M2U2A1 My First Blog: Magnet Schools

By: Roberta Porter

Dated: 29th May 2015

Introduction

Magnet schools are part of a rapidly growing category of schools called alternative schools.  Alternative schools are schools which are different in some way from normal schools.  Magnet schools are public schools which are different in terms of their curricula, their courses or simply in the fact that they allow entrance beyond the normal geopolitical boundaries for school zones defined by governments.  Most magnet schools have various educational themes, a vision and a mission.  My interest in magnet schools stems from them being one of the first examples of ‘license to innovate’ in education.  Although other specialized schools exist all over the world, magnet schools in particular are a phenomenon of the U.S. educational system[1].

Magnet schools are not just schools with a theme.  One cannot discuss magnet schools without delving into the forces and conditions which created them.  The history of magnet schools is very much linked to the advances made by the American legislature and society in terms of civil rights and educational rights for children.

National Legislation in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s

The Civil Rights Act (1964) is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”[2]  Although it started out with ‘more bark than bite’, subsequent amendments improved the effectiveness of this act.  Among other things, the Civil Rights Act affected racial segregation in schools and granted the U.S. Justice Department the power to initiate desegregation lawsuits and (later on) to order desegregation mandates for schools.  The Civil Rights Act (1964) paved the way for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965), both of which were passed by U.S. President Lyndon Johnson after President John Kennedy’s assassination.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965) is to-date the most far-reaching federal legislation affecting education ever passed by the U.S. Congress.  It “funds primary and secondary education, emphasizes equal access to education, establishes high standards and accountability, aims to close or reduce the achievement gaps between students and furthermore stands by its mission to provide each child with fair and equal opportunities to achieve an exceptional education”.  The act allocates use of federal funding for professional development, instructional materials, resources to support educational programs, and promotion of parental involvement.  As such, in 1966, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, together with the Civil Rights Act allowed the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare to mandate that Southern school districts meet mathematical ratios of students by busing them to different schools and thereby desegregate schools by force.  Although that was a radical measure, in that era, it was certainly necessary in order to highlight the problems of segregation, unequal opportunity and unequal distribution of resources by race, and to transform the norms of racialism which were and had been widely accepted by society for hundreds of years.

Unfortunately, racism in the country was so rife at that time that – just to prevent their children attending school with black children, many white families moved away into suburban areas to be in a completely different district and evade the reach of the federal government’s busing programs.  This phenomenon is known colloquially as “white flight” and led to another phenomenon called ‘minority group isolation’: which is basically a high concentration of a racial minority in one area[3].  As a result of these failed attempts at forced desegregation, throughout the course of the next ten years governments and policymakers started looking into voluntary desegregation programs and what could be done to make them work.  This is when alternative schooling systems and particularly magnet schools started to take the forefront as a means of obtaining both an excellent education and desegregating schools[4].  It was found through mostly trial and error that the schools that worked best to fulfil the governments’ aims were alternative schools where schooling was less rigid, where there was much more freedom in the way the curricula was administered and taught, and where student instruction was much more personalized.  A good example of a magnet school is the Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas, which first opened in 1971.  This school’s mission was to focus on and develop a career path for students.  It succeeded in attracting students of just about every race, creed, income level, and even age – as it also had adult students at night.  Furthermore, it is still successful and in operation today.

Magnet schools are called ‘magnet’ because the guiding principle behind their establishment was that they would be so distinctive and appealing that they would attract the attendance of students from beyond the boundaries of each school’s official schooling neighborhoods and or districts[5] – like a magnet – and in this way encourage desegregation of schools and neighborhoods.  The term “magnet” was in fact coined by the Performing and Visual Arts [Magnet] School of Houston, Texas in 1975[6].

The Spread of Magnet Schools

In the 1980’s magnet schools began to appear in most major cities.  Nevertheless it was the U.S. Federal Court System which catalyzed the true proliferation of magnet schools by approving special enrichment programs to overcome the effects of past discrimination along with their mandatory desegregation order[7].

The U.S. Federal Government authorized the Federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program in 1985.  The stated intent of this program was: “To reduce, eliminate, or prevent minority group isolation and provide instruction in magnet schools that would substantially strengthen students’ knowledge and skills”.[8]

The result of this incentivized approach – coupled with the gradual evolution of societal attitudes towards an acceptance of racial intermingling – was an improved quality of education and (essentially voluntary) desegregation.  At magnet schools enrolment is based on student choice; partially because forced desegregation alone did not work.  Ironically, the Law is used in magnet schools to give schools, principals and teachers more autonomy than traditional schools.  In general, magnet schools receive a lot of support from the school district, both financial and otherwise, though statistics show that after the initial financial outlay, many magnet schools are more successful than tradition schools in eventually becoming self-sufficient[9].

Even in 2015, several school districts are still implementing court-mandated desegregation plans.  As more districts meet the bill, the initial role of magnet schools becomes less crucial.  It should be noted that despite the fact this was the main principle behind the creation of magnet schools, not all magnet schools today satisfy this principle.  “Today magnet schools are still used to reduce racial isolation [on both sides], but [more and more] they are […] considered superior options within the public sector for all students, even in districts of primarily one race.”[10]  The main roles being served now could perhaps be better described as: enhancing student learning, narrowing the achievement gap and offering high quality alternatives in public education.

International Legislation in the 1990’s and 2000’s

In a post-World War II environment, the United Nation’s (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was supported and signed by 86% of member states.  Its mission was “to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”.  The definitions declared in this document are binding on all members, though it does not hold the status of a treaty.  Slowly, almost all the truths enshrined in this declaration have been embraced in principle by the whole world, though actions have been slower to follow this acceptance.  (As we saw it took the United States of America until 1964 to enact the Civil Rights Act and still later to support it with meaningful sanctions.  Other nations such as South Africa were even further from this reality, taking almost until the turn of the century to fall in line.)  In 1966, UN members signed another covenant: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which this time was binding on all signatories. In 1989 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (another binding covenant) was signed by all 195 United Nations member states.

Coming up to the 1990’s, the technological and computer age, – during which time communications on a global scale were becoming a reality – not-for-profit organizations and governments had started to examine educational standards and goals from both a human rights perspective and a global perspective.  Educational theories (such as the human capital theory purporting its ‘basic needs approach’, ‘education for liberation theme’ and assertion that education was a human right) were starting to become largely accepted and mainstream.  The chasm between education levels in developing countries and that of developed countries and the huge variation of educational levels within a single country according to the social conditions of individuals (such as marginalized populations and socioeconomic status) was now seen as unacceptable.

At the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Conference on Education for All, which took place in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990, delegates from 155 countries affirmed that education was a fundamental human right and that inequalities in education levels and educational opportunities was harming us all and could not be allowed to continue.  It was decided that at least the basic learning needs of all should be met and they pledged that all countries would meet their “collective commitments” to their populace.  To ensure that this lofty aim would not disappear on the wind of their words, an assessment plan, the Education for All (EFA) 2000 Assessment, was created to track the achievement of this aim by all member countries over the next decade.  At the end of this decade, at the World Education Forum, in Dakar, Senegal (2000), the global community met once again to commiserate on their findings and discover what progress had been made and what progress was lacking.  It was concluded that progress had been made, but not nearly enough.  In 2000, participants reaffirmed the pledges made in Jomtien at the World Declaration on Education for All (1990) and simultaneously constructed the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All (EFA): Meeting our Collective Commitments whose goal was to transform education worldwide within a generation (15 years) by achieving a set of six measurable targets called the Education for All goals in five key areas[11].

The Framework for All determined that in-depth global assessments were needed on an (mostly) annual basis to evaluate progress in every country for the next 15 years.  What would follow would become known as “the most extensive evaluation of education ever undertaken”: the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) which spanned 2000 to 2015.  It was deemed that “states should strengthen or develop national plans by 2002 to achieve EFA goals and targets by no later than 2015.”[12]

America’s Response

Within the two year deadline for establishing a national program, America responded to UNESCO’s directive by strengthening its national education plan with the No Child Left Behind Act (2002) “NCLB”, which describes itself as “an act to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind” – almost exactly the same themes espoused by the Education for (EFA) All mission and vision statements.  The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (2002) “NCLB” is actually the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965) “ESEA”.  In one sweep, NCLB:

  • re-authorized ESEA,
  • reinforced the U.S. national education program in line with EFA goals,
  • re-confirmed the Federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program (1985) (“the Magnet Schools Law”[13]) – which enabled more freedom and choice for parents in terms of educational options for their children, and
  • established systems for monitoring and assessment of their progress towards EFA goals, and
  • in so doing satisfied EFA’s reporting requirements.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to judge whether NCLB has had the desired effect[14] of ramping up teacher and student performance and thereby improving student learning and student acquisition of basic English and math skills and proficiency.  Nevertheless, it can be stated that the law appears to satisfy in every way the UNESCO directive that preceded it[15], including student assessments, raising and standardizing the required basic education level, attention to minority populations and educational accountability practices.  This last point of ‘educational accountability’ has demonstrated to all countries that “the quality of teachers and their continuing education and training is central to the achievement of quality learning”[16].

Educational Evolution

The problem with the campaign of Education for All (EFA) when it started in the 1990’s was that Education is a Fluid Concept.  In the decade following the start of the EFA movement, (the 1990’s) technological and other trends emerged that made it clear by the year 2000 that the basic literacies in English and math that UNESCO was seeking were no longer anywhere near sufficient for survival in that world, hence why greater speed of transformation was demanded of every country worldwide.  In the following fifteen years, from 2000 to 2015, technology has revolutionized the world even more.  It is now obvious that the traditional methods of education instruction that appeared to be working for centuries are no longer adequate to provide the skills sets students entering the work world now need.  We can only be thankful that the Framework for Education, Education for All (“Framework for Education”) mandated such a wide-scale and significant program and requested countries exhibit greater, faster growth and improvements over the last fifteen years, otherwise the world would have been even further behind what is now considered necessary minimum education – and there would have been an even wider gulf between the advantaged and the disadvantaged, had the progress which occurred not taken place.  In 2009 Microsoft Partners for Learning launched the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research from the realization that a person in today’s working world (virtually anywhere in the world) needed more than just basic literacy in math and English in order to be considered fully literate in modern society.  This research project investigates how teachers can teach to foster development of these additional attributes in pupils.  There is now an abundance of research on the internet on what works in education – which is available to anyone who searches for it.  Standardized test score have made it even easier to figure out which schooling systems are successful and which are not.

 

Magnet Schools’ Effect on General Education

 

It appears that Magnet schools have been pivotal in achieving the NCLB goals of transforming education for all and closing the achievement gap between the lowest performers and the highest achievers.  Traditional educational structures do not seem able to adequately respond to this mandate even with gigantean efforts by teachers and other staff of offering supplementary lessons, inundating students with homework and other unsuccessful strategies.  Magnet schools recognized that students learn in different ways and have different interests (and so do their parents).  When we instruct in a way that validates and upholds those interests (i.e. recognizing the student as a person with preferences and desires), students perform better and obtain more help and support from their parents – a key component of the student learning equation.  A magnet school succeeds because it attracts students and teachers who want to be there and whose parents also want them to be there.  The students (and or parents) will have chosen that school, not simply had their child assigned there[17].

In addition to assisting with desegregation, improving students’ academic performance and offering students more options in terms of various curricular and extra-curricular themes and activities, magnet schools have also been able to reverse the trend of declining enrollment in public schools.  Magnet schools are demonstrating clearly to the world what is best practice in innovative educational methodologies, instructional practices and in school culture.  The effect of international and national laws demanding equitable treatment of individuals regardless of race, native language, gender, and socioeconomic status has led to many traditional schools – e.g. those who were not meeting NCLB targets – starting to mirror some of the Magnet schools’ behaviors[18] in terms of teaching and organization.  Perhaps soon all schools will be Magnet schools.

Requirements for a Magnet School

It is clear that parents actually want their students to have a specialized education, which is why Magnet schools with various schooling themes (such as the arts, technology or the sciences) are so popular and successful.  Studies show that to be successful, Magnet schools must have community “buy-in” and involvement.  They cannot just do a survey and set-up a school with that theme (even if it is in line with survey results of what parents want) and expect it to endure.  Research shows a Magnet school will not survive unless it involves the parents, the school district and other community stakeholders such as businesses and various local organizations in the planning stages before the school even opens its doors.  International and local law have amazingly played a very significant role in leading to equality and equal opportunities, especially when accountability is demanded and sanctions for non-compliance are imposed.  The emergence of Magnet schools has demonstrated that the innovative spirit in the American society is far from dead.  Once equality requirements and standards were written into law and compliance essentially forced onto school boards and schools, when principals and school superintendents saw that the traditional structure could not conform to what was being demanded of them, many imagined another route to arriving at that juncture: alternative schools and its subset Magnet schools.

Drawbacks

A major drawback of UNESCO’s Framework for Education, EFA and NCLB plans is that for the most part gifted students have been ignored.  The focus on getting every single child to perform at the minimum basic level of proficiency in English and math has left gifted children largely on the sidelines.  To answer legal mandates schools may have cancelled their gifted program to re-route those funds towards remedial education, personalized instruction and bringing everyone up to the same level.  Children who should be in gifted programs may not get any attention until their peers have at least attained the minimum basic skills and proficiency levels in academics.  Another drawback along the same lines is that there is no incentive for schools to improve beyond the minimum.  On the flip side there has been a benefit from this attitude for special needs children as for the first time they are expected to perform and improve every year and partly as a result of this expectation they have actually improved.  Special needs children may finally achieve their full potential with these new laws.  Personally, I think this slightly unequal treatment is fair if it is temporary.  To focus on something is to shift focus from something else.  By definition, gifted children should be outperforming everyone else academically.  I do not believe in being a society (global or otherwise) of people who look the other way and concentrate on one’s own development to the exclusion of everyone else.  We should care about the collective performance and help those lagging behind to catch up.  For example, in a race, who should we consider the better runner or person?  The runner who is the fastest but who comes second in the race because he stopped to help a fallen colleague?  Or the runner who ran the race at full speed and won, never considering stopping to assist someone else?  I do not believe moral obligations can be disassociated from teaching and learning and collective human rights.  If we learn anything from the eventual success and obvious necessity of the Civil Rights Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and No Child Left Behind, it is that the most disadvantaged among us will be neglected forever unless change is made compulsory and sanctions are put in place to back-up such orders.

Gifted and talented students may not have the chance to perform to their full potential, but some things are more important that just performing.  Human kindness, collective good and conscience are such things.  In fact, this is part of our natural instinct.  For example:  If you are an older sibling, you know that sometimes your mother had to tend to the baby and was unable to give you as much attention as you might have liked because your younger sibling needed it more from her at that time.  You were already performing at a higher, more self-sufficient level.  You may not have liked this, but it is life and it is fair.  It did not mean your mother loved you any less or that she loved the baby more.  People may not want to hear this analogy in relation to gifted and talented children but it is true.  The disadvantaged have suffered for far longer and their case is more critical than that of gifted and talented children.  We are talking about equipping them with the tools for their basic survival in the working world and in society – something, that arguably if a child is gifted they may already have or are well on their way to acquiring without much interference.

 

Conclusion

Over and over again we hear principals who have transformed their schools attributing that transformation as thanks to the dedication, commitment and high quality of their teachers.  This statement has always coincided with my belief about which piece of the educational puzzle is most crucial for successful learning in school.  I still believe the teachers and their quality of teaching are the most important input in a child’s learning journey.  Nevertheless, the research for this paper has revealed to me the crucial role that laws leading to educational reform can play.  For the first time I now realize the immense impact international conventions can have on educational systems and what is done in classrooms around the world.  I understand now that great teachers are not enough to make a sweeping difference.  Praise is certainly merited by teachers, but each teacher is just one person.  To have large-scale transformation and impact there must be a coordinated effort backed with a lot of time and resources – something a single teacher cannot hope to accomplish.  Such is where the participation and support of governments and international organizations is key.  Teachers need governmental support to perform to the best of their abilities and to effect the most improvements in their students’ learning.  National laws coupled with accountability can also force teachers to reflect on teaching strategies they employ and lead them to question objectively whether those strategies and techniques are working well enough and fast enough to satisfy national objectives.  In this way we see an evolution and improvement of instruction; (they have to “step up” their game).  If one searches and truly wishes to learn which teaching methods and schooling cultures are most advantageous in producing measurable and rapid learning and motivation in pupils, the information (backed by reams of data) is there within our grasp in this modern world.  What is needed now is for all the various organizations to come together to supply the funding and training and replicate those scenarios everywhere else in the world and in every school in the world for the benefit of all[19].

Appendix

How to Start a Magnet School Program   Education for All: Five Key Areas     USA Ranking out of 65 Countries
1.    Choose appealing and sustainable themes. Policy dialogue Year Math Science Reading
2.    Select and develop quality staff. Monitoring 2000 20 15 16
3.    Cultivate community resources. Advocacy 2003 28 22 18
4.    Define special roles. Mobilization of Funding 2012 36 28 24
5.    Build district support. Capacity Development
Table 1.0 Innovations in Education:   Table 2.0  Dakar Framework for Action   Table 3.0  Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs   Education for All (EFA)   USA Ranking out of 65 Countries
(U.S. Department of Education, OII) (UNESCO) (OECD)
Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs

Plan of Action for Creating a Successful Magnet School

Education for All (EFA) Goals:  Six internationally agreed education goals aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.
A.      Before the Doors Open: Planning

1.       Develop a Viable Theme and Mission

2.       Establish a Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum

3.       Attract Quality Leaders and Staff

B.      After the Doors Open: Implementing

4.       Maintain the Theme With Integrity

5.       Establish Equitable Practices for a Diverse Student Body

6.       Develop a Culture of Empowerment

7.       Provide Ongoing Professional Development

8.       Build Leadership Capacity

C.      Keeping the Doors Open: Sustaining Success

9.       Adopt a Continuous Improvement Model

10.   Build Win-Win Partnerships

11.   Develop Community Outreach

12.   Align With a District Vision

1.       Goal 1: Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
2.       Goal 2: Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
3.       Goal 3: Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs.
4.       Goal 4: Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
5.       Goal 5: Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
6.       Goal 6: Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
Table 4.0  U.S. Department of Education, OII Table 5.0  UNESCO’s EFA 6 International Goals
Dakar World Education Forum’s Collective Commitments – Meeting in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000
1.       We, the participants in the World Education Forum, commit ourselves to the achievement of education for all (EFA) goals and targets for every citizen and for every society.
2.       The Dakar Framework is a collective commitment to action.  Governments have an obligation to ensure that EFA goals and targets are reached and sustained.  This is a responsibility that will be met most effectively through broad-based partnerships within countries, supported by cooperation with regional and international agencies and institutions.
3.       We reaffirm the vision of the World Declaration on Education for All (Jomtien 1990), supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that all children, young people and adults have the human right to benefit from an education that will meet their basic learning needs in the best and fullest sense of the term, an education that includes learning to know, to do, to live together and to be.  It is an education geared to tapping each individual’s talents and potential, and developing learners’ personalities, so that they can improve their lives and transform their societies.
6.       Education is a fundamental human right.  It is the key to sustainable development, peace and stability within and among countries, and thus an indispensable means for effective participation in the societies and economies of the 21st century, which are affected by rapid globalization.  Achieving EFA goals should be postponed no longer.  The basic learning needs of all can and must be met as a matter of urgency.
7.       We hereby collectively commit ourselves to the attainment of the following goals:
(i)         expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children;
(ii)       ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality;
(iii)      ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs;
(iv)     achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults;
(v)       eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality;
(vi)     improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
8.       To achieve these goals, we the governments, organizations, agencies, groups and associations represented at the World Education Forum pledge ourselves to:
(i)         mobilize strong national and international political commitment for education for all, develop national action plans and enhance significantly investment in basic education;
(ii)       promote EFA policies within a sustainable and well-integrated sector framework clearly linked to poverty elimination and development strategies;
(iii)      ensure the engagement and participation of civil society in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of strategies for educational development;
(iv)     develop responsive, participatory and accountable systems of educational governance and management;
(v)       meet the needs of education systems affected by conflict, natural calamities and instability and conduct educational programs in ways that promote mutual understanding, peace and tolerance, and that help to prevent violence and conflict;
(vi)     implement integrated strategies for gender equality in education which recognize the need for changes in attitudes, values and practices;
(vii)    implement as a matter of urgency education programs and actions to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic;
(viii)  create safe, healthy, inclusive and equitably resourced educational environments conducive to excellence in learning, with clearly defined levels of achievement for all;
(ix)     enhance the status, morale and professionalism of teachers;
(x)       harness new information and communication technologies to help achieve EFA goals;
(xi)     systematically monitor progress towards EFA goals and strategies at the national, regional and international levels; and
(xii)    build on existing mechanisms to accelerate progress towards education for all.

Table 7.0  Specific Targets of the Dakar World Education Forum (2000)’s Collective Commitments

Organization Sub-Unit Name of Project or Paper Aim – Mechanism Notes
Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB) Uses data from: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Uses data from: Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) To learn about the world’s best performing education systems and what sets them apart. Discusses and draws conclusions from existing data.
Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research Innovative Teaching and Learning Research To identify which innovative teaching methods or educational systems are most successful in developing students 21st century skills – through data collection in several countries using specially adapted reporting and analysis mechanisms Pilot study completed and published in 2009.  Findings and Implications published in 2011.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) project To analyze how young people learn and under which conditions and dynamics they might learn better – by identifying concrete cases of innovative learning environments from all over the world. Results published in 2013.
U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) Innovations in Education: Magnet Schools Programs – Creating and Sustaining Successful Magnet Schools 1.   To fulfill the Congressional mandate of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965), as reauthorized by No Child Left Behind (2002), to collect and disseminate to the general public information on successful magnet school programs.

2.   To determine what it takes to make a successful, sustainable magnet school – by analyzing the most successful magnet schools and districts in the U.S.A.

Interim results published in 2004.  Final results published in 2008.
United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Education for All (EFA) Dakar Framework for Education (2000) & Global Monitoring Report (GMR) 1.   To assess progress towards achieving the 6 ‘Dakar’ EFA goals to which over 160 countries committed themselves in 2000 – by tracking progress, identifying policy reforms and best practice in all areas relating to EFA, drawing attention to emerging challenges and promoting international cooperation in favor of education.

2.   To inform policymakers on specific topics such as marginalized populations, conflict, youth skills and teaching and learning.

Reports published in: 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015.

Table 8.0  List of Contemporary Educational Research Projects or Papers

References

Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB)  http://www.ncee.org/programs-affiliates/center-on-international-education-benchmarking/top-performing-countries/

Civil Rights Act of 1964. (n.d.).  Wikipedia.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

Dillon, Erin & Rotherham, Andy.  (2007).  “States’ Evidence: What It Means to Make ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ Under NCLB”. http://www.educationsector.org/publications/states-evidence-what-it-means-make-adequate-yearly-progress-under-nclb  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act

EduCause Learning Initiative.  (2012)  7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms.  educause.edu/eli  Retrieved from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

European Commission (EC).  (2012-11-20).  Press Release: Commission presents new Rethinking Education strategy.  Brussels/Strasbourg.  Retrieved from http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1233_en.htm

Ford, Donna.  (2008).  Closing the Achievement Gap.  Vanderbilt University.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adMFCNdbIsA

Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research.  (2011).  Innovative Teaching and Learning Research: 2011 Findings and Implications.  Retrieved from www.itlresearch.com

Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research.  (2010).  Innovative Teaching and Learning Research: The Pilot Year Full Report – October 2010.  Retrieved from www.itlresearch.com

Magnet Schools. (n.d.).  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnet_school

Magnet Schools of America.  http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) Project Summary, 2012.  Retrieved from oecd.org/edu/ceri/innovativelearningenvironments.htm

Sen, Amartya (1999). Development as Freedom.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  (2004).  Education for All (EFA).  Global Monitoring Report (GMR).  Paris.

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  (2000).  Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments.  Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  (1966).  Recommendations Concerning the Status of Teachers.  Paris.

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Education for All (EFA).  Global Monitoring Report (GMR) 2009: Overcoming Inequality – Why Governance Matters; 2010: Reaching the Marginalized; 2014: Teaching and Learning – Achieving Quality for All; 2015: Education for All 2000 – 2015: Achievements and Challenges.  Paris.  Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  (1990).  World Conference on Education for All.  Jomtien, Thailand.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII).  (2004).  Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs.  Washington, D.C.

U.S Department of Education.  (n.d.)  No Child Left Behind (Elementary and Secondary Education Act).  Washington, D.C.  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/index.html

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII).  (2008).  Innovations in Education: Creating and Sustaining Successful K-8 Magnet Schools.  Washington, D.C.

Williams Fortune, Tara.  (2012).  “What the Research Says about Immersion”  Chinese Language Learning in the Early Grades: A Handbook of Resources and Best Practices for Mandarin Immersion.  The Asia Society.  Retrieved from http://asiasociety.org/files/chinese-earlylanguage.pdf

Yates, Chris.  (2007).  Teacher education policy: International development discourses and the development of teacher education.  Paper produced for UNESCO.  Institute of Education, University of London.

End Notes

[1]  “E.g. arts, sciences, social studies, general academics, aerospace education, communications, culinary arts, environmental science, international studies, International Baccalaureate, language immersion, law enforcement, military science, Montessori, and Paideia”  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII).  (2004).  Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs.  Washington, D.C.

[2] Civil Rights Act of 1964. (n.d.).  Wikipedia.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

[3]  Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[4] “In 1970, with the assistance of $6 million from the federal government, Minneapolis, Minnesota, mounted an alternative experiment in the southeast section of the city.  This district opened four elementary schools and one high school with different organizational designs.  Of the four elementary schools, the least structured was referred to as “free,” in which the students directed their own education.  The second type was called “open,” and had an informal classroom design.  The third was “continuous progress,” and the fourth a traditional approach, which Minneapolis called “contemporary.”  All four were successful.  Why?  More than likely because the teachers and students wanted to be there, and the parents of those students had chosen the schools for their own children.”  Retrieved from Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[5]  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII).  (2004).  Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs.  Washington, D.C.

[6]  Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[7]  Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[8]  Magnet Schools. (n.d.).  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnet_school

[9] U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII).  (2004).  Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs.  Washington, D.C.

[10]  Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[11]  United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  (2000).  Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments.

[12]  United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  (2000).  Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments.

[13] Prior to the Magnet Schools Law, public schools in all neighborhoods had been losing students to private and faith-based schools.  Retrieved from Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[14]  “Effects on student assessment:  Several analyses of state accountability systems that were in place before NCLB indicate that outcomes accountability led to faster growth in achievement for the states that introduced such systems.[12]  The direct analysis of state test scores before and after enactment of NCLB also supports its positive impact.[13]  A primary criticism asserts that NCLB reduces effective instruction and student learning by causing states to lower achievement goals and motivate teachers to “teach to the test.”  A primary supportive claim asserts that systematic testing provides data that shed light on which schools don’t teach basic skills effectively, so that interventions can be made to improve outcomes for all students while reducing the achievement gap for disadvantaged and disabled students.[14]”  Retrieved from Magnet Schools. (n.d.).  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnet_school

[15]  Refer to NCLB’s goals and requirements in each of the categories mentioned: U.S Department of Education.  (n.d.)  No Child Left Behind (Elementary and Secondary Education Act).  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/index.html

Quality of education

  • Increases the quality of education by requiring schools to improve their performance
  • Improves quality of instruction by requiring schools to implement “scientifically based research” practices in the classroom, parent involvement programs, and professional development activities for those students that are not encouraged or expected to attend college.
  • Supports early literacy through the Early Reading First initiative.
  • Emphasizes reading, language arts, mathematics and science achievement as “core academic subjects.”[28]

Student performance in other subjects (besides reading and math) will be measured as a part of overall progress.

Effects on racial and ethnic minority students

Attention to minority populations

  • Seeks to narrow the class and racial achievement gap in the United States by creating common expectations for all. NCLB has shown mixed success in eliminating the racial achievement gap. Although test scores are improving, they are improving equally for all races, which means that minority students are still behind whites.[citation needed]
  • Requires schools and districts to focus their attention on the academic achievement of traditionally under-served groups of children, such as low-income students, students with disabilities, and students of “major racial and ethnic subgroups”.[66] Each state is responsible for defining major racial and ethnic subgroups itself.[66] Many previous state-created systems of accountability measured only average school performance—so schools could be highly rated even if they had large achievement gaps between affluent and disadvantaged students.

Education critics argue that although the legislation is marked as an improvement to the ESEA in desegregating the quality of education in schools, it is actually harmful.  The legislation has become virtually the only federal social policy meant to address wide-scale social inequities, and its policy features inevitably stigmatize both schools attended by children of the poor and children in general.

If the school’s results are repeatedly poor, then steps are taken to improve the school.[8]

  • Schools that miss AYP for a second consecutive year are publicly labeled as in need of improvement, and must develop a two-year improvement plan for the subject that the school is not teaching well. Students have the option to transfer to a better school within the school district, if any exists.
  • Missing AYP in the third year forces the school to offer free tutoring and other supplemental education services to struggling students.
  • If a school misses its AYP target for a fourth consecutive year, the school is labelled as requiring “corrective action,” which might involve wholesale replacement of staff, introduction of a new curriculum, or extending the amount of time students spend in class.
  • A fifth year of failure results in planning to restructure the entire school; the plan is implemented if the school fails to hit its AYP targets for the sixth year in a row. Common options include closing the school, turning the school into a charter school, hiring a private company to run the school, or asking the state office of education to run the school directly.

[16]  United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Education for All (EFA).  Global Monitoring Report (GMR) 2009: Overcoming Inequality – Why Governance Matters; 2010: Reaching the Marginalized; 2014: Teaching and Learning – Achieving Quality for All; 2015: Education for All 2000 – 2015: Achievements and Challenges.  Paris.  Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org

[17]  Magnet Schools of America (n.d.).  A Brief History of Magnet Schools.  Retrieved from: http://www.magnet.edu/resources/msa-history

[18] Blank, R. K., Dentler, R. A., Baltzell, D. C., & Chabotar, K.  (1983).  Survey of magnet schools: Analyzing a model for quality integrated education.  Prepared by James H. Lowry and Associates and Abt Associates for U. S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

[19]  For example: We have seen the Leader in Me programs working, especially in Magnet schools.  We know about the amazing educational systems in Finland and Singapore.  We know about the success of ‘flipped classrooms’.  We know that dual language immersion produces the greatest success in language learning.

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