What Is a Magnet School?


Quick Answer

A magnet school is a public elementary or secondary school that has a focused theme and aligned curriculum in science, mathematics, fine arts or other subjects. School districts and groups of school districts operate magnet schools.

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Full Answer

Magnet schools have their origins in the 1960s, as education pioneers sought to combat racial segregation and the perceived rigidity of public school systems. Based on the premise that not all students learn the same way, educators envisioned a different type of school that would draw a diverse body of students who shared interest in a common subject. The idea was that, in these types of schools, learning would be enhanced because all of the teachers and students would want to be there.

Magnet schools do not typically have entrance criteria beyond a student's interest in the theme subject of the school. Many schools use a random computer-based lottery system to determine admissions. As public schools, they do not charge tuition, and they often provide free transportation.

While magnet schools focus on particular subjects, they use state, district or Common Core standards in all subject areas. They serve all students, including students learning English and special-needs students. Magnet school teachers are licensed in the areas in which they teach and are highly specialized through additional training and development.

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