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Magnet changes coming

The HISD Board of Trustees is getting ready to offer specific proposals to reform the magnet school program.

Trustees and Houston Independent School District Superintendent Terry Grier suggested magnet programs that draw few students from outside their neighborhoods were at risk. Programs with poor academic track records also could be eliminated.

A dozen of HISD’s 114 magnet programs have 25 or fewer students from outside the schools’ attendance zones. The campuses drawing the least students, according to district data, are Ryan, Long, Williams and Attucks middle schools and Worthing High School.

“How can you continue to be a magnet school if you don’t attract students to your school?” Grier asked. “You can’t.”

[…]

The proposal calls for all schools with the same theme – such as math and science – to have the same entrance standards. Principals now have the power to set their own criteria.

The admissions issue creates tension as some prefer tougher entrance standards while others want more students to have access to top programs.

Grier said he supports entrance criteria for specialty programs, such as DeBakey High School for Health Professions and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

But he said he found it “problematic” that Barbara Jordan High School, a magnet for various careers, recently raised its standards, excluding students it has traditionally served.

As always, the devil will be in the details. I agree with the premise that a program that isn’t drawing students should not get “magnet” designation – what’s the point if no one wants what they have? I’m not sure how I feel about the entrance standards issue. I feel like there should be some room for individual principals to make their own choices, but I don’t know how to codify that. I will have to see what the Board proposes and see what I think about it. The good news is that they’re leaving the Vanguard programs alone, according to an earlier version of the story. That is what caused by far the most angst when that magnet school audit came out earlier this year. What are your thoughts on this?

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