Slide background

Key Facts About Magnet Schools

  • Based on a report commissioned by Magnet Schools of America and conducted by the University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Urban Institute in 2016, there are approximately 4,340 public elementary and secondary magnet schools serving nearly 3.5 million students in the United States.


  • Magnet schools are the largest form of public school choice. They were originally created in the early 1970’s as a means of voluntarily promoting school integration and improving the quality of America’s educational system through innovative curricula and classroom instruction.


  • The first magnet schools were modeled after the Bronx School of Science, the Boston Latin School, Chicago’s Lane Tech, and San Francisco’s Lowell High School. These schools offered specialized or advanced curricula to select students.


  • Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas is considered the first magnet school in the United States. It opened its doors on March 1, 1971.


  • In describing the effect of a Houston Performing and Visual Arts School, an educator said it worked like a “magnet” in attracting students.


  • Magnet schools utilize a variety of academic themes to attract students of different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds including: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), language immersion, business and communications, careers and technology, and visual and performing arts. Others use specialized instructional techniques like those found in Montessori schools or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.


  • While many people believe magnet schools are selective and only accept students based on academic prowess, in reality three out of four magnet schools do not have entrance criteria, but rather use computer-based lottery systems for admissions.


  • Since students’ only eligibility requirement is an interest in the theme, students from a wide array of backgrounds attend magnet schools resulting in higher level cognitive and social learning.


  • Magnet schools serve all students including English language learners as well as students receiving special education services. Transportation to magnet schools is typically provided at no cost to families.


  • Magnet schools are more “hands on – minds on” and often use an approach to learning that is inquiry or performance/project-based. They use the state, district, or Common Core standards in all subject areas, however, they are taught within the overall theme of the school.


  • Unlike charter schools, magnet schools do not operate autonomously under any sort of “charter,” but are administered by the school district. They are subject to the same measures of accountability and standards as traditional public schools, as well as the collective bargaining agreements made with teachers unions.



Learn how to become a Nationally Certified Magnet School

Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.

Translate »