General Description

Magnet programs of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) offer students educational choices from among a number of specialized programs at grade levels kindergarten–grade 12. (Montessori accepts students three and four years old.) Each magnet program has been developed in terms of the Center of Excellence concept. Thus, each program includes both a strong academic program and also an enrichment program designed around a specialized theme that meets student needs, interests, and abilities, and having relevance in today's society. See References (a) and (b). Students who enroll in a magnet school outside their attendance zones will be eligible for bus transportation as available. For additional information see References (c) and (d).


Magnet programs are divided into four basic categories:

Add-on Programs

In the Add-on Programs (AOPs), the specialized program is added on to the school's regular curriculum. Every student in the school receives instruction in the specialty area taught by teachers qualified in that area. Students attending a fine arts magnet school AOP, for example, are exposed to in-depth experiences in the fine arts, which may include lessons in instrumental and choral music, dance, art, drama, and gymnastics.


A School-Within-A-School (SWAS) program provides instruction in a specialized area to a specific group of students in an existing school. Although these students meet apart for the specialty classes, they may join with the rest of the student body for studies not related to the area of specialization. The High School for Engineering Professions, located on the campus of Booker T. Washington High School, is an example of a SWAS program for students interested in engineering or other science-related fields.

Separate and Unique Schools

The Separate and Unique Schools (SUS) program provides a unique curriculum and single educational focus for all students attending the school. Every student in an SUS is a transfer student since this type of school has no attendance zone. The High School for Performing and Visual Arts is an example of an SUS.

Cluster Centers

Cluster Centers (CCs) programs provide elementary students with unique educational field experiences in environments created to celebrate diversity. Emphasis is on environmental science, but all content areas are covered.


The following enrichment programs are offered under the magnet umbrella.

Elementary Programs. Elementary magnet programs include the following:


Environmental Science;

Creative and Performing Arts;

Fine Arts;

Extended Instructional Day;

Mathematics, Science, and Technology;

Foreign Language and World Cultures;






Physical Development;


Dual Language; and


Elementary CCs

Elementary CCs include the following: Grade 5, Outdoor Learning Centers at Cullen and Olympia.

Secondary Programs

Secondary magnet programs include the following:

Aviation Sciences;


Engineering Professions;

Computer Technology;

World Languages;

Fine Arts;

Health Professions;

Hotel, Restaurant Management;

Mathematics, Science, and Technology;

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice;

Performing and Visual Arts;

Business Administration;

Teaching Professions;

Mathematics and Foreign Language;



International Studies;

Meteorology and Space Sciences;

Leadership Academy;


Environmental Science;

Landscape Design and Architecture;

Research; and

Coalition of Essential Schools.

Elementary CCs


Additional information regarding the magnet programs is available in the Assessment of Student Performance in Magnet Programs submitted annually to the HISD Board of Education and References (e), (f), and (g).

Entrance Requirements

Qualifications for entering a magnet program are specific to each program. Generally, entrance to elementary programs is based on interest and available space. Secondary programs require more specific qualifications for entrance. It is necessary to check each program's description for that information. A student may transfer into a magnet program at any time during the school year if he or she is qualified and if there is available space. Once enrolled in a magnet program (including Vanguard), a student can only transfer at the end of a school year. Information and assistance is available from magnet programs at (713) 556-6947 or from the individual magnet programs.

Exiting Procedure

With the exception of Vanguard programs, a student may be exited from a magnet program by the following mandatory procedure:

Expectations Agreement

Upon the student's acceptance into the program, a written agreement defining the expectations of the school, the parent, and the student is signed by the parent, student, and school representative.

Probationary Status and Growth Plan

If the student fails to adhere to the expectations outlined in the agreement, he or she will be placed on probationary status and given a growth plan. A designated time for evaluation of the student's progress will be set. The parent will be informed of the probationary status by mail. The parent may request a conference with appropriate personnel at the magnet program.

Transfer of Student

A review committee will determine if the student has met the requirements of the growth plan. If it is determined that the requirements of the growth plan have not been met, the student will be required to return to the home school at the end of the school year, unless another alternative is available and has been mutually agreed to by the sending school, receiving school, and parent or guardian (or student if he or she is age 18 or older).


This regulation does not require consultation.

Maintenance Responsibility

The assistant superintendent, Academic School Support Services, is responsible for maintenance of this regulation.


(a)Board Policy EGA(LEGAL)

(b)Board Policy EGA(LOCAL)



(e)Assessment of Student Performance in Magnet Programs

(f)Elementary School Guidelines

(g)Secondary School Guidelines

Houston ISD


LDU 2009.12

DATE ISSUED: 12/14/2009