The rush is on: HISD magnet school applications now open for 2017-’18

By Charlotte Aguilar

The window to apply to 119 Houston ISD magnet programs opened today (Friday, Sept. 30) and will close Dec. 9.

Applications are available at, or in person at the magnet school of choice or the district’s Office of School Choice at the Hattie Mae White Education Center, 4400 W. 18th St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Each student may apply to five choices and rank them in order of preference in this first phase of the program. But with more than 60,000 applications for 2016-’17 slots and the most desired schools statistically considered more difficult to get into than Ivy League campuses, the pickings are slim in Phase Two.

Additional information on the Vanguard programs for gifted-and-talented students is available at If a student submits applications to five Vanguard programs and is not ultimately identified as gifted-and-talented, none of those applications will be considered.

In addition to the Vanguard programs popular with West U families at campuses such as River Oaks Elementary and Lanier Middle School, there are International Baccalaureate schools, such as Twain Elementary and Lamar High School, and magnets emphasizing arts, college and career readiness, dual language instruction, literature, Montessori, STEM and technology.

School Choice and magnets are both among HISD’s strongest lures and its most controversial topics. Magnet programs offer alternatives to private and charter schools, but critics say they weaken neighborhood school programs and that they’ve suffered from inequities in funding — problems that trustees and administration have tried to correct through a series of reforms in recent years.

Families may learn more about the options through open houses at the schools and  a series of School Choice Fairs.

School Choice Thursdays will be held at 9 a.m. for elementary and K-8 schools and at 1 p.m. for secondary schools on Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17; and Dec. 1 and 8. The School Choice Fair schedule is:



Oct. 1: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Chavez High School, 8501 Howard St.
Oct. 22: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Heights High School, 413 E. 13th St.
Nov. 5: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Austin High School, 1700 Dumble St.
Dec. 3: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Sterling High School, 11625 Martindale St.