HISD Magnet & Vanguard Programs for 2019-2020 School Year: Overview of the Programs, What You Need to Know & How and When to Apply!

It is NOW time to apply for NEXT school year!

I’ve applied for HoustonISD Magnet Schools (and Vanguard Magnet Schools), 4 times in the last 8 years.  The first time around, I found it very overwhelming… but over the years, I’ve (mostly) figured it out.

In case you are also overwhelmed and confused by the HoustonISD application process, here is a summary of the process, key dates and changes for this year.

For the official information on applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools, go HERE.  And be sure to look at this FAQ page.

(Also, last year there were budget cuts and the magnet school program was under review.  Since then, the bus system has changed some… but it looks like the application process is the same for next year.  If you have any other updates, let us know!)

Key dates for the 2019-2020 School Year:

  • School Choice Fairs (Optional, but very informative)
    • Sept. 29: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Sterling High School
    • Oct. 20: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Washington High School
    • Nov. 10: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Westbury High School
    • Dec. 1: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Milby High School
  • School Choice Thursdays (Optional, but very informative)
    • Thursdays from October 4 through December 6 at all magnet schools.
    • October ( 4, 11, 18, 25), November (1, 8, 15, 29), and December 6.
    • These tours are intended to help parents learn more about Magnet programs to make more informed decisions.
    • Now that Elementary tours are not intended for students.  Middle School and High School tours are for parents and students.
    • Find more details HERE.
  • September 28, 2018 – Applications are open
  • December 7, 2018 – Deadline for Phase I (first round) Magnet applications.
  • December 8, 2018 –  Start of Phase II application window. (Note that the most popular Magnet Schools will fill in Phase 1.  If you are trying to get into one of these schools, you really need to apply for Phase 1 by December 7.  For an idea of the most popular schools, look at this HISD list.)
  • For Kindergarten Vanguard Magnet Programs (Askew, Carrillo, De Zavala, Herod, Oak Forest, River Oaks, Roosevelt, T.H. Rogers, Travis, Windsor Village), you will need to select a test date when you submit your application:
    • (Dates to be added)
  • March 21 2019 – Notification Date
    • The official Phase I notification of a students’ lottery outcome will be viewable within the online application dashboard.
  • April 4, 2019 – Deadline for accepting your seat.
    • Documentation (recent proof of residency and a signed Magnet entrance agreement) must be turned in.
    • Students will remain on the waitlist of all programs which parents ranked higher than the highest program to which a seat is offered.

 

RECENT Changes in the Magnet Application Process & Answers to FAQs:

In case you have not applied in a few years, some things have changed.  We had to start ranking our school choices (and not just apply to 10 schools and pick a favorite after we were accepted).  Also the number of total applications is 5 instead of 10.

  • There are new bus hubs for magnet schools this year.  Besides that, the process looks the same as last year.
  • You can apply online or with paper… but with just one method.  You use the same application for all 5 school choices.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.  There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide.
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource from last year… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Parents can ONLY apply to 5 magnet programs.  This is for magnet programs and Vanguard magnet programs.  The G/T test dates are in January and February, so I would not make these all Vanguard schools because if the child does not qualify, they will not be entered into any lotteries.
  • Parents need to rank applications in priority order.  Parents will be able to adjust the order of their choices through the December deadline.
  • In March, when HISD contacts parents of the outcome of the applications, all applications ranked below the top choice will be dropped automatically. Any programs you are wait listed that rank above the highest accepted choice, remain active.
  • Applications for students who live outside the HISD boundaries may be submitted any time after September 28, 2018 but they will not be considered until June.  (See the FAQ for details.)
  • Students must be in attendance on day one of school. Magnet seats are not saved if there are zoned students to fill the spaces.
  • In the 2019-2020 application, this is a new note:Due to large number of applications in Phase I, the following schools will not be accepting any applications after the Phase I deadline of December 7, 2018.Harvard Elementary, Herod Elementary, Kolter Elementary, Lovett Elementary, Oak Forest Elementary, River Oaks Elementary, T.H. Rogers, Travis Elementary, Wilson Montessori, Lanier Middle School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School, Carnegie High School, DeBakey High School, Heights High School, and Lamar High School.
  • New this year: Pre-K Enrollment address exception transfers will not be renewed for students who will be five years of age on or before September 1, 2019. Therefore, any students offered a seat at a magnet campus for prekindergarten grade levels must reapply for a magnet seat to remain at the magnet campus for their kindergarten school year.

So, for entering school in August 2019, you will apply to schools from September 28, 2018-December 7, 2018.  It will look something like this:

  • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2019-2020 school year by December 7.  These include both Vanguard and Magnet Programs.
  • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
  • In January/February, IF you applied to Vanguard schools, your child will take the G/T test.
  • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
  • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • In April, you must accept your spot at Wharton or you will lose it.  If a spot opened up at River Oaks, you could still accept it.

 

What you need to know about HoustonISD:

ZONED SCHOOL

The school that you are zoned to is your neighborhood school and the one that your child will be automatically accepted into (as long as it is not too full). If you don’t already know which school you are zoned to, go to THIS website, type in your address, and choose the grade level your child will be in for the school year.

If you are happy with your neighborhood school and want your child to go there, you don’t need to worry about the magnet application process*.  (One note is that a few HoustonISD neighborhood schools are over full.  Call your zoned school to see if there is any issue at all with attending your local neighborhood school.)  Contact the school to find out what you need to do to enroll your child and when to do it.

(*One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.)

 

MAGNET FOCUS

If you would like the opportunity for your child to attend a school you are not zoned to, you will have apply for a magnet transfer. THIS  is the part of HISD’s website about the magnet programs.

Each magnet school has a specialized theme that is incorporated into their classes and curriculum. For example, a fine arts magnet school may offer more exposure to music, dance, art and drama than other schools would.

 

APPLICATIONS

You can submit up to 5 magnet school applications, of which 5 can be for Vanguard schools.  Know that magnet schools can be very hard to get in to, so apply to several!  Also, children must quality for Vanguard programs.  In case they do not do well on the test, make sure you have selected some non-Vanguard magnet programs when you apply.

Apply online or print an application HERE.

 

VANGUARD

The Vanguard Magnet schools are different than the other Magnet programs. Vanguard is HISD’s term for G/T or gifted and talented. Students must pass a test in order to be accepted as a transfer student at these schools.

You can apply to up to 5 Vanguard schools and must rank your top choices.  When you apply, you will be directed to contact your zoned school for GT testing.

From the HISD website 9/2018:

The Houston Independent School District has one G/T testing window. Therefore, only those students who are already identified as gifted and talented in HISD may apply for a space available placement at Vanguard Magnet campuses after December 7. If you have any questions, please email the Advanced Academics Team at advancedacademics@houstonisd.org.

Also from the HISD website 9/28:

Please contact the G/T Coordinator at your child’s current HISD school or HISD zoned campus to request testing. The deadline to request G/T testing at your child’s current HISD school or HISD zoned campus is December 8, 2018. Requests for G/T testing received after December 8, 2018 will not be accommodated.

We did the Vanguard test several years ago and this is what we found… tell me if you have a more recent experience!  On test day, parents and children signed in then were directed to a large waiting area. Then students were called out on their own or in small groups while parents waited for them.

Your child probably won’t be called out immediately, so you may want to bring snacks and something quiet for them to do.

Once the students left the waiting area they met individually in a room with the person administering the test. When they finished they were brought back to the room then the parents and students could leave.

If a student passes the test, then he or she is entered into the lottery at the Vanguard schools already chosen on the application. If the student does not pass the test, he or she will not be considered for transfer to a Vanguard school. Children who pass the test but aren’t accepted into one of the Vanguard schools can still be in the Vanguard program at the school they end up attending (if that school has a program).

I always get asked for resources to help prepare kids and parents for testing.  Here is what has been recommended by other parents over the years… but review each to see what is best for you.  And do NOT feel like you MUST prepare. (affiliates)

ABC Mouse (You can get a free month HERE.)
Lollipop Logic
Wiz Kidz
Kindergarten Test Prep Bundle for ITBS

{One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.}

 

LOTTERY

Once the deadline for turning in applications has passed, the schools hold a lottery where they draw the names of the students they’ll accept. Any students who applied but were not chosen are placed on a waiting list in the order their names were drawn.

Many of the schools that you’ll be applying to will probably have long wait lists and you are not guaranteed to be accepted as a transfer student into any of the schools that you’ve applied to. I was waitlisted at around number 320 for one of them, in the 200s for another and actually got in to 1.

So, if you really don’t want your child to attend your zoned school you should to turn in applications to more schools to increase your chance of acceptance.

Status notifications (whether you’ve been accepted or your number on the waitlist) are online and sent through the mail in late March.

If you are on a waitlist you can monitor the changes online through the parent dashboard.

If you are accepted you have until early April to inform the school of your “intent to attend.”

Your place on any higher ranked waitlists will remain the same though, so if you receive a spot at your second choice school, but are waitlisted at your first, accepting the second choice will not affect your chances of getting into your first choice.

 

SIBLINGS

Those of you who have, or who plan to have, additional children may be wondering if you’ll have to go through this whole process again. The answer is yes, but special consideration is currently given to siblings in the lottery.

As of now, up to the 25% of the incoming Kinder (or PreK, if it is a magnet PreK) class is guaranteed to siblings of currently enrolled students. (Same for 6th and 9th entry grades.)  If the number of siblings applying is more than 25% of the entering class, all sibling names are placed in a lottery and those spaces are awarded according to the order the names are drawn.

Any remaining siblings are placed in the general lottery, and if their names still aren’t drawn, they are placed at the beginning of the wait list. So, chances are that if your older child gets a spot at the school you want, your younger one(s) should too… but no guarantee… especially at very popular schools!

For Vanguard schools the younger child(ren) will have to pass the Vanguard test, but as long as they do the above will hold true for them as well.

If two siblings apply for an entry grade‐level program (and do not have another sibling in the program already) they are treated the same as any other applicant. However, if one is offered a place, the other is moved up the wait list, and placed among the other siblings. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

For twins (and all multiples), you can have them treated like all other siblings or opt to have all the children receive one lottery spot.  All will be offered a seat or all placed on
the wait list. If they are on a wait list, they will not be offered seats until there is room for all of them. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

 

MAGNET SCHOOL PRE-K

For elementary magnet programs, the “entry” grade is usually Kindergarten.  For Magnet dual language, Magnet language immersion, and Montessori Magnet programs, the “entry” grade is Pre‐K.

In the application, you can see which schools have PreK magnet programs.

Note that some schools have PreK programs that are NOT magnet programs.  Contact the school for details on applying.

New for this year, Pre-K Enrollment address exception transfers will not be renewed for students who will be five years of age on or before September 1, 2019. Therefore, any students offered a seat at a magnet campus for prekindergarten grade levels must reapply for a magnet seat to remain at the magnet campus for their kindergarten school year.

I reached out to a dual language magnet coordinator and this is what I learned: “This will not affect Pre-Kindergarten students currently enrolled. It will however affect Pre-K students in 2019-2020 school year.”.  So even if you get a Pre-K Magnet spot, you need to reapply for a Kinder Magnet spot the next year.


What to Expect: Applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools for the NEXT 2019-2020 Year

HoustonISD will be accepting 2019-2020 Magnet Applications on September 28, 2018… so if you want to send your kids NEXT year, you need to apply THIS fall!

To get you ready for the process, here are the key points that you need to know.

  • Find the comprehensive “what you need to know” post HERE.
  • Last year there were budget cuts and the magnet school program was under review.  Since then, the bus system has changed some… but it looks like the application process is the same for next year.  (If you have any other updates, let us know!)
  • The 2019–2020 HISD magnet application will be available online or through a paper application on September 28, 2018.  They are accepted until December 7, 2018… and families hear back in March 2019.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.
  • There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide: These are October ( 4, 11, 18, 25), November (1, 8, 15, 29), and December 6. Tour any HISD school on the following School Choice Thursdays. Arrive at 9 a.m. for elementary and K-8 schools, and at 1 p.m. for secondary schools: Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29*; Dec. 6*.  (*All schools will offer 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. tours on these two dates.)
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Chances are, you will not get into many of the schools you apply to.  THIS is why I said it’s okay (after 5 years of being heartbroken by my favorite school).
  • The process and the programs and generally (mostly) the same each year.  Read THIS for an overview of zoned schools, vanguard schools, magnets schools and the process.
  • This is what will happen starting September 28, 2018:
    • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2019-2020 school year.
    • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
    • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
    • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • The official HoustonISD resources can be found HERE.

For parents that are brand new to HoustonISD, look HERE to learn about zoned schools and your options within the school district.

If you have tips or questions, let us know.  And remember that this is meant to be helpful because I found the process very confusing 8 years ago… and have since been through it 4 times.  This is not the official HoustonISD Magnet resource… that can be found HERE!


HISD Magnet & Vanguard Programs for 2018-2019 School Year: Overview of the Programs, What You Need to Know & How and When to Apply!

It’s time to apply for NEXT school year!

I’ve applied for HoustonISD Magnet Schools (and Vanguard Magnet Schools), 3 times in the last 7 years.  The first time around, I found it very confusing and overwhelming… but over the years, I’ve (mostly) figured it out (and decided to worry a lot less!).

In case you are also overwhelmed and confused by the HoustonISD application process, here is a summary of the process, key dates and changes for this year.

For the official information on applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools, go HERE.  (And be sure to look at this FAQ page.  it is very very informative!)

Key dates for the 2018-2019 School Year:

  • School Choice Fairs (Optional, but very informative)
    • September 30, 2017: 9:00am-12:00pm at Milby High School
    • October 14, 2017: 9:00am-12:00pm at Westbury High School
    • November 4, 2017: 9:00am-12:00pm at Sterling High School
    • December 2, 2017: 9:00am-12:00pm. at Key Middle School
  • School Choice Thursdays (Optional, but very informative)
    • Thursdays from October 5 through December 7.
    • October 5, 12, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, 30 and December 7, 2017
    • All Magnet Campuses will offer tours to interested parents.
    • These tours are intended to help parents learn more about Magnet programs to make more informed decisions.
  • September 22, 2017 – Applications are open
  • December 8, 2017 – Deadline for Phase I (first round) Magnet applications.
  • December 9, 2017 –  Start of Phase II application window. (Note that the most popular Magnet Schools will fill in Phase 1.  If you are trying to get into one of these schools, you really need to apply for Phase 1 by December 8.  For an idea of the most popular schools, look at this HISD list.)
  • For Kindergarten Vanguard Magnet Programs (Askew, Carrillo, De Zavala, Herod, Oak Forest, River Oaks, Roosevelt, T.H. Rogers, Travis, Windsor Village), you will need to select a test date when you submit your application:
    • (Dates to be added)
  • March 22, 2018 – Notification Date
    • The official Phase I notification of a students’ lottery outcome will be viewable within the online application dashboard.
  • April 5, 2018 – Deadline for accepting your seat.
    • Documentation (recent proof of residency and a signed Magnet entrance agreement) must be turned in.
    • Students will remain on the waitlist of all programs which parents ranked higher than the highest program to which a seat is offered.

 

RECENT Changes in the Magnet Application Process & Answers to FAQs:

In case you have not applied in a few years, some things have changed.  We had to start ranking our school choices (and not just apply to 10 schools and pick a favorite after we were accepted).  Also the number of total applications is 5 instead of 10.

  • You can apply online or with paper… but with just one method.  You use the same application for all 5 school choices.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.  There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide.
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource from last year… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Parents can ONLY apply to 5 magnet programs.  This is for magnet programs and Vanguard magnet programs.  The G/T test dates are in January and February, so I would not make these all Vanguard schools because if the child does not qualify, they will not be entered into any lotteries.
  • Parents need to rank applications in priority order.  Parents will be able to adjust the order of their choices through the December deadline.
  • In March, when HISD contacts parents of the outcome of the applications, all applications ranked below the top choice will be dropped automatically. Any programs you are wait listed that rank above the highest accepted choice, remain active.
  • Applications for students who live outside the HISD boundaries may be submitted any time after September 22, 2017 but they will not be considered until June 1, 2018.  (See the FAQ for details.)
  • Students must be in attendance on day one of school. Magnet seats are not saved if there are zoned students to fill the spaces.

So, for entering school in August 2018, you will apply to schools from September 22, 2017-December 8, 2017.  It will look something like this:

  • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2018-2019 school year by December 8.  These include both Vanguard and Magnet Programs.
  • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
  • In January/February, IF you applied to Vanguard schools, your child will take the G/T test.
  • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
  • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • In April, you must accept your spot at Wharton or you will lose it.  If a spot opened up at River Oaks, you could still accept it.

 

What you need to know about HoustonISD:

ZONED SCHOOL

The school that you are zoned to is your neighborhood school and the one that your child will be automatically accepted into (as long as it is not too full). If you don’t already know which school you are zoned to, go to THIS website, type in your address, and choose the grade level your child will be in for the school year.

If you are happy with your neighborhood school and want your child to go there, you don’t need to worry about the magnet application process*.  (One note is that a few HoustonISD neighborhood schools are over full.  Call your zoned school to see if there is any issue at all with attending your local neighborhood school.)  Contact the school to find out what you need to do to enroll your child and when to do it.

(*One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.)

 

MAGNET FOCUS

If you would like the opportunity for your child to attend a school you are not zoned to, you will have apply for a magnet transfer. THIS  is the part of HISD’s website about the magnet programs.

Each magnet school has a specialized theme that is incorporated into their classes and curriculum. For example, a fine arts magnet school may offer more exposure to music, dance, art and drama than other schools would.

 

APPLICATIONS

You can submit up to 5 magnet school applications, of which 5 can be for Vanguard schools.  Know that magnet schools can be very hard to get in to, so apply to several!  Also, children must quality for Vanguard programs.  In case they do not do well on the test, make sure you have selected some non-Vanguard magnet programs when you apply.

Apply online or print an application HERE.

 

VANGUARD

The Vanguard Magnet schools are different than the other Magnet programs. Vanguard is HISD’s term for G/T or gifted and talented. Students must pass a test in order to be accepted as a transfer student at these schools.

You can apply to up to 5 Vanguard schools and must rank your top choices.  When you apply, you will select a test date for your child:

  • Dates to be added.

We did the Vanguard test several years ago and this is what we found… tell me if you have a more recent experience!  On test day, parents and children signed in then were directed to a large waiting area. Then students were called out on their own or in small groups while parents waited for them.

Your child probably won’t be called out immediately, so you may want to bring snacks and something quiet for them to do.

Once the students left the waiting area they met individually in a room with the person administering the test. When they finished they were brought back to the room then the parents and students could leave.

If a student passes the test, then he or she is entered into the lottery at the Vanguard schools already chosen on the application. If the student does not pass the test, he or she will not be considered for transfer to a Vanguard school. Children who pass the test but aren’t accepted into one of the Vanguard schools can still be in the Vanguard program at the school they end up attending (if that school has a program).

I always get asked for resources to help prepare kids and parents for testing.  Here is what has been recommended by other parents over the years… but review each to see what is best for you.  And do NOT feel like you MUST prepare.

ABC Mouse
Lollipop Logic
Wiz Kidz
Kindergarten Test Prep Bundle for ITBS

{One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.}

 

LOTTERY

Once the deadline for turning in applications has passed, the schools hold a lottery where they draw the names of the students they’ll accept. Any students who applied but were not chosen are placed on a waiting list in the order their names were drawn.

Many of the schools that you’ll be applying to will probably have long wait lists and you are not guaranteed to be accepted as a transfer student into any of the schools that you’ve applied to. I was waitlisted at around number 320 for one of them, in the 200s for another and actually got in to 1.

So, if you really don’t want your child to attend your zoned school you should to turn in applications to more schools to increase your chance of acceptance.

Status notifications (whether you’ve been accepted or your number on the waitlist) are online and sent through the mail in late March.

If you are on a waitlist you can monitor the changes online through the parent dashboard.

If you are accepted you have until early April to inform the school of your “intent to attend.”

Your place on any higher ranked waitlists will remain the same though, so if you receive a spot at your second choice school, but are waitlisted at your first, accepting the second choice will not affect your chances of getting into your first choice.

 

SIBLINGS

Those of you who have, or who plan to have, additional children may be wondering if you’ll have to go through this whole process again. The answer is yes, but special consideration is currently given to siblings in the lottery.

As of now, up to the 25% of the incoming Kinder (or PreK, if it is a magnet PreK) class is guaranteed to siblings of currently enrolled students. (Same for 6th and 9th entry grades.)  If the number of siblings applying is more than 25% of the entering class, all sibling names are placed in a lottery and those spaces are awarded according to the order the names are drawn.

Any remaining siblings are placed in the general lottery, and if their names still aren’t drawn, they are placed at the beginning of the wait list. So, chances are that if your older child gets a spot at the school you want, your younger one(s) should too… but no guarantee… especially at very popular schools!

For Vanguard schools the younger child(ren) will have to pass the Vanguard test, but as long as they do the above will hold true for them as well.

If two siblings apply for an entry grade‐level program (and do not have another sibling in the program already) they are treated the same as any other applicant. However, if one is offered a place, the other is moved up the wait list, and placed among the other siblings. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

For twins (and all multiples), you can have them treated like all other siblings or opt to have all the children receive one lottery spot.  All will be offered a seat or all placed on
the wait list. If they are on a wait list, they will not be offered seats until there is room for all of them. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

 

MAGNET SCHOOL PRE-K

For elementary magnet programs, the “entry” grade is usually Kindergarten.  For Magnet dual language, Magnet language immersion, and Montessori Magnet programs, the “entry” grade is Pre‐K.

In the application, you can see which schools have PreK magnet programs.

Note that some schools have PreK programs that are NOT magnet programs.  Contact the school for details on applying.


What to Expect: Applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools for the NEXT 2018-2019 Year

HoustonISD will be accepting 2018-2019 Magnet Applications on September 22th, 2017… so if you want to send your kids NEXT year, you need to apply THIS fall!

To get you ready for the process, here are the key points that you need to know.

  • Find the comprehensive “what you need to know” post HERE.
  • The 2018–2019 HISD magnet application will be available online or through a paper application on September 22, 2017.  They are accepted until December 8, 2017… and families hear back by March 22, 2018. (Of course, Harvey could change these dates!)
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.  There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide: These are October 5, 12, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, 30, and December 7.  All Magnet Campuses will offer tours to interested parents.
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource from last year… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Chances are, you will not get into many of the schools you apply to.  THIS is why I said it’s okay (after 5 years of being heartbroken by my favorite school).
  • The process and the programs and generally (mostly) the same each year.  Read THIS for an overview of zoned schools, vanguard schools, magnets schools and the process.
  • Most likely, this is what will happen starting September 22, 2017:
    • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2018-2019 school year.
    • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
    • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
    • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • The official HoustonISD resources can be found HERE.

For parents that are brand new to HoustonISD, look HERE to learn about zoned schools and your options within the school district.

If you have tips or questions, let us know.  And remember that this is meant to be helpful because I found the process very confusing 7 years ago… and have since been through it 3 times.  This is not the official HoustonISD Magnet resource… that can be found HERE!


HISD Magnet & Vanguard Programs for 2017-2018 School Year: Overview of the Programs, What You Need to Know & How and When to Apply!

UPDATE: Find the NEW 2018-2019 School Year Post HERE!

james-and-papa-at-school-lunch
Picture by Pranika!
It’s now time to apply for NEXT school year!

I’ve applied for HoustonISD Magnet Schools (and Vanguard Magnet Schools), 3 times in the last 6 years.  The first time around, I found it very confusing and overwhelming… but over the years, I’ve (mostly) figured it out (and decided to worry a lot less!).  In case you are also overwhelmed and confused by the HoustonISD application process, here is a summary of the process, key dates and changes for this year.

For the official information on applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools, go HERE.  (And be sure to look at this new FAQ page.  it is very very informative!)

Key dates for the 2017-2018 School Year:

  • School Choice Open Houses, for more information about Magnet programs. (Optional, but very informative.)
    • October 1, 2016 Chavez High School 9:00 – 12:00
    • October 22, 2016 Heights High School 9:00 – 12:00
    • November 5, 2016 Austin High School 9:00 – 12:00
    • December 3, 2016 Sterling High School 9:00 – 12:00
  • School Choice Thursdays (Optional, but very informative)
    • Every Thursday from October 6 through December 8.
    • All campuses will provide school tours.
    • For elementary and K‐8 schools, the tours will start at 9:00 AM.  Additional 1:00 PM tours on October 27th and November 17th.
  • September 30, 2016 – Applications are open
  • December 9, 2016 – Deadline for Phase I (first round) Magnet applications.
  • December 10, 2016 –  Start of Phase II application window. (Note that the most popular Magnet Schools will fill in Phase 1.  If you are trying to get into one of these schools, you really need to apply for Phase 1 by December 9.  For an idea of the most popular schools, look at this HISD list.)
  • For Kindergarten Vanguard Magnet Programs (Askew, Carrillo, DeZavala, Herod, Oak Forest, River Oaks, Roosevelt, T. H. Rogers, Travis, Windsor Village), you will need to select a test date when you submit your application:
    • January 7, 2017 at Herod Elementary School, 5627 Jason St., 77096
    • January 21, 2017 at Herod Elementary School, 5627 Jason St., 77096
    • January 28, 2017 at Carrillo Elementary School, 960 South Wayside, 77023
    • February 4, 2017 at Carrillo Elementary School, 960 South Wayside, 77023
  • March 23, 2017 – Notification Date
    • By 4 PM on March 23, 2017. The official Phase I notification of a students’ lottery outcome will be viewable within the online application dashboard.
  • April 6, 2017 – Deadline for accepting your seat.
    • Documentation (recent proof of residency and a signed Magnet entrance agreement) must be turned in.
    • Students will remain on the waitlist of all programs which parents ranked higher than the highest program to which a seat is offered.

 

RECENT Changes in the Magnet Application Process & Answers to FAQs:

In case you have not applied in a few years, some things have changed.  Last year we had to start ranking our school choices (and not just apply to 10 schools and pick a favorite after we were accepted).  This year, the number of total applications is 5 instead of 10.

  • You can apply online or with paper… but with just one method.  You use the same application for all 5 school choices.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.  There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide.
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Parents can ONLY apply to 5 magnet programs this year.  This is for magnet programs and Vanguard magnet programs.  The G/T test dates are in January and February, so I would not make these all Vanguard schools because if the child does not qualify, they will not be entered into any lotteries.
  • Parents need to rank applications in priority order.  Parents will be able to adjust the order of their choices through the December 9 deadline.
  • In March, when HISD contacts parents of the outcome of the applications, all applications ranked below the top choice will be dropped automatically. Any programs you are wait listed that rank above the highest accepted choice, remain active.
  • Applications for students who live outside the HISD boundaries may be submitted any time after September 30, 2016 but they will not be
    considered until June 1, 2017.
  • Students must be in attendance on day one of school. Magnet seats are not saved if there are zoned students to fill the spaces.

So, for entering school in August 2017, you will apply to schools from September 20, 2016-December 9, 2016.  It will look something like this:

  • You apply to up to 5 schools for the 2017-2018 school year by December 9.  These include both Vanguard and Magnet Programs.
  • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
  • In January/February, IF you applied to Vanguard schools, your child will take the G/T test.
  • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
  • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • In April, you must accept your spot at Wharton or you will lose it.  If a spot opened up at River Oaks, you could still accept it.

 

What you need to know about HoustonISD:

ZONED SCHOOL

The school that you are zoned to is your neighborhood school and the one that your child will be automatically accepted into (as long as it is not too full). If you don’t already know which school you are zoned to, go to THIS website, type in your address, and choose the grade level your child will be in for the 2015-2016 school year.

If you are happy with your neighborhood school and want your child to go there, you don’t need to worry about the magnet application process*.  (One note is that a few HoustonISD neighborhood schools are over full.  Call your zoned school to see if there is any issue at all with attending your local neighborhood school.)  Contact the school to find out what you need to do to enroll your child and when to do it.

(*One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.)

 

MAGNET FOCUS

If you would like the opportunity for your child to attend a school you are not zoned to, you will have apply for a magnet transfer. THIS  is the part of HISD’s website about the magnet programs.

Each magnet school has a specialized theme that is incorporated into their classes and curriculum. For example, a fine arts magnet school may offer more exposure to music, dance, art and drama than other schools would.

 

APPLICATIONS

You can submit up to 5 magnet school applications, of which 5 can be for Vanguard schools.  Know that magnet schools can be very hard to get in to, so apply to several!  Also, children must quality for Vanguard programs.  In case they do not do well on the test, make sure you have selected some non-Vanguard magnet programs when you apply.

Apply online or print an application HERE.

 

VANGUARD

The Vanguard Magnet schools are different than the other Magnet programs. >Vanguard is HISD’s term for G/T or gifted and talented. Students must pass a test in order to be accepted as a transfer student at these schools.

You can apply to up to 5 Vanguard schools and must rank your top choices.  When you apply, you will select a test date for your child:

  • January 7, 2017 at Herod Elementary School, 5627 Jason St., 77096
  • January 21, 2017 at Herod Elementary School, 5627 Jason St., 77096
  • January 28, 2017 at Carrillo Elementary School, 960 South Wayside, 77023
  • February 4, 2017 at Carrillo Elementary School, 960 South Wayside, 77023

We did the Vanguard test several years ago and this is what we found… tell me if you have a more recent experience!  On test day, parents and children signed in then were directed to a large waiting area. Then students were called out on their own or in small groups while parents waited for them.

Your child probably won’t be called out immediately, so you may want to bring snacks and something quiet for them to do.

Once the students left the waiting area they met individually in a room with the person administering the test. When they finished they were brought back to the room then the parents and students could leave.

If a student passes the test, then he or she is entered into the lottery at the Vanguard schools already chosen on the application. If the student does not pass the test, he or she will not be considered for transfer to a Vanguard school. Children who pass the test but aren’t accepted into one of the Vanguard schools can still be in the Vanguard program at the school they end up attending (if that school has a program).

I always get asked for resources to help prepare kids and parents for testing.  Here is what has been recommended by other parents over the years… but review each to see what is best for you:

Lollipop Logic
Wiz Kidz
Kindergarten Test Prep Bundle for ITBS

Also, for Vanguard Testing, TestingMom.com is a resource for any parent who wants to prepare their kids Houston Vanguard Magnet or Neighborhood programs, as well as gifted programs in the surrounding area such as Katy, Fort Bend, Spring Branch, Cy-Fair, Clear Creek, and more.

TestingMom is holding a workshop on October 16, 2016 to teach parents fun ways to prepare kids for these tests. Learn more and sign up affiliate HERE

 

{One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.}

 

LOTTERY

Once the deadline for turning in applications has passed, the schools hold a lottery where they draw the names of the students they’ll accept. Any students who applied but were not chosen are placed on a waiting list in the order their names were drawn.

Many of the schools that you’ll be applying to will probably have long wait lists and you are not guaranteed to be accepted as a transfer student into any of the schools that you’ve applied to. I was waitlisted at around number 320 for one of them, in the 200s for another and actually got in to 1!

So, if you really don’t want your child to attend your zoned school you should to turn in applications to more schools to increase your chance of acceptance.

Status notifications (whether you’ve been accepted or your number on the waitlist) are online and sent through the mail in late March.

If you are on a waitlist you can monitor the changes online through the parent dashboard.

If you are accepted you have until early April to inform the school of your “intent to attend.”

Your place on any waitlists will remain the same though, so if you receive a spot at your second choice school, but are waitlisted at your first, accepting the second choice will not affect your chances of getting into your first choice.

 

SIBLINGS

Those of you who have, or who plan to have, additional children may be wondering if you’ll have to go through this whole process again. The answer is yes, but special consideration is currently given to siblings in the lottery.

As of now, up to the 25% of the incoming Kinder (or PreK, if it is a magnet PreK) class is guaranteed to siblings of currently enrolled students. If the number of siblings applying is more than 25% of the entering class, all sibling names are placed in a lottery and those spaces are awarded according to the order the names are drawn.

Any remaining siblings are placed in the general lottery, and if their names still aren’t drawn, they are placed at the beginning of the wait list. So, chances are that if your older child gets a spot at the school you want, your younger one(s) should too… but no guarantee… especially at very popular schools!

For Vanguard schools the younger child(ren) will have to pass the Vanguard test, but as long as they do the above will hold true for them as well.

If two siblings apply for an entry grade‐level program (and do not have another sibling in the program already) they are treated the same as any other applicant. However, if one is offered a place, the other is moved up the wait list, and placed among the other siblings. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

For twins (and all multiples), you can have them treated like all other siblings or opt to have all the children receive one lottery spot.  All will be offered a seat or all placed on
the wait list. If they are on a wait list, they will not be offered seats until there is room for all of them. (Each sibling must have a separate application on file.)

 

MAGNET SCHOOL PRE-K

For elementary magnet programs, the “entry” grade is usually Kindergarten.  For Magnet dual language, Magnet language immersion, and Montessori Magnet programs, the “entry” grade is Pre‐K.

In the application, you can see which schools have PreK magnet programs.

Note that some schools have PreK programs that are NOT magnet programs.  Contact the school for details on applying.


Summer & September Birthdays: Start School or Wait a Year for Kindergarten?

In Texas, in order to attend kindergarten, kids must be 5 years old by September 1.  So, if you were born on September 1, you can go to kindergarten… but if you were born September 2, you have to wait a full year.

With my oldest kids being summer babies, I found it hard to take that my next child would have to wait a full year to enter school, just because he was born in mid-September.

Mias Birthday Cookie
I knew full well that some kids do better by waiting a year for school… but the issue was… I really don’t being told what to do.  If the baby was born on September 1, I could pick… but on September 2, I was forced to wait a year.

So, when I realized I would likely hit my due date, I did my best to convince my doctor to induce me early.  He politely told me I was crazy, that the baby was not ready and that my insurance would not cover it.  So, then I decided to try all the old-wives-tricks for inducing labor a week early… and from the stomach cramps and no baby, I was reminded that I was indeed going crazy.  But not one to give up, once the baby was born, on his due date, I examined the birth certificate to see if I could maybe just delete one number to make it look like September 1 was the birthday… and can tell you that that thing is watermarked.

When all my efforts failed, I just decided to wait a few years and try a better plan.  Maybe start in private school, maybe test into an older grade or maybe sneak him in to kinder.  (Kidding on the last one.  Mostly.)

Flash forward nearly 5 years, and I no longer care.  In fact, I think him being born in September, and staying home was a gift.  It was just over a year ago that I left my engineering job… and during this year, my son and I spent time together that was better than any preschool program I could have selected.

More than this, my youngest is not his brother or sister.  He is happy-go-lucky and is going to be just fine as the oldest in the class.

So if you have a baby with a late-summer birthday or an early-fall birthday, maybe these thoughts can help you decide what to do for kindergarten:

  • Kids born on September 2 (or later) do have some options.  In our HoustonISD prek class, we had a classmate that was older and was ahead of his piers.  His parents were given the option of having him tested and skipping a grade.  So… it is possible.  I’ve also heard of people starting in private school and then transferring to public school after a few years.
  • Some summer babies do just fine in their “assigned” class.  My oldest has a July birthday and he is a very serious guy (and always has been).  He’s been on the top of the “chart” for behavior and academic performance from the start.
  • Being the oldest in the class can be a very good thing.  I mean, wouldn’t it be a great confidence booster to fully understand the teacher and know how to interact with your friends from day one?  I think it’s explained in the book, affiliate Outliers, that the older kids are often more successful in the long run.
  • No matter which way you go, don’t think that you are screwing up your kid for life.  Whether you wait for kindergarten or start early, you can adjust as you see the results.  You do not have to stick to your decision forever.  See how school goes, talk with the teachers and make changes.  And when they grow up, I don’t think anyone is going to care if they graduated college when they were 21 or 22 or 23.

So if you are struggling right now with the September birthday cutoff, consider that you do have more options than you might think… and not just today.  You have options now, options next year and beyond.  And sometimes the September 1 cutoff is a blessing (like it was for me).  And you have stories of how this worked for you… tell us!


What to Expect: Applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools for the NEXT 2017-2018 Year

School Buses
HoustonISD will be accepting 2017-2018 Magnet Applications on September 30th, 2016… so if you want to send your kids NEXT year, you need to apply THIS fall!

Once the applications go live, we will create a comprehensive “what you need to know” post, like we did for 2016-2017. For an idea of what to expect, go HERE!  For “what you need to know” or 2017-2018, go HERE!

To get you ready for the process, here are the key points that you need to know.

  • The 2017–2018 HISD magnet application will be available online or through a paper application on September 30, 2016.  They are usually accepted until around Winter Break (update: December 9, 2016)… and families hear back around Spring Break.
  • It only takes 10 minutes to complete… but deciding on which schools to apply to can take longer.  There are a lot of open houses and school tours that help you decide.
  • Your favorite school is likely the favorite school of hundreds of other families.  To see the popularity of the HISD programs, go HERE.  (This is a very cool resource… and lets you know what to expect.)
  • Chances are, you will not get into many of the schools you apply to.  THIS is why I say it’s okay (after 5 years of being heartbroken by my favorite school).
  • The process and the programs and generally (mostly) the same each year.  Read THIS for an overview of zoned schools, vanguard schools, magnets schools and the process.
  • Most likely, this is what will happen starting September 30, 2016:
    • You apply to up to 10 5 schools for the 2017-2018 school year.
    • You will rank you favorite schools… for example: #1 River Oaks Vanguard, #2 Wharton Dual Language, #3 Poe Fine Arts, #4 Wilson Montessori…
    • In March, you will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
    • If you got a spot at #2 Wharton, you would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe and #4 Wilson…
  • Find some very useful parent and teacher comments over on the Facebook post HERE.
  • The official HoustonISD resources can be found HERE.
  • For Vanguard Testing, TestingMom.com is a resource for any parent who wants to prepare their kids Houston Vanguard Magnet or Neighborhood programs, as well as gifted programs in the surrounding area such as Katy, Fort Bend, Spring Branch, Cy-Fair, Clear Creek, and more.
  • TestingMom is holding a workshop on October 16, 2016 to teach parents fun ways to prepare kids for these tests. Learn more and sign up affiliate HERE

For parents that are brand new to HoustonISD, look HERE to learn about zoned schools and your options within the school district.

If you have tips or questions, let us know.  And remember that this is meant to be helpful because I found the process very confusing 6 years ago… and have since been through it 3 times.  This is not the official HoustonISD Magnet resource… that can be found HERE!


For those who have their hearts broken by the HoustonISD Magnet School lottery…

JoeBackPack530
Today is the day… months after applying for HoustonISD Magnet Schools, we will find out if our kids got in to any of our chosen schools.

Some of us will be very very lucky… and many of us will probably be heartbroken tonight.

Five years ago I applied to HoustonISD magnet schools for the first time… and River Oaks Elementary broke my new-to-elementary-school-mom heart.  I so wanted my son to get a spot in the Vanguard Program… and we were approximately 5,000th on the waiting list.  (Or maybe we were 124th, which is the same as 5,000th.)

I was sad my son would not get a chance to go to my top choice school.  And I was a little angry.

My preschooler had gone through the testing, had passed the Vanguard test… and was now being denied the education I was so certain he should get.

I was the mom watching the wait list numbers, desperately looking for other Vanguard programs and searching for an apartment to rent inside the River Oaks school district.  And, with time, I got distracted by life and chose another HoustonISD school.

I have a feeling that tonight and next week and next month, there will be a lot of parents doing the same thing.  So in case you have your heart broken today… and in case this is reassuring to you…  let me tell you something as a mom that has now applied for 3 kids to attend HoustonISD magnet schools…

  1. My first choice school is no longer my first choice school.
  2. I do not care much about the gifted and talented program anymore.

My new definition of a perfect school looks something like this:

  1.  Kind and Caring Staff.  When you walk in, do they say hello, greet the kids and make their eyes sparkle?
  2. Small Class Sizes, Good Teachers… and a Teacher’s Aide.  How amazing would it be to have teachers that could give more attention to your child (and not just misbehaving children)… and an extra set of hands to help with the area that challenges your kid?
  3. A Campus that Feels Safe.  Do you feel comfortable leaving your kids?
  4. Challenging Academics… but Age Appropriate.  I do not think kindergarten should have homework.  And maybe not the next few grades either.  I know there is disagreement… and I see it at our current school (and not ROE Vanguard program!).  For me, I’d rather take my kids to the park or let them design Lego cities than spend the evening doing worksheets, or worse, gathering supplies for another diorama.
  5. One Drop Off Location.  This you won’t know when you apply for your oldest child… but for younger children, is there a good chance they will get a spot as well?  (HISD only guarantees a small number of spots for siblings.)  Once your 2nd or 3rd kid gets to school… is there a place where they will all get a spot?
  6. Good Middle School Options.  I am shocked how fast we have gone from Kinder to 3rd grade… and it’s practically time for middle school.  Some Houston schools are Kinder through 8th grade… which is amazing.  And if yours is not… is there a good plan for middle school and, *gasp*, high school?
  7. After School Care.  If you need care until 5:00pm or 6:00pm… is there a good program on the same campus?
  8. Easy Pick Up and Drop Off.  This is an added bonus… but if you are going to do pick up and drop off daily, for 180 days a year, for 6+ years… it would be nice if it did not make you want to scream each time.  (Magnet schools do have buses, but it will probably not come to your house… but to a nearby HISD school.)

And there are probably more bullet points that have nothing to do with a certain school program, like the Vanguard magnet program… help me fill them in with your comments!

So… what I’m saying is not to refuse your spot to ROE or some of HoustonISDs most popular magnet programs… because they are great programs… but know that for these schools, more kids are wait-listed than get a spot.  And maybe it’s okay if you do not get a spot… and instead stumble upon the school that makes your kid’s eyes sparkle each morning.

 


HISD Magnet & Vanguard Programs for 2016-2017 School Year: Overview of the Programs, What You Need to Know & How and When to Apply!

Update: For 2018-19 Magnet Applications, go HERE!

Back to School
Update: For 2017-2018 Magnet Applications, go HERE for an overview of the new process! 

It’s time to apply for NEXT school year!  For official information on applying to HoustonISD Magnet Schools, go HERE.  If you want a mom to summarize the process, based on my experiences, look below for key dates, changes for this year and what you need to know about HISD schools!

Key dates for 2015 (for 2016-2017 School Year):

  • October 1 – For the 2016-2017 school year, the HISD magnet application will be available online or on paper.
  • December 18 – Magnet application deadline.
  • March 24 – Parents will learn the outcome of their children’s applications.

For the details on phase 2 and 3 of the application process, go HERE.

 Important Changes in the Magnet Application Process:

  • For the 2016-2017 school year, the application system is the same but the way they are being processed has change.
  • Parents can still apply to up to 10 Magnet programs (and 5 of these may be Vanguard schools).
  • New this year, parents will need to rank applications in priority order.  Parents will be able to adjust the order of their choices through the December 18 deadline.
  • In March, when HISD contacts parents of the outcome of the applications, all applications ranked below the top choice will be dropped automatically. Any programs you are wait listed that rank above the highest accepted choice, remain active.
  • For an example, go HERE.
  • This change should reduce the number of students who remain on wait lists waiting for others to keep or drop their spots.

In short, you need to decide your favorite schools when you apply.  In the past, you could just apply to 10 schools and decide your favorite in March when you were accepted to (maybe multiple or maybe no) schools.

For this school year, I will apply on October 1… but I believe this process will look like this:

  1. By December 18, I will apply to up to 10 schools (and 5 can be Vanguard).
  2. I will need to rank my favorite schools: #1 River Oaks, #2 Roberts, #3 Poe, #4 Wilson, #5 Garden Oaks…
  3. In March, I will learn which schools have accepted our application (through the lottery).
  4. If we got a spot at #2 Roberts, we would stay on the waitlist for #1 River Oaks, but be dropped from the waitlists from #3 Poe, #4 Wilson and #5 Garden Oaks.

 

What you need to know about HoustonISD:

ZONED SCHOOL

The school that you are zoned to is your neighborhood school and the one that your child will be automatically accepted into (as long as it is not too full). If you don’t already know which school you are zoned to, go to THIS website, type in your address, and choose the grade level your child will be in for the 2015-2016 school year.

If you are happy with your neighborhood school and want your child to go there, you don’t need to worry about the magnet application process*.  (One note is that a few HoustonISD neighborhood schools are over full.  Call your zoned school to see if there is any issue at all with attending your local neighborhood school.)  Contact the school to find out what you need to do to enroll your child and when to do it.

(*One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.)

 

MAGNET FOCUS

If, however, you would like the opportunity for your child to attend a school you are not zoned to, you will have apply for a magnet transfer. THIS  is the part of HISD’s website about the magnet programs.

Each magnet school has a specialized theme that is incorporated into their classes and curriculum. For example, a fine arts magnet school may offer more exposure to music, dance, art and drama than other schools would.

 

APPLICATIONS

You can submit up to 10 magnet school applications, of which 5 can be for Vanguard schools.  Know that magnet schools can be very hard to get in to, so apply to several!

Apply online or print an application HERE.

 

VANGUARD

The Vanguard Magnet schools are different than the other Magnet programs. Vanguard is HISD’s term for G/T or gifted and talented. Students must pass a test in order to be accepted as a transfer student at these schools.

You can apply to up to 5 Vanguard schools and must rank your top choices.  When you apply, you will select a test date for your child.

We did the Vanguard test several years ago and this is what we found… tell me if you have a more recent experience!  On test day, parents and children signed in then were directed to a large waiting area. Then students were called out on their own or in small groups while parents waited for them.

Your child probably won’t be called out immediately, so you may want to bring snacks and something quiet for them to do.

Once the students left the waiting area they met individually in a room with the person administering the test. When they finished they were brought back to the room then the parents and students could leave.  For some very very very unofficial tips on testing, go HERE.

If a student passes the test, then he or she is entered into the lottery at the Vanguard schools already chosen on the application. If the student does not pass the test, he or she will not be considered for transfer to a Vanguard school. Children who pass the test but aren’t accepted into one of the Vanguard schools can still be in the Vanguard program at the school they end up attending (if that school has a program).

I always get asked for resources to help prepare kids and parents for testing.  Here is what has been recommended by other parents over the years… but review each to see what is best for you:

Lollipop Logic
Wiz Kidz
Kindergarten Test Prep Bundle for ITBS

If you have books you recommend, please let us know!

{One more note on zoned schools and Vanguard Programs:  If you are going to your zoned school and it’s not a Vanguard Magnet School (like Roberts, Poe, etc), your kids will be tested at school for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program. If you are going to your zoned school and it’s a Vanguard Magnet (like ROE, Travis, etc), the official word from HISD is: “In October, when the online application system opens, go ahead and apply to ROE, even if you are zoned. You will be provided details about testing.” You can also contact your zoned school to get all the details.}

 

LOTTERY

Once the deadline for turning in applications has passed, each school holds a lottery where they draw the names of the students they’ll accept. Any students who applied but were not chosen are placed on a waiting list in the order their names were drawn.

Many of the schools that you’ll be applying to will probably have long wait lists and you are not guaranteed to be accepted as a transfer student into any of the schools that you’ve applied to. I was waitlisted at around number 320 for one of them, in the 200s for another and actually got in to 1!

So, if you really don’t want your child to attend your zoned school you should to turn in applications to more schools to increase your chance of acceptance.

Status notifications (whether you’ve been accepted or your number on the waitlist) are mailed out in late March.

If you are on a waitlist you won’t hear back from the school again unless enough spaces open up for your child to be accepted. You can call the school to find out updated waitlist numbers though.

If you are accepted you have until early April to inform the school of your “intent to attend.”

Your place on any waitlists should remain the same though, so if you receive a spot at your second choice school, but are waitlisted at your first, accepting the second choice shouldn’t affect your chances of getting into your first choice.

 

SIBLINGS

Those of you who have, or who plan to have, additional children may be wondering if you’ll have to go through this whole process again. The answer is yes, but special consideration is currently given to siblings in the lottery.

As of now, up to the 25% of the incoming Kinder class is guaranteed to siblings of currently enrolled students. If the number of siblings applying is more than 25% of the entering class, all sibling names are placed in a lottery and those spaces are awarded according to the order the names are drawn.

Any remaining siblings are placed in the general lottery, and if their names still aren’t drawn, they are placed at the beginning of the wait list. So, chances are that if your older child gets a spot at the school you want, your younger one(s) should too… but no guarantee… especially at very popular schools!

For Vanguard schools the younger child(ren) will have to pass the Vanguard test, but as long as they do the above should hold true for them as well.


HoustonISD “Name That Book” List for 2015-2016

Rows of Books at Houston Public Library
Use Summer Break to get ready for the 2015-2016 HoustonISD Name That Book contest!

AND, these books (and any others) can count towards the Houston Public Library Summer Reading Program… and great rewards!

Find these books with the BKSC Amazon links below, or at your Houston library!

K-2 Name That Book List
Bink and Gollie DiCamillo, Kate and McGhee, Alison
Dalia’s Wondrous Hair Lacámara, Laura
Dog Days of School DiPucchio, Kelly
Dog vs. Cat Gall, Chris
Don’t Spill the Milk! Davies, Stephen
Extraordinary Jane Harrison, Hannah E.
Feathers: Not Just for Flying Stewart, Melissa
Flight School Judge, Lita
Fortune Cookie Fortunes Lin, Grace
Found Yoon, Salina
Freddie Ramos Takes Off (Zapato Power) Jules, Jacqueline
The Girl and the Bicycle Pett, Mark
Goldilocks and the Three Bears Buehner, Caralyn
Hug Machine Campbell, Scott
It’s an Orange Aardvark! Hall, Michael
It’s Raining! Gibbons, Gail
Manana, Iguana Ann Whitford Paul
Maple Nichols, Lori
Maybelle in the Soup Speck, Katie
Meet the Parents Bently, Peter
Memoirs of a Hamster Scillian, Devin
Mouse Tales Lobel, Arnold
My Grandfather’s Coat Aylesworth, Jim
My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) Brown, Peter
The Princess in Black Hale,Shannon and Dean
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole Barnett, Mac
Shiver Me Timbers!: Pirate Poems & Paintings Florian, Douglas
The Talking Eggs San Souci, Robert D.
Water Can Be… Salas, Laura Purdie

3-6 Name That Book List
Always, Abigail Cavanaugh, Nancy J
Brown Girl Dreaming Woodson, Jacqueline
Deep and Dark and Dangerous Hahn, Mary Downing
El Deafo Bell, Cece
Emily’s Blue Period Daly, Cathleen
The Fourteenth Goldfish Holm, Jennifer L.
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor Scieszka, Jon
The Genius Files #4: From Texas with Love Gutman, Dan
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing Turnage, Sheila
Grandfather Gandhi Gandhi, Arun and Bethany Hegedus
The Great American Dust Bowl Brown, Don
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom Healy, Christopher
The Lost Planet Searles, Rachel
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Book One: Spelling Trouble Cammuso, Frank
Mountain Dog Engle, Margarita
The Night Gardener Auxier, Jonathan
The Phantom Tollbooth Juster, Norton
Quinny & Hopper Schanen, Adriana Brad
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus Bryant, Jen
Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents Singer, Marilyn
Saving Lucas Biggs de los Santos, Marisa and David Teague
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life Ehlert, Lois
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation Tonatiuh, Duncan
A Single Shard Park, Linda Sue
Sky Jumpers Eddleman, Peggy
A Snicker of Magic Lloyd, Natalie
The Vanishing Coin Egan, Kate and Lane, Mike
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop Hill, Laban Carrick
The Year of Billy Miller Henkes, Kevin
Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina Philbrick, Rodman