|A magnet cluster school is a specialised neighbourhood school – it has a neighbourhood attendance boundary and accepts students who live within that boundary. Magnet cluster schools also focus their curriculum on one of four subject areas: fine and performing arts, world language, International Baccalaureate Primary or Middle Years, or technology. Students who live outside of the neighbourhood attendance boundary must submit an application in order to be considered for acceptance. A student may apply to any school in any cluster. Transportation is not provided to incoming students. |
The Magnet Cluster Initiative was started in 1999 as part of an effort to improve the quality of the magnet programs at neighbourhood elementary schools in Chicago. The first step in addressing these issues was to increase accountability for the existing magnet programs. This was accomplished through reducing the number of program focus areas from 28 to 6. Additionally, a team of administrators for each area of focus was established, allowing for direct, intensive support for each school in its area of focus. Finally, schools were teamed together in neighbourhood clusters to heighten communication between schools.
Today the Magnet Cluster Initiative consists of more than 100 schools focusing on one of four academic areas of focus: fine and performing arts, the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, technology or world language. With the goal of accelerating student achievement, schools collaborate with other schools in the cluster, as well as with other schools citywide in the same magnet program area of focus, to exchange ideas and work on strengthening each school’s individual curriculum.
The Magnet Cluster Initiative also supports professional development, community, and business partnerships, high school collaboration, and evaluation of participating schools. These activities help to reinforce the program’s primary goals of improving student achievement and increasing confidence in the schools by parents, students, and community residents.