As you research types of schools in the U.S., you may hear about magnet schools from time to time. These are public schools, usually in larger cities, with a unique focus. They have a focused theme and aligned curricula in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Fine and Performing Arts, International Baccalaureate, International Studies, MicroSociety, Career and Technical Education (CTE), World Languages (immersion and non-immersion) and many others, according to Magnet Schools of America (

Magnet schools are different than traditional public schools in another important way as well. They teach students in ways that emphasize inquiry or project- or performance-based instruction. Their teaching approaches line up with state and national standards, but instruction is within the framework of the school’s focus.

There are typically no entrance requirements at magnet schools, and these schools focus their energies on teaching students who have the interests and talents that can benefit from education at magnet schools. Admission is often given through a computer lottery system. Some “gifted and talented” magnet schools use student test scores and recommendations of teachers and parents.

According to Magnet Schools of America, students from all backgrounds attend magnet schools. The only requirement to enter these schools, for the most part, is an interest in the school’s theme. Since the students at these schools are interested in that one theme, it makes for a learning environment that promotes higher-level thinking and social learning. Magnet schools usually have a strong sense of community, and the curriculum is clear so that families can take more part in their students’ educations. 

Magnet schools often have fewer discipline problems than more traditional public schools, and students often have higher academic and cultural competence. Attendance and graduation rates are also typically higher. Teachers often work at magnet schools longer than they do in traditional public schools, and the curricula are creative and engaging. Family and community involvement at magnet schools is usually high. Teachers are licensed in the subjects they teach, and they also complete specialized training based on the school’s theme. 

If your child has a particular talent or interest, consider visiting a local magnet school that caters to it. These types of schools are generally considered great places for children to learn and to hone their skills.

Author: Leyla Norman
Leyla is a certified English as a second language teacher as well as a certified PK-6 and 7-12 English teacher. She lives in Texas with her husband, and three children (The twins keep her the most busy!). She is also a freelance education writer, private English tutor, and student in a master's of Applied Linguistics -TESOL program..