Subject: Topic 2: Proposed New Magnet Policy verse Current Magnet Policy
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 15:18:12 -0500
From: HISD Parent Visionaries <email@example.com>
To: HISD Parent Visionaries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Below you will find the new proposed magnet policy that will be discussed at the HISD Agenda Review Meeting on Monday at 3:00 pm at Hattie Mae White/HISD Admin building. The meeting is open to the public. We will wait until that time where we can learn more about what this particular policy recommendation. Magnet schools will be well served if a representative attends this meeting to learn more directly so you can educate your communities appropriately. Feel free to forward to other interested magnet parents or communities. Files are attached.
Proposed New Magnet Policy
We will provide innovative and engaging programs to attract, retain and empower students in a rich academic environment. Directly aligned with the Board’s Beliefs and Visions, HISD’s magnet schools embody the mandates for change on school choice, decentralization, school empowerment, and meaningful engagement.
MAGNET PROGRAMS AND SCHOOLS
The District’s magnet program was created in response to a court order to desegregate in 1975. In 1980, HISD was declared a unitary school district by the state of Texas in large part because of HISD’s extensive magnet program. In 2004, HISD magnets were recognized by the US Department of Education as going “Beyond Desegregation.” While student diversity remains a core belief and is desirable and sought, the District must also offer “quality programs that will engage students in the learning process leading to higher achievement.”
The magnet program in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) offers students a portfolio of K-12 engaging, academically rigorous and theme-based choices. The program seeks to recruit and draw a socio-economically and ethnically diverse student body from throughout the district with the ultimate goal of the HISD student population reflecting the diversity of the greater Houston metropolitan community. A magnet school provides unique instruction through its learning environment and culture, specialized principal, teacher and support staff training, appropriate resources and materials, and current technology. Strong community and business partnerships support various magnet themes and philosophies. HISD’s magnet program should provide a structure for students to take charge of their educational experience; it should promote diversity and foster learning across disciplinary boundaries, and it should generate collaboration between HISD and the greater Houston community. In addition, Magnet Programs exist as a supplement to high quality neighborhood schools, with the ultimate goal of every HISD school being a school of choice.
*Glossary of Terms provided at the end of the policy.
Each magnet program will maintain the following characteristics to be evaluated on an ongoing basis
1. Academic achievement and intellectual entrepreneurship as its core goals, enhanced by thematic programming, teaching philosophies, and real world experiences;
2. An enriched curriculum designed around a specialized theme or philosophy that meets students’ interests, talents, and needs with relevance in today’s society and economy;
3. A socio-economically and ethnically diverse student body so that students gain the experience needed to live in a multicultural society;
4. Strives to increase student access to the program through the District’s awareness activities, communication, transfer procedures, and transportation policies; and
5. Actively involves parent, community, and business partnerships.
STUDENT APPLICATION, SELECTION AND ADMISSION PROCESS
Qualifications for entering a magnet program are specific to each program. Generally, entrance to elementary programs is based on interest and available space. Secondary programs require more specific qualifications for entrance. Each magnet school shall create a detailed description regarding the entrance criteria and process which shall be made readily available and easily accessible to the public. The entrance criteria and process should be balanced with the key elements of objectivity, impartiality, fairness and equity. HISD may not, under this EGA (Local) policy, impose any generalized standard for admission into magnet programs upon individual schools or programs. If revisions are necessary, they must be adopted and approved before the application period for the following year. A student may transfer into a magnet program at any time during the school year if the student is qualified and if there is available space. Once enrolled in a magnet program a student can only transfer at the end of a school year. Reference: (EGA Regulation)
· Elementary school – Application only.
· Secondary school – May require board approved criteria (created at the campus level) or auditions for fine arts programs.
Admission to the magnet programs shall be based on the following process. All students must complete the formal application process and meet the criteria listed below to qualify for admission:
· Utilize a standard application allowing for multiple school choices by the applicant;
· Meet the established selection criteria by theme, when applicable;
· The District will oversee a board approved, school-based selection (when there are more qualified applicants than space available a school based lottery will be used to select students) and centralized acceptance system . Secondary Fine Arts Magnets will be exempt from school based lottery systems.
An applicant who meets the entrance criteria and has a sibling who attends the same program and who will continue to attend that program the following year shall be automatically placed on a space-availability basis prior to placement of other qualified applicants. Siblings are defined as brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister living in the same household. Neither siblings nor multiples applying together for the first time shall receive sibling preferential treatment.
Magnet program transfers will receive higher priority than other transfer types except in schools with “school-within-a-school magnet programs” for non-magnet transfers or when required by law.
Equal access to instructional excellence requires adequate and equitable allocation of resources. Board approved, fair funding per-student formulas shall be created that take into account program costs, unique themes and innovation. The magnet per-student formulas must support the diverse magnet programs within HISD and allow for their continued success. Board approved unique per unit allocations shall also be distributed to various magnet programs or themes based on a program or theme’s unique needs. These allocations shall be reviewed and revised by the Board in consultation with the Superintendent on an as needed basis, and any changes to the unique per unit allocations are subject to Board approval.
ESTABLISHING A MAGNET PROGRAM
Schools must be empowered to develop and implement the methods that best achieve their unique and individual instructional goals. Those interested in extending access and establishing a magnet program may submit a written proposal to the Office of School Choice, Chief Academic Officer and Board. The individual school will then be held accountable for innovation and instructional results. If a new program is to be created with funds from a Federal Magnet Assistance Grant, the board-approved proposal must include a financial sustainability plan to ensure funding beyond the lifespan of the magnet grant
To promote autonomy and ownership, new magnet themes or programs will be generated by the community and will not be assigned or limited by preexisting programs or themes. In the case of an identified regional need, a community task force will be created to generate and vet ideas and create a transition plan for new programming.
MODIFYING AN EXISTING MAGNET PROGRAM
MEASURES OF SUCCESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
A viable, robust Magnet program should have a clear focus that is not dependent on any single program, initiative, grant, teacher or facility. This focus should be sustainable across many years and recognizable as a brand for the campus. For these reasons, much planning and communication should go into proposing major changes to an existing Magnet program. Major modifications, those that substantially change a program, require board approval and at least one transition year, during which stakeholders can be informed and information about the new program can be disseminated. The transition year is necessary in order to prevent surprises for parents and students who have signed up for a program based on current offerings.
Additionally, it is necessary for programs to constantly update and improve offerings to remain relevant. Continued improvement should be an ongoing mindset and will naturally require frequent minor changes to programs. Community meetings must be offered to gather input and suggestions from the magnet school’s community at the beginning and end of each school year. The community’s input and suggestions shall be reviewed and retained by the school and made available for the Superintendent and community’s review. Additionally, schools are encouraged to continually evaluate their programs and to modify their Magnet offerings when they discover new opportunities to better serve students. Minor modifications may be implemented as needed if the proposal is approved by a two-thirds vote of the school’s complete Shared Decision Making Committee (SDMC).
HISD will replicate successful programs throughout the district to ensure high quality options are available for children throughout the community. Successful magnet programs will be maintained and supported by HISD. These programs must be supported to continue the “magnetic” draw for future matriculation of new students.
In addition, magnet programs will adhere to district wide accountability standards in support of college and career readiness. The ultimate goal would be for magnet students to exceed state requirements.
The District will track and monitor school performance and hold leadership accountable for results. The following standards which may be further defined in a board-approved regulation, must also be maintained for a magnet program to retain its status. If the school fails to maintain these standards, a task force comprised of the principal, SIO, Office of School Choice, SDMC and larger community will be named and shall create a plan to address concerns. The school also must hold at least two community meetings to gather input and suggestions regarding the school’s issues and goals. The minutes from the meetings shall be retained by the principal for the Superintendent and community’s review. HISD’s central communications department is responsible for communicating and promoting any campus-based magnet improvement meeting to ensure community participation. HISD will work with the campus to produce communication, marketing plans, and work product. If after a three-year probationary period the program does not see improvement, the administration will prepare a recommendation for the board to consider termination.
1. The school or program must maintain an academically rigorous program that meets the college readiness criteria determined by the Board. For school within a school programs, academic achievement standards must be uniform throughout the school population, including those children who are not participating in the magnet programming.
2. The school or program must show evidence of desirability through high number of applications. Applications to new programs should show an upward trend in numbers with the ultimate goal of programs receiving more applications than spots available. Intervention will be required if the application rate decreases and/or falls below the spaces available. The target for non-zoned magnet population should comprise 20% non-zoned students and maintain a student population that falls above the guidelines to be considered for school closure, unless the school is “small by design.”
3. Magnet funds must be spent with fidelity towards Magnet Program staffing, materials, services and needs.
Glossary of Terms:
Magnet Programs-Defined in this policy. They are unique to Neighborhood Schools with ‘Themes’ in that they receive Magnet Funding and transportation.
Vanguard Programs/G/T-Vanguard programs serve G/T identified students. All neighborhood schools offer G/T Vanguard services, but Vanguard Programs are similar to Magnets in that qualified students can apply and once accepted receive transportation. Vanguard schools are addressed in a separate policy (FDB Local and EHBB Local)
Neighborhood School-A school that serves its zoned population of students. A neighborhood school may offer specialized or theme based programming and can accept transfers if space is available, but does not receive transportation or extra funding from the district for theme-based programming.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs, Washington, D.C., 2004.
Current Magnet Policy:
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT EGA
INNOVATIVE AND MAGNET PROGRAMS (LOCAL)
DATE ISSUED: 5/1/2000 1 of 1
The District’s Magnet Program is a system of educational choices developed to serve students with specialized interests, talents, and needs.
The following characteristics serve as the underlying framework of the Magnet Program:
1. Each magnet program offers an enriched curriculum designedaround a specialized theme that meets students’ interests, talents, and needs and has relevance in today’s society;
2. Each magnet program strives to provide an ethnically diversestudent body so that students gain the experience needed tolive in a multicultural society;
3. Each magnet program accepts, within its enrollment goal,students who have a strong interest in its magnet theme andwho have met the selection criteria appropriate to the program;
4. Each magnet program strives to increase student access to the program through the District’s awareness activities, transfer procedures, and transportation policies; and
5. Each magnet program actively encourages parent, community, and business involvement.