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  • LAUSD Magnet Schools: Is a Magnet School right for your child?

    Is a magnet school right for your child? - chieffamilyofficer.com

    Many parents think that since magnet schools are “better” schools, their children should attend a magnet school if at all possible. However, while magnets are often “better” schools, they are not one-size-fits-all.

    Factors to consider include:

    The school’s theme – Each magnet school has a specialized theme that should be considered when choosing a magnet school, along with the child’s interests and abilities. For example, a child interested in performing arts might be well-suited for a Fine, Performing and Visual Arts magnet program but ill-suited for a Math/Science/Technology magnet program. Or a child may not be able to handle the extra academic workload at Gifted/High-Ability magnet programs. Carefully consider whether your child and the school will be a good fit for each other.

    The reputation of the school and its staff – You’ll need to talk with other families who know the school you’re considering, but this is the only way you’ll be able to find out how responsive the teachers and staff are to parents, and what the atmosphere at the school is like. Again, this information will help you determine whether the school will be a good fit for your child.

    The school’s facilities and programs – Some magnet schools are attached to other schools or share their campus, while other magnet schools are free-standing and have their own campus. Magnet schools that share a campus with non-magnet schools may have access to greater facilities and programs. For example, I know one parent who chose not to apply to a free-standing magnet because the school did not offer any after-school care programs.

    Location – LAUSD will provide transportation if the student resides certain boundaries. The district recommends that parents contact LAUSD’s Transportation Branch at (323) 342-1340 before applying to a magnet school to determine if the closest pick-up/drop-off point is a reasonable distance from your home.

    Other options – I know many parents whose children attended a magnet elementary school, but went on to a different type of program in middle school. Many schools have other educational programs, such as GATE (gifted and talented), SAS (School for Advanced Studies), academies, learning communities, and more. Like my friends, you may find that one of these programs, rather than a magnet program, is the better fit for your child.

    Learn more about LAUSD Magnet Schools here.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.

    LAUSD Magnet Schools: Other LAUSD Options

    Non-Magnet LAUSD Options - chieffamilyofficer.com

    As you decide what magnet school program to apply for through the Choices application, keep in mind that magnet schools aren’t the only special program that you can apply for in LAUSD. The Los Angeles Unified School District offers other programs, including:

    Permits with Transportation (PWT) – Like the Magnet Program, PWT is a court-ordered integration program. PWT is available to residents who live near a PWT “sending school.” My understanding is that PWT “sending schools” are those that are designated as overcrowded. You apply for PWT using the same Choices application that you use to apply to a magnet school. It does not appear that you get to choose which PWT “receiving school” your child will attend.

    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – Public School Choice – NCLB requires that schools who do not achieve the required test scores be designated as “Program Improvement” (PI) schools. Under NCLB, students who attend a PI school or school at risk for PI may ask to transfer to a non-PI school. Priority for NCLB-PSC is given to the “lowest achieving children from low income families.” The annual Choices brochure contains a list of PI and at risk for PI schools. You apply for NCLB-PSC using the same Choices application that you use to apply to a magnet school.

    School For Advanced Studies (SAS) – SAS is a program for students who have been identified as gifted, highly gifted, and/or demonstrate superior academic achievement. The program provides these students with instruction that exceeds minimum state standards. Learn more about SAS here.

    Open Enrollment – If a school has space available, you can ask to have your child placed in that school. Check www.lausd.net, visit any LAUSD school, or call School Management Services at (213) 241-8044 for a list of participating schools and the number of openings at each school in May. Note that you will have to provide transportation for your child.

    Romero Open Enrollment – Students at schools on a state-wide list of 1,000 low-performing schools may enroll at another LAUSD school or a school outside of the district. Learn more about Romero Open Enrollment here.

    Charter Schools – Many charter schools are affiliated with LAUSD (and many are not). LAUSD now has a Charter School Division. Each school has its own application process that you must follow. Learn more about charter schools here and here.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.

    LAUSD Magnet Schools: Choices application for 2015-2016 school year available today

    Choices Application 2015-2016

    The eChoices web site is now live with everything you need to complete this year’s application.

    If you’re ready to go, start here. This year, you will need to create an account to apply online.

    If you want a little more information before you start completing the application, go here and here.

    The paper version of the Choices brochure should be available at your local LAUSD school, Educational Service Centers and PCSB Offices, and Los Angeles Public Libraries (although I’ve been told that at least some schools have not yet received the brochure).

    Schools have been hosting tours, and you can find out about them by checking each school’s online calendar or calling their office. You can also check out magnet schools by attending the handful of scheduled Magnet Fairs.

    Don’t forget that the deadline to apply is November 14, 2014.

    Good luck!

    LAUSD Magnet Schools: The Impact of Parent Involvement on Schools

    Importance of Parent Involvement - chieffamilyofficer.com

    This is the time of year when many parents start looking at schools, especially magnet schools in Los Angeles, since applications will be due in a couple of months. One important factor to consider is the degree of parent involvement at the schools you’re considering. Research shows that parent involvement results in:

    • Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates
    • Better school attendance
    • Increased motivation and better self-esteem
    • Lower rates of suspension
    • Decreased use of drugs and alcohol
    • Fewer instances of violent behavior

    Thus, the greater the parent involvement at a school, the greater the number of high-achieving students you’ll find there. To assess the extent of parent involvement at a school, you can attend open houses, PTA meetings, and events at the school that are open to the public. (If the school doesn’t have a web site with a calendar, call the office to find out when various events will be held.)

    Once you’ve selected a school for your child, be sure to get involved. While you don’t want to overextend yourself, participating in school events demonstrates the value you place on your child’s education, which affects your child’s own determination of the importance of his or her education. Good places to start are by speaking with your child’s teacher, attending PTA meetings, and even making an appointment with the principal to discuss any needs at the school.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.

    LAUSD Magnet Schools: What is Norm Day?

    What is Norm Day? - chieffamilyofficer.com

    If you’re an LAUSD parent, then you may have heard the staff or other parents mention “Norm Day” and wondered what it is, since this school year, it was this past Friday, September 12.

    “Norm Day” is a day approximately four after weeks after the start of the school year that is significant to parents if you feel strongly about your child’s teacher, and to school staff for a number of reasons.

    On Norm Day, the student population count is considered “official” – that means budget determinations will be made based on those numbers.

    This has a greater impact on schools than most parents realize. For example, positions that are dependent upon the number of students enrolled – such as a general assistant principal – may be added or taken away based upon the Norm Day count.

    The number of classes per grade level is also fixed on Norm Day. So, for grades K through 3, the student to teacher ratio is supposed to be 24 to 1. Now, suppose there are three classes of second grade on Norm Day, but each class has ballooned to 30 students per class. Students will be removed from each class and a fourth class will be created. (I don’t think classes would actually be allowed to get that big even before Norm Day, but that might depend on the school and/or budget constrictions.) Conversely, if the number of students is below the 24 to 1 ratio, the number of classes in the grade level may be reduced.

    Because of the movement that is sometimes required after Norm Day, LAUSD does not guarantee the placement of your child with the teacher he or she has on the first day of school. And, schools generally do not accommodate a request to change teachers until Norm Day. If you like your child’s teacher, you may find yourself breathing a sigh of relief once Norm Day has passed.

    Norm Day numbers may also be used by LAUSD to calculate a school’s budget. So while as parents we usually don’t see the day to day work of the administrative staff, Norm Day impacts them greatly by determining the number of teachers, the number of staff, the amount of discretionary funds allotted, and so on.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Grant Cochrane.

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