Are there multiple awards for the same category?
There are two primary categories: School of Excellence and School of Distinction. Each primary has three subcategories: New & Emerging, Program Within-A-School, and Whole School Magnet.
Can schools apply for both the merit award for excellence and the award for distinction? Added 11.1.2017
There is one merit application and based on your score from the rubric is whether it is an award for excellence, award for distinction, or no award if threshold is below these levels.
What is the deadline date for the Merit Awards Application? Updated 11.1.2017
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 11:59 p.m. EST.
DEADLINE EXTENDED: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 11:59 p.m. EST.
For clarification, the cover page and full application is not due until November 28th, correct? Updated 11.1.2017
That is correct, the signed cover page and full application is due
November 28 December 5. You must be an MSA in good standing (paid by November 3 10). The Powerpoint slide and video must be submitted via GoogleDrive to email@example.com by December 29, 2017.
In terms of the length requirement, for a character, that means an individual letter, including spaces, correct? Added 10.26.2017
Yes, characters do include spaces.
Where are the data forms located? Added 10.26.2017
They are located in two places; www.magnet.edu under the Merit Awards tab in the sub tab that says Documents. The other place is on the online platform as you are completing the application, there are links to the templates for you to download.
The MSA Award application asks us to select Elementary or Secondary school we can’t select both. Additionally, the application asks us to define our eligibility requirement and we have to choose one either yes or no. Entry into our PK is based on interest only however, our high school has a lenient criteria as per School Board Policy. Do you have any guidance as to how we should respond? Added 11.1.2017
Schools in this situation last year either applied as an elementary or as a high school and answered the questions accordingly. They can define themselves and describe in the narrative their grade span.
So, if they are applying as an elementary then they use the guidelines for lottery set for elementary. If they are applying primarily as a high school then they would use those guidelines.
Please clarify the eligibility for merit award. Is a school eligible after three years of implementation or four years? The application guidelines say four years, but you I think you just said three years? Added 11.1.2017
A school may apply after 3 years of implementation as a new & emerging school.
Signature Page/Cover Page
I would like to ask if the Nominee Assurance & Signature portion of the application is signed by our principal or magnet coordinator?
It must be signed by the principal (see next FAQ).
Is the Superintendent/Designee Signature portion signed by our school superintendent. In my school district, it is difficult to meet with the superintendent of schools.
The Superintendent/Designee signature may be signed by your District Magnet Director or Associate Superintendent.
New & Emerging
I am a magnet coordinator at Commonwealth Gifted/Highly Gifted/High Ability Arts & Technology Magnet in LAUSD. This is our third year so we won't have 3 or 4 years of data. Can we still apply this year?
Yes, you can still apply. Make sure to check the New & Emerging Award Category.
Do we use the same application for New and Emerging Category? Do I just check the box to indicate New and Emerging? Since this is our 3rd year, we don't have any awards that we received. Do we receive 0 point for new and emerging category?
Yes, you will use the same application and check the box indicating ‘New and Emerging’. Awards are not limited to just the program/school as a whole. Make sure to include student, staff awards as well. (Tip: Refer to the rubric)
If a school is applying as a New & Emerging Magnet School, is there a minimum number of students they can have in their program? Does the 200 students/20% rule apply to them?
Yes, the rule for Program Within-a-School applies (20% or at least 200 students).
We are in our fourth year extension of the Magnet program. Should we submit our application under the "new and emerging" category? The guidelines say that schools in their second or third year would be included in this category, but schools should have at least four years in the program to qualify for the regular award categories. I'm a bit confused as to where we fit in. Any guidance in this area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
The school must be a magnet for a minimum of three full years to be eligible for the normal merit award category.
Can a school file an application if this is there 2nd year ? does it matter if the program only have 45 students? Added 10.31.2017
You can apply as a new and emerging school, but it does depend on if you are a program within a school and the 45 students is 20% or over population. If not, you cannot apply. If a whole school magnet, you can apply since all the 45 students are in the school.
We have 569 students in main school and 108 students in magnet. That means we only have 18.9%. Can we still apply?
Unfortunately, you are not eligible. Twenty percent of the student population must in the program or a minimum of 200 students.
We are a partial magnet school with currently 165 students out of 907 students who are magnet students. Would this be considered as a program within a school?
Your partial magnet school would apply as a program within-a-school if your student population for the magnet program is 20% of the total student population or a minimum of 200 students. Based on the numbers provided, you do not meet the requirement (18.2%).
ABC Senior High School - total population = 2612 students
- Science, Technology & Math = 660 students –> 25.3%
- Medical = 268 students –> 10.3%
- Performing Arts Magnet = 408 students –> 15.6%
Applying all magnets in one application… total students = 1336 –> 51.1%
Based on the information provided, you may submit a Program Within-a-School application for just the Science, Technology & Math program or one Program Within-a-School application for all of your magnets.
I am still confused about the percent for new and emerging schools. Am I correct, you must have 20% of the entire school enrolled in the new and emerging? We have two magnets. I am only applying for the new and emerging one. Do I count my other magnet as part of the entire school?
I am assuming based on the information provided above that you have two programs within-a-school, and one of the two is a new and emerging program. Yes, the student population for the one new and emerging magnet program must be 20% of the total student population or a minimum of 200 students. The other magnet should be accounted for in the whole school data.
Are the readers who judge the applications individuals who do not have a background in the field of education? We are unclear as to how you distinguish "jargon" from valid professional terminology whose use decreases the need for unnecessary explanation.
Our trained readers do come from an education background. We do ask that abbreviations be spelled out as some names may be used in one state and not in another.
Could you address reader training? Added 10.31.2017
We have found twenty readers who are dedicated to magnet schools and this process. They are experienced in magnet schools; we try to keep the same readers every year who are all trained well. Since this is an application process and we are not coming to your school and seeing all that goes on, we want make it as less subjective as we can. We ensure the readers fully understand the pillars and the rubric to be reading the applications. We have two readers read each application, and if we need to break through a disagreement with a third reader, we can. The readers are trained to look for specific things and to think through the process very intentionally.
Do you adjudicate scores if there is a big discrepancies between the two readers? Added 11.1.2017
Readers are encouraged to read an application together and calibrate. After calibration, readers will check-in with one another throughout the review process (agreeing to how they have scored the applications). As long as they are agreeing to the quality of each section, scores do not need to change. If there is an area the readers can not completely agree on then a third reader is brought in.
Can an applicant for an MSA award simultaneously also be a reader?
Yes, an applicant may apply to be a reader. If selected, the training will take place post deadline. In addition, the reader will not be assigned any applications from within his/her region or with any possible conflicts of interest.
If you have won in the past year, are you eligible to win again?
Previous monetary award winners are NOT eligible to receive cash awards for five years after the initial award, but are eligible for the Excellence and Distinction award categories. Exception: A New and Emerging School, having completed its fourth year, may be eligible for other awards in their category.
For previous winners, what would you suggest to be different in a new application?
Build on what you have accomplished…talk about your achievement trend, the progress that you are making, and programs that are unique and different.
I have to add the data to the table for a 3rd time because it isn’t possible to copy and paste more than one cell at a time.
The data tables are locked. You will need to enter data for each cell. The only items that you can copy and paste is the text for the narrative sections.
On the student achievement table, the overall percentages compute as averages of the demographic percentages listed which do not reflect the actual percent proficient at the school, district and state levels. This is because there is not the same amount of students proficient in each demographic. Can you remove the formula on the data sheet so that we can put the actual percent proficient on the table for the school, district and state overall? Revised 11.1.2017
We have uploaded new data tables with the formulas removed.
If there is missing data due to testing irregularities, does the school need to get "preapproval" from MSA? Schools were not given full points on the application last year, because they "did not get pre-approval from MSA for missing data". Revised 11.1.2017
Missing data does not need to be pre-approved by MSA. Please make sure to address the missing data or lack of in the narrative. If you have documentation from the district or state regarding lack of data or testing changes, please share those documents with firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if there is no diversity plan/goal?
Are you working towards improving the overall diversity? Explain how you are working towards it (school improvement plan, staff meetings, etc.). It does not have to be a formally sanctioned plan by the district, it can be a school plan.
So a lot of the diversity questions seem based on our district guidelines? Is it fair that our answers come directly from the district guidelines?
Readers are trained to recognize district guideline limitations and are encouraged to avoid penalizing the school. Applicants should make the distinction clear in the narrative so that the reader understands the difference.
So if our school's diversity does not reflect the districts diversity data, the highest score we can get is a 6? Added 10.26.2017
Yes; if you are not reflecting the diversity of the district but making progress towards that diversity, than you can get a 6.
Just wanted to make sure that the magnet application that the families fill out must have the diversity plan on it? Added 10.26.2017
No, the magnet application for students to apply for the lottery does not have to have the diversity plan for the lottery; just in the application to us.
There are many cross-outs on the data tables. Are we to ignore this information?
There are two demographic tables templates available, one for whole school and one for program within-a-school. The whole school data template will have text crossed out pertaining to program within-a-school requirements. We try to keep all listed guidelines on templates as consistent as possible.
I am in the process of completing the demographic profile for my school. In LAUSD, Filipino is identified, but on your form it is not. Which ethnic category should I group them with?
Please include Filipino under the Asian category and make sure to provide an explanation in the narrative.
Can you provide some guidance and share your thinking about what this language refers to "student diversity is leveraged and maximized"?
It basically means that whatever your diversity is you can set a plan to increase diversity to better reflect your district and celebrate your current cultures. For example, if your school is 80% Hispanic 20% Caucasian but your district is 50% Caucasian, 30% Hispanic and 20% Asian American, you would want strategies to work toward the more diverse percentages of your district. You also need to make sure you are celebrating the diversity and cultures you already have in your building even when you haven’t made progress toward your overall goal.
Innovative Instructional Strategies
Can professional development that is done by the district that aligns with the theme (ex: Visual and Performing Arts training for teachers) still be counted as the school offering the training? Added 10.31.2017
Yes; whatever you are giving your staff access to; if unusual and you are not sure the reader will follow, write a couple sentences to explain how it aligns to your theme.
If certain teachers attend a PD that is theme related, is it acceptable for them to then train other teachers? Added 10.31.2017
Yes; we appreciate the trained in trainer model because we know there are often budget issues.
Our leadership academies, which are also early colleges, and go 6-12, to be able to upload 2 data sheets and 2 demographic sheets to speak to their theme?
Yes, multiple file uploads are available in the online platform for the Student Achievement Data section to account for the different reporting based on grade levels.
Our magnet school was a 4th through 6th grade building but added PreK-3 students this year. Do I need to include K-3 students data? (those students were at a PreK-3 building last year)? Added 10.31.2017
K-3 student data should not be included. Start at the 4th grade level since you are not changing the school, just expanding the program. Just include data of 4th-6th.
The attendance block is new. It used to be graduation. The directions are still asking for graduation. With the new form, do we still try to include graduation in a block or just the attendance rates?
The attendance rate is new and not required, just optional. As for the graduation rates, you may include it in the narrative section (Section D).
What is Attendance Rate you are looking for on the Student Achievement Data Table? The percentage of students that attend? Also, how do we represent aggregated attendance rate (single number)? It appears that our state did not disaggregate attendance rates (historical years).
We are asking for the daily attendance rate as a possible indicator of success you could share. For instance, 95% attendance rate for the year (for previous year).
When completing the data table for student achievement, there is the column for school district % proficient. Do I enter the % proficient for all grades or just for students in the school district in the same grades as the ones served at my campus?
Please enter the data however it makes sense to you, but make sure to explain what you have done and the context in the narrative. Normally you would put the last year’s data and then explain that the other years were different tests and that is why the data is not listed. If a composite is not provided to the school from the state, an average is fine.
Could you please tell me how to report attendance on the Magnet School of America Awards template. It asks for the % Proficient for the Magnet Program, School District, and State. The data I have is % of students with 0 absences, the % of students with 1 to 5 absences, the percent of students with 6 to 10 absences, and the percent of students with more than 10 absences. I would think I would report the % of students with less than 10 absences. Please advise if this is acceptable.
The data table has been revised as of 10.24.16. We are asking for the overall average daily attendance for program/school, district and state.
Your Total (overall) % proficient is averaging the percent passing of the races without taking into consideration the N count of each race. Therefore, if I have 2 Caucasians that have a 50% pass rate and 400 Asians with a 95% pass rate those 2 Caucasians combined hold the same weight as the 400 Asians combined. The way your spreadsheet is giving the overall total it looks like the school/district/state would only have a 72.5% pass rate when in actuality it should have a 94.6% overall pass rate. Revised 11.1.2017
The data table has been updated to total the disaggregated columns rather than average them. There is also an aggregated data table template available.
An updated data table has been uploaded with no formulas in the Total columns.
Because of the way the formula calculates, our total proficiencies do not match what is on the template after inputting data. Also, we had one year that we did not have any students in a specific subgroup and putting a ".001” negatively impacts our total proficiency. Revised 11.1.2017
The data table has been updated. The note along the bottom regarding the “.001” has been removed.
An updated data table template has been uploaded with no formulas.
If the district or state has changed their achievement testing over the 4 years, is it OK to include data from two different types of assessments? Added 10.31.2017
Yes; put in the narrative and explain that you were making progress closing the gap before and then they changed the way they were taking achievement data. In the merit platform, you do have the ability to upload multiple data tables as well.
Does adding any additional test data (such as AP exams or end of course exams for Biology) carry any different weight to readers? Added 10.31.2017
No; we try to keep it general because every state is different. We ask for the explanation of whatever achievement data your state requires. Use whatever you are used to sending in for your state, just explain your student achievement data
If the state does not release 16-17 graduation dates until December, will this be counted against the applicant? Added 10.31.2017
Just put a note that it is not released and it will not be counted against you.
Parent and Community Involvement
The one community partnership that I can think of is one that we have with one of our local elementary schools. Our Video Game Technology teacher has a Club there with our high school students working with fifth graders. Can that be considered a community partnership?
You must decide which partnerships to consider for the letter. Determine what partnership strengthens your application
Are the letters sent in separately, correct? Not on-line?
The letters must be scanned and uploaded during the online submission process by the deadline.
I am in the process of typing up a letter of support for one of the magnet schools looking to be recognized. To whom should the letter be addressed?
Please address the letter of support to the MSA Merit Awards Committee | 1909 K Street, NW Suite C-140 | Washington, DC 20006
Awards and Achievements
If our teachers were selected to present sessions at state conferences, should that be included in Awards & Achievements?
Yes, that would be a significant achievement.
POWERPOINT & VIDEO
Do all schools submit a video and Powerpoint slide?
Yes, ALL schools must submit a video and Powerpoint slide. Winners will be announced at 2017 National Conference on Magnet Schools, where the video and/or Powerpoint will be used.
This is our second year. Can you clarify the video and the power point slide?
The goal is to “Scream Your Theme” for the video as well as the images/design on the slide. Make sure to include your school name in both, principal, grade levels and theme on the slide.
A single slide? or a single powerpoint presentation?
We are looking for a single slide that is static (no animation or audio).
Part of the application for the 2017-2018 Magnet Merit Award is a submission of a PowerPoint slide. I was wondering if the slide could have animations or sound? of is this a static slide?
We are asking for a static slide.
Can video be longer than 20 seconds?
We highly recommend that the video you submit be as close to 20 seconds and captures the message you are trying to get across. Please note, that we may edit your video.
If for any reason you don't receive the share invite or cannot see the 20 second video, will you contact the submitter? Added 10.31.2017
Yes, we do have a system in place that staff will be going over a checklist of items, so if something is missing, you will be contacted.