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Want your child to attend a magnet school? Here's what you need to know

Posted February 18, 2020 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2020 9:03 a.m. EST

"Magnet schools give students an opportunity to explore a new interest or to cultivate an existing interest," said Tamani Anderson Powell, the director of marketing and communications for the Office of Magnet and Curriculum Enhancement with the Wake County Public School System. (Photo Courtesy of Wake County Public School System)

This article was written for our sponsor, Wake County Public School System.

If you are the parent of a pre-kindergarten-age child and are attracted to the different learning themes and the student body diversity of magnet schools, here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about when, where and how to apply.

When to Apply

The most magnet school seats – typically ranging from 30-60 seats — are available at the kindergarten grade level. Since the majority of magnet school students follow their magnet school learning pathway for grades K-12, limited seating exists at other grade levels.

If you're considering a magnet education for your child, it's best to start your child's magnet school education from the beginning in order to secure a seat.

Where to Apply

Tamani Anderson Powell, the director of marketing and communications for the Office of Magnet and Curriculum Enhancement with the Wake County Public School System, said the first step of the magnet school application process is for parents to explore their student's educational options, both online and in-person.

"After exploring the different elementary magnet school themes online, I encourage parents to attend a magnet school recruitment event and then tour each of the magnet schools they think may be a good fit for their child," Anderson Powell said. "It's really important to tour the schools in order to truly get a feel for the culture, the theme and the learning style of each school."

Also, when selecting a magnet school for your child, Anderson Powell recommends keeping in mind that no academic criteria, testing or special aptitude is required on behalf of the child.

"When making the final decision regarding school choice, I encourage parents to look at their child's interests and to select a magnet school that will match – and grow – those interests," she said.

So, should you — or shouldn't you — apply to multiple magnet schools on behalf of your child?

Anderson Powell shared that students may apply to up to five different magnet schools at a time.

"The online system allows parents to rank-order their magnet school choices," Anderson Powell said. "Also, applying to more than one magnet school does increase your child's odds of being accepted at one of your magnet school choices. Just make sure that your child is truly interested in the theme of each magnet school and that the school is one that you really want your child to attend before you apply."

How to Apply

1. In Wake County, before completing the online magnet school application, parents of pre-kindergarten-age children must first visit the WCPSS website and enroll their child in their base school. By doing so, the child will be issued a student ID number, which the parent will then enter when completing the online magnet school application.

2. Visit the WCPSS website to complete the brief online magnet school application during the application window. However, applying early does not increase a child's chances of being selected to attend a magnet school; selection decisions are not made on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Selection Process

The WCPSS magnet school student selection process is guided by the four primary objectives that it has defined for its magnet school program:

  • To reduce high concentrations of poverty in schools
  • To promote diverse school populations
  • To maximize use of school facilities
  • To provide innovative educational opportunities

Since the majority of WCPSS magnet schools are located in downtown Raleigh, which reports a lower socioeconomic profile than other parts of Wake County, the selection priority is given to applicants who live in higher socioeconomic neighborhoods throughout the county.

"Magnet school priority is given to students who will help to diversify the school's student population from a socioeconomic perspective," Anderson Powell explained. "The selection criteria doesn't look at race. Instead, it focuses solely on the socioeconomic data that is associated with the student applicant's address and base school. Only neighborhood-level data is analyzed; never data that focuses on an individual family's race, income, etc."

To remove the elements of bias and partiality from the equation, Anderson Powell added that student selections are made solely by a computer program – never by humans.

In Wake County, parents will be notified of magnet school assignments for the 2020-2021 school year (which begins in August) on Feb. 19, 2020. Students who do not receive a seat in their first-choice magnet school may be assigned to one of their alternate magnet school choices, as well as remain in the applicant pool for their first-choice school – in case seats open up later in the spring.

This article was written for our sponsor, Wake County Public School System.

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