Evaluation of Magnet Schools Assistance Program

Evaluation, Learning Design, Methodology

While magnet school initiatives have garnered support across the country, many questions remain regarding student achievement within these programs in relation to “conventional” public schools. In the effort to answer these questions, CRESST has been engaged in evaluating the impact of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) on student achievement for the past eight years, along with our partners at American Education Solutions. This program provides funds to school districts “for up to five years to implement programming that supports the development and implementation of magnet schools that increase racial integration and promote academic opportunity and excellence.”(DoED)

To measure the impact of these schools, we use a statistically rigorous, high-quality, quasi-experimental design. Our MSAP evaluation work indicates significant variation in magnet school effects on student outcomes across schools, with some magnet schools showing positive effects and others showing negative effects. This variation can be explained by program implementation and support classroom teachers received from the magnet coach/resource teacher. Continued exploration of magnet school effects on student outcomes will be key to expanding on the successes of magnet schools, while mitigating its challenges. In their 2017 book chapter publication, Drs. Jia Wang and Joan Herman state:

Considering the prominent role magnet schools play in serving many poor, minority students, defining an effective magnet school model is of great importance in the creation and sustainability of high quality magnet schools that serve relatively higher concentrations of segregated racial minorities than regular public schools.

Recent CRESST publications based on this evaluation work include Drs. Jia Wang and Joan Herman’s article in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR) and their chapter on magnet schools in The Wiley Handbook of School Choice, a collection of the latest research findings on school choice.

Project Director(s):

Jia Wang