Drawing Across School Boundaries: How Federally Funded Magnet Schools Recruit and Admit Students

Drawing Across School Boundaries: How Federally Funded Magnet Schools Recruit and Admit Students

Published: Jan 27, 2021
Publisher: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation
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Authors

Moira McCullough

Christina Clark Tuttle

Key Findings
  • MSAP-funded schools report using a variety of strategies to recruit students, targeting those the schools believe are likely to exercise choice. Priorities for recruiting students reflect efforts to desegregate and diversify. However, fewer than one in four schools offered resource-intensive accommodations that might be particularly attractive to high needs families who want to visit the schools or meet staff but lack access to childcare or transportation.
  • Perceived stigma of low academic quality and lack of diversity are top reported obstacles to recruiting students. Challenges related to transportation and competition from other choice schools were less prevalent.
  • MSAP-funded schools are most likely to give preference in admissions to students from affiliated families or communities. For example, about 70% of schools give preference to siblings of students already enrolled in the magnet and 59% give preference to students in nearby neighborhoods or schools.

Federally funded magnet schools use a variety of strategies to recruit and admit new students, with a goal of improving student diversity. Schools report that recruitment is most often hindered by perceived concerns about academic quality and diversity. Most schools attract just enough applicants to fill open seats and give preference in admissions to affiliated families and communities when seats are limited.

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