Magnet schools in Houston (HISD)? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 08-17-2008, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, I just moved to Houston and am looking at schools for my son because I will be buying a house in the next year or 2 and want to pick a good area. He's only 9 months old but I want to be prepared. Right now I live in the suburbs to save money but I HATE it and want to move to the Heights/Montrose/Rice Village area when he gets closer to starting school. I know HISD is not good, but I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with the magnet schools in the areas I mentioned? Good/bad experiences? I'm specifically interested in the dual language immersion/multicultural magnets, so if anyone has any experience with any of those, I would love to hear it.. But even with the magnet system in Houston in general would be helpful.

Also, how hard are they to get your child into? How does it work (application and they decide who gets in, lottery, waiting list, etc.)? Can you put your child in a waiting list years prior (if it works with a waiting list) or is there any benefit to getting involved somehow early or does everyone pretty much have to wait until their child is ready to go? Do they give preference to certain things (like living close to the school)?

Any info. or advice is appreciated. I plan on attending the Open House this fall as well.

Thanks.

Jill
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#2 of 14 Old 08-17-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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pm'ed you

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#3 of 14 Old 08-17-2008, 01:32 PM
 
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I once tutored a student (kindergarten!) whose family wanted to get her into the magnet program in HISD. Not sure if it was because of the magnet they were looking at or if it applied to the whole system, but there was a pretty rigorous testing program. She was a very bright little girl, but her parents were really disappointed with the kindergarten in the public schools in the 'burbs. Her mom was a teacher from California and very progressive-minded...probably teachers in the small-town-turned-'burb (by the sprawl) didn't appreciate her approach.

I would guess that most families with kids in the areas you mention send their kids to private schools.

Have you Googled it to death already? The accountability ratings just came up for 2007-'08 on the TEA website if that makes any difference.

GL!
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#4 of 14 Old 08-18-2008, 12:23 AM
 
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There are many magnet programs like Wilson is Montessori and Helms is Spanish immersion and Harvard is math, etc. Vanguard or "G/T" is what all the rigorous testing is for and the most difficult to get into is River Oaks Elementary. Many of the magnets us a lottery system for those who do not live in the zone. Travis and Harvard are sought after in the Heights and Wilson and another (name escapes me now) in Montrose.
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#5 of 14 Old 08-20-2008, 01:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by txbikegrrl View Post
Many of the magnets us a lottery system for those who do not live in the zone.
So that is what I was wondering about.. Do they give preference to people who live close to the school or is everyone in a general lottery? I'm assuming by the zone you mean some area around the school.. This is good to know because I will make sure I move close to the school I want my son to go to.
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#6 of 14 Old 08-20-2008, 01:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jdavidian View Post
So that is what I was wondering about.. Do they give preference to people who live close to the school or is everyone in a general lottery? I'm assuming by the zone you mean some area around the school.. This is good to know because I will make sure I move close to the school I want my son to go to.
I have a lot of experience with the magnet programs in HISD- though I am not 100% up to date through the most recent round of changes.

Many magnets (but not all...) give priority to students zoned to that school. If you're not zoned there, it doesn't matter if you're one block out of the zone or on the other side of town.

-Angela
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#7 of 14 Old 08-21-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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Yes, like Alegna said you would get preference if you lived inside the attendance zone but remember if it's a Vanguard (G/T) your child may be in the "nieghborhood" room and have little interaction with the other class(es) if s/he doesn't qualify as "gifted" per test scores.

You asked about magnet programs though and I do believe magnet schools offer the same program for all so living in the zone should do the trick. If you feel strongly about a certain school check with that principal to make sure...

On an unsolicited note, I have seen schools change radically (for better or worse) in less than two years after a principal or strong admin leaves. Some programs/schools have maintained their reputation for years and probably has a lot to do with the community (Roberts or River Oaks come to mind) but other schools have more variability in scores or community opinion.

What schools are you considering?
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#8 of 14 Old 08-21-2008, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by txbikegrrl View Post
Yes, like Alegna said you would get preference if you lived inside the attendance zone but remember if it's a Vanguard (G/T) your child may be in the "nieghborhood" room and have little interaction with the other class(es) if s/he doesn't qualify as "gifted" per test scores.

You asked about magnet programs though and I do believe magnet schools offer the same program for all so living in the zone should do the trick. If you feel strongly about a certain school check with that principal to make sure...

On an unsolicited note, I have seen schools change radically (for better or worse) in less than two years after a principal or strong admin leaves. Some programs/schools have maintained their reputation for years and probably has a lot to do with the community (Roberts or River Oaks come to mind) but other schools have more variability in scores or community opinion.

What schools are you considering?
I'm considering either dual language immersion with Spanish or just a foreign language school that has at least Spanish. I was thinking about Helms, Kolter, Wharton, and I know there are more, but those are the names I hear most often. I haven't done much research yet as my son is only 9 months but I plan to attend the open house for the magnet schools in November and do a lot more research soon. Do you know anything about those schools or any of the other dual immersion/foreign language magnets?

I'm just trying to get a general idea of how this whole process works. If I have to move to the neighborhood to get my child into the school I want, then that would be great to know as I will be moving in the next year or so, long before he actually starts school. Of course, that is given that I want to live in the area near the school.. I don't know anything about the specific neighborhoods these schools are in.
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#9 of 14 Old 08-21-2008, 05:34 PM
 
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Helms is in the Heights. I know several families whose kids go there because it is in my old neighborhood. Great neighborhood and lots of involved families in the duel language program. They have visitation days throughout the year. That's about all I know You should go visit the during the Open Houses to get a better idea of all the schools/neighborhoods. Oh, and Helms also hosts a Mommy and Me Spanish class for infants/toddlers that a lot of people like. Anyone can go to that.

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#10 of 14 Old 08-21-2008, 07:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by txbikegrrl View Post
You asked about magnet programs though and I do believe magnet schools offer the same program for all so living in the zone should do the trick. If you feel strongly about a certain school check with that principal to make sure...
Not always- depends on the magnet.

-Angela
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#11 of 14 Old 08-21-2008, 08:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jdavidian View Post
I'm considering either dual language immersion with Spanish or just a foreign language school that has at least Spanish. I was thinking about Helms, Kolter, Wharton, and I know there are more, but those are the names I hear most often. I haven't done much research yet as my son is only 9 months but I plan to attend the open house for the magnet schools in November and do a lot more research soon. Do you know anything about those schools or any of the other dual immersion/foreign language magnets?
Helms is heights. Kolter is Meyerland. Wharton... I don't know- not familiar with them.

Most dual language aren't really dual language IME. Foreign language magnets tend to have around an hour of watered-down language a day IME. fwiw I student-taught at kolter and as I recall, their magnet is an extra class at the end of the day- so to do that your child stays at school an hour longer.

-Angela
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#12 of 14 Old 08-22-2008, 02:59 PM
 
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Helms is a true dual-language program with instruction in both languages. They "tailor" the classes so students' whose primary/first language is Spanish (English) have more English (Spanish) instruction. I'm not sure how they handle the truly bilingual kids. Magnet students have to pass TAKS/Aprenda so show competence in math as well as reading in both languages.

I've heard good things about the Helms program so I rec it to a friend of mine and her daughter was accepted into the Pre-K 4yo program. I'll know more about the realities in a year if you want to check back then! FYI it wasn't difficult to get accepted at that age. I think K is another story.

IMHO, if you are buying a house it's a huge commitment to try and figure out what school would be best for your LO this far in advance. Then what if you have more than one? For example, I'd like my son to go to Helms also but if he is anything like his father then Harvard (math and science magnet with more traditional curriculum) will be a better fit. If he takes after some of our relatives a music or art magnet may be best. In the end we selected a house we really like and will hope for the best with getting a "choice" transfer or lottery spot or maybe even test for Vanguard a.k.a. for River Oaks.

I've heard Wharton (in the Montrose area) is a true dual language also but I haven't checked it out (yet) to know for sure...

FWIW I've heard great things about Roberts in the med center and Travis in the middle of the Heights. Friends looking for "diversity" meaning a good mix of African-American as well as Hispanic and Anglo students have selected Garden Oaks or Oak Forest.
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#13 of 14 Old 08-23-2008, 02:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I definitely will not use the location of the school as my sole criteria for choosing a house. It would just help to have an idea of where I would like him to go and at least take it into consideration. Who knows, it might be the tie breaker between two houses. I was already looking at the Heights anyway before I found out about the schools there, so that is just an added bonus.

You are right txbikegrrl - I might decide another magnet school is right for him. I'm just checking out all the options. I will take a look around at the Open House this fall and I'm definitely going to enroll in that mommy and me class at Helms when my son turns a year old.

Thanks for all the advice!

Jill
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#14 of 14 Old 01-27-2014, 08:08 PM
 
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Angela,

i need you advice about magnet programs. Please e-mail me irena011@aol.com

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