Magnet schools are built on the foundation of five pillars and are free public elementary and secondary schools of choice that are operated by school districts or a consortium of districts. Magnet schools have a focused theme and aligned curricula in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Fine and Performing Arts, International Baccalaureate, International Studies, MicroSociety, Career and Technical Education (CTE), World Languages (immersion and non-immersion) and many others. Magnet schools are typically more “hands on – minds on” and use an approach to learning that is inquiry or performance/project based. They use state, district, or Common Core standards in all subject areas, however, they are taught within the overall theme of the school.
Pillars of Magnet Schools
Diversity is a cornerstone to offering students a global educational experience. Schools, through recruitment and lotteries, strive to have student populations that are reflective of the community. Culturally competent educational environments model empathy, respect, and working collaboratively with a variety of persons.
Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development is developed to assure theme-based relevant instruction to students. Effective teaching strategies, emulating from best practices, are implemented through the inclusion of the school’s theme. Curriculum is based on high quality rigorous standards that prepare students for higher education and career success.
Academic Excellence is demonstrated through a commitment to multi-dimensional instruction focused on learner needs. Multiple assessment strategies are employed to monitor student learning, progress, and success. High expectations are clearly articulated and personalized supports are in place to address the interests and aspirations of all students.
High Quality Instructional Systems are rooted in well-prepared, well-educated professional educators. Teachers and administrators who are student-centered, collaborative, and inquisitive prepare learners to be world ready, workforce ready, and higher education ready.
Family and Community Partnerships are mutually beneficial, offer a system of support, shared ownership, and a caring spirit and are designed to enhance a theme integrated educational environment. Partnerships with parents are essential for a rich educational experience for students. Community partnerships include a diverse array of stakeholders including business, health and human services, and policy makers to support the education of all students.
What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?
Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. In Gold Standard PBL, Essential Project Design Elements include:
Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
Public Product -Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.