Program Areas | P-12 Education

Magnet Schools Assistance Programs: Design and Evaluation

For more than 20 years, Metis Associates' program-development specialists have worked with urban and suburban school districts to develop magnet-school initiatives in support of court-ordered and voluntary desegregation plans and to obtain federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) funds to implement these plans. Securing more than $85 million for these clients, including several school districts in the New York City region and Baltimore County, Maryland, Metis has successfully collaborated with more than 100 elementary, middle, and high school teams to develop theme-based programs and innovative instructional models designed to address students' academic and career interests and parents' goals for a wider range of educational options for their children.

Metis helps to design magnet program plans that cover a wide array of innovative and research-based curricular and instructional models-from aquatic studies, to performing arts, to law and engineering. These plans incorporate extensive professional-development and parent engagement activities, community and cultural partnerships, and a wide range of enrichment opportunities for students. Moreover, Metis staff help craft outreach and recruitment strategies to attract new students and families to the magnet schools and assist in the design and implementation of student assignment plans that meet the stringent criteria of the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, including lottery systems for schools that are over-subscribed.

Metis also has a demonstrated track record assisting MSAP grantees to meet their evaluation and reporting needs. These evaluations, employing a wide variety of data-collection and analysis methods, provide feedback on the districts' success in meeting federal objectives and performance indicators associated with school desegregation, capacity building, and student achievement. During the past two federal funding cycles, Metis has worked with two New York City districts to implement a rigorous evaluation that uses a quasi-experimental design to examine the impact of magnet-program interventions on student achievement outcomes. Metis's magnet evaluation tools and methods are highlighted in a Web-based toolkit produced by the U.S. Department of Education (www.evaluationtoolkit.org), which is designed to help school districts assess the progress of their magnet initiatives.