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No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference
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Magnet Schools Assistance (V-C)


The Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) provides grants to establish and operate magnet schools in school districts that are under a court-ordered or federally approved voluntary desegregation plan to eliminate, reduce, or prevent minority group isolation in elementary and secondary schools. For nearly four decades, magnet schools have been an important element in American public education, offering innovative programs not generally available in local schools and providing opportunities for students to learn in racially diverse environments. A recent study of 1998 MSAP grantees found that the funding provided by MSAP enabled magnet projects to support planning and promotional activities related to their academic programs and services; add specially hired staff to support and enhance school instruction; and provide focused training in program areas or educational methods for teachers and other staff.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Focuses on What Works

  • Supports federal technical assistance and dissemination of successful programs. Expands national activities to include technical assistance and dissemination activities. Requires the U.S. Department of Education to collect and disseminate information on successful magnet school programs.
  • Builds a grantee's capacity to operate magnet school programs. Expands the uses of funds to include professional development in order to build capacity to operate magnet school programs after the grant period has ended.

Reduces Bureaucracy and Increases Flexibility

  • Provides more flexibility in administering magnet school programs. A district may use their grant to serve students who are not enrolled in the magnet program.
  • Increases flexibility in designing magnet schools. Enables grantees to have flexibility in designing magnet schools for students in all grades.
  • Allows more funds to be used for planning. Increases the cap on the amount of funds that may be used for planning, from 10 percent to 15 percent in a project's third year.

How It Works

The Magnet Schools Assistance Program is a discretionary grant program that awards funds to school districts (or consortia of districts) to support magnet schools that are part of an approved desegregation plan and that are designed to bring students from different social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds together. An applicant's desegregation plan may be either a required plan (for example, a plan required by a federal court) or a voluntary plan that has been adopted by the applicant and approved by the secretary of education as adequate under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Funding priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate the greatest need for assistance, propose to carry out new or significantly revised magnet school programs, and propose to select students to attend magnet school programs by methods such as a lottery, rather than through academic examination.

Key Requirements

Districts (or a consortium of local school districts) that receive an award must use it to reduce, eliminate, or prevent minority group isolation, increase student academic achievement, continue the magnet school program after assistance is no longer available, and implement services to improve the academic achievement of all students attending the magnet school program. Grantees also must undertake congressionally specified activities such as employing highly qualified teachers, encouraging greater parental decision-making and involvement, and providing equitable consideration for placement in the program.

How It Achieves Quality

In their application for program funds, applicants must ensure that they will employ highly qualified teachers, and carry out a high-quality education program that will encourage greater parental decision-making and involvement. Furthermore, program funds used to employ teachers and acquire books, materials, and equipment. Funds may be spent on supporting activities that are directly related to improving student academic achievement based on the state's challenging academic content standards and student achievement standards or activities that are directly related to improving student reading skills or knowledge of mathematics, science, history, geography, English, foreign languages, art, or music. Funds may be spent on activities to improve vocational, technological, and professional skills.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2007