher-ranked schools without immediate available space — as long as they were eligible and qualified to attend.
The changes are designed to prevent students from receiving multiple acceptances, which slows down the overall process and ties up potentially available seats, preventing some students from knowing where they will attend school until well into the summer.
“These changes will go a long way in simplifying and speeding up our magnet application system, and providing our families the opportunity to know much sooner where their students will be attending school,” said Terry Grier, HISD Superintendent.
Currently, students are allowed to apply for up to 10 schools. A student could potentially be accepted to all 10, if he or she was eligible. Because the process doesn’t require families to immediately select the school they wish to attend, it can leave up to nine available seats in limbo — sometimes for months.
Under the new system, students still will be able to apply for 10 schools. However, they will have to rank the schools on their application. If students are accepted into their first-choice school, they will not be waitlisted or accepted at any other school on the list. A student also could be waitlisted at their first-choice school and accepted at their second-choice school.
To help parents and students learn more about the schools to which they are applying and better prioritize them prior to the magnet application deadline, all HISD campuses are invited to host weekly School Choice tours this fall. Held every Thursday with the exception of Thanksgiving, the tours will begin Oct. 8 and run through Dec. 10. Elementary and K-8 tours will be held at 9 a.m., while secondary tours will be held at 1 p.m. Four School Choice open houses also will be held throughout the fall.
For more information or the latest updates, go online to www.houstonisd.org/schoolchoice.
HISD’s stated reason for the proposed change is utter nonsense. While students can currently get accepted to more than one magnet, they can only accept one spot–and they must do that within the two-week deadline after magnet notifications are sent. So there is no months-long problem due to students getting more than one acceptance. It is true that students can stay on waiting lists for places they didn’t get accepted to, and that the waiting lists continue to move for months–but this change would not have an impact on waiting lists.
To allow students to be accepted to more than one magnet initially, as has been done in the past, is fair and reasonable. It’s similar to applying to colleges–you apply months in advance, don’t know for sure who will accept you, and your interests/priorities may change in the intervening months before you get a decision. Not everyone has a clear first choice, and a lot can happen, personally and academically, between the fall and the spring.
Allowing students to have more than one spot to choose from, as has been done up to now, prioritizes the needs and interests of students and their families, and it does not cause any long-term problem–as students have two weeks to accept one spot, and then they lose the others. This proposed change looks like just another way HISD is trying to weaken the magnet program overall.
I like the proposal for magnet school, BUT I would like to see more magnet schools in the east side of Houston. I reside near JW Oates, Judson Robinson, and RP Harris. The image and quality of these schools would change if magnet programs are implemented. Our children zoned to these schools have to get bused 30 miles away every day and it’s becoming a burden for us the parents because our children are on the bus for more than 1 hour and even then, the children get home after 6PM in some occasions. Why not bring the magnet programs to these schools?