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Magnet Schools and Academies

Judson ISD parents were invited to a student-led data night.

Judson ISD parents were invited to a student-led data night.

What is a Magnet School?

Some public schools offer specialized programs that focus on a particular area of study. These programs are sometimes called academies or magnet schools. They are sometimes school-wide programs, or they can be a smaller part of a particular public school. Magnet schools and academies are public schools with specialized courses or curricula.  They serve families that seek to immerse their children in specialized programs. These programs can vary immensely from digital arts, computer coding, culinary, carpentry, and other trades. 

A magnet school, including academic magnets and academic magnet high schools, are the largest form of school choice in traditional public schools. As indicated by its name, a magnet draws students from within and outside of a district’s boundaries. Magnets offer a focus within an academic curriculum. Examples include:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • International Baccalaureate, International Studies
  • World Languages (immersion and non-immersion)
  • Fine and Performing Arts


Magnet schools and academies are open to all children, from all socio-economic backgrounds and interests. They are free, but many hold a lottery system for student enrollment due to the demand. Magnet schools exist within a school district and adhere to state regulations.

Magnet Program Pillars

According to Magnet Schools of America, magnet schools are “founded on the five pillars of diversity, innovative curriculum and professional development, academic excellence, high-quality instructional systems and family and community partnerships.  The synergistic relationship of these five equally held tenets is not merely a foundation, but a compass moving our students/children forward to a well-prepared future.” 

Why Magnet Schools or Academies?

Magnet schools provide students themed curricula, hands-on learning, diversity, culture, and engagement in the community. Students learn team-building and improve life skills. Through interaction with businesses, corporations, non-profits, and universities, students are exposed to the world-at-large.

Dr. Donald Wildrip shares in his article, A Brief History of Magnet Schools, that, “all students do not learn in the same ways; that if we take advantage of a student’s interest and aptitude, that student will do better in subjects unrelated to his/her reasons for choosing the school; that choice itself will result in improved satisfaction that translates into better achievement; that every child can learn and it is our job to offer enough options so that parents of all children (or students themselves) will have the opportunity to choose the programs best suited to them.


Friendswood ISD hosted visitors from Little Mustangs Preschool Academy and third graders at the weekly Friday morning Mustang Senior meeting.

Friendswood ISD hosted visitors from Little Mustangs Preschool Academy at the Mustang Senior meeting.

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools can have magnet schools within their system, but there are differences between magnet charters and traditional public school magnets. While both magnet programs are free and a part of their school district or system, charter schools can be for-profit and are not required to adhere to state requirements. In traditional public schools, the district’s administration provides oversight. In charter schools, other private entities might be involved in oversight.

What is School Choice?

School choice allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs, and this includes public schools offer new and different educational options. 

School choice includes much more than school vouchers or charter schools. There are a variety of ways for families to choose the best educational setting for their kids. Learn more about the different educational choice options in your school district today! 

Check out our magnet school and academy programs:

Program Spotlight: Magnet Schools and Academies

Check out this quick video of what students learn in Magnet Schools and Academies. Magnets offer a focus within an academic curriculum such as: STEM, Fine and Performing Arts, and Career and Technical Education (CTE). These schools provide students with hands-on learning, diversity, and engagement in the community. They are open to all children, from all socio-economic backgrounds and interests.

Magnet and Academy News

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