Magnet Program Audit for
Baltimore County Public Schools
Presentation of Key Findings and Recommendations
November 19, 2013
Marilyn Zlotnik, Vice President
Claire Aulicino, Senior Research Associate
Presentation Outline
• Overview of BCPS Magnet Program
• Audit Context
• Audit Design and Methods
• Key Findings
• Recommendations
Overview of BCPS Magnet Program
• 106 magnet programs serve approximately 12,800
– 6 elementary programs (approx. 2,500 students)
– 26 middle school programs in 7 schools (approx. 3,500 students)
– 74 high school programs in 15 schools (approx. 6,800 students)
• First programs were developed in 1993.
• Most recent programs additions were in 2003.
Audit Context
• Audit Timeline: May 1 through October 31, 2013.
• Metis Associates was selected to conduct the
• Metis Associates is a national research and
consulting firm in New York City with more
than 35 years of experience in evaluation,
information technology, and grant development.
Audit Design and Methods
Scope of Audit
• Equity of Access to Magnet Programs:
– Transportation and geographic placement of programs
– Admissions criteria and lottery process
– Continuity of programs (vertical articulation)
Scope of Audit
• Effectiveness of Program Implementation:
– Program/course offerings and implementation models
– Staffing, compensation, and professional development
– Budget allocation (school and central)
Scope of Audit
• Effectiveness of Centralized Administration:
– Central staffing
– Application and admissions process
(including priority placement options)
– Marketing and recruitment
Data Collection Methods
• Key data sources:
−Program documentation
−Stakeholder input and feedback:
 717 staff surveys and 809 community surveys
 district staff interviews
 11 community forums
−School and magnet program applicant and
enrollment data
Key Findings
Vision for Magnet Programs
• Strength: There is widespread agreement within the
BCPS community that magnet programs provide
valuable options for students and families.
• Area for Improvement: The vision for how the
magnet program is aligned with the district’s
instructional agenda is not uniformly known or
understood by stakeholders.
Magnet Program Offerings
Strength: BCPS offers an extensive menu of magnet
programs and themes across elementary, middle, and
high school levels.
Areas for Improvement:
• There have been very few revisions to the thematic
offerings over the past 20 years.
• There are not enough opportunities for students to
continue themes across school levels (or K-12
Program Implementation
Strength: There is consensus across levels that there is
strong support from school-based leaders for the magnet
Areas for Improvement:
• The scope of exposure to magnet curricula and
instruction varies significantly across schools and levels.
• There are disparities in the school- and district-based
support for programs in terms of staffing and budget.
Central Administration
and Oversight
Strengths: Office of Magnet Programs (OMP) effectively
manages the administrative aspects of the magnet program,
including implementing marketing strategies that are
effective in fostering community awareness of magnets.
Areas for Improvement:
• OMP does not have sufficient resources to support
monitoring of program implementation in each school.
• Outreach and recruitment materials may not be
accessible to all segments of the community.
Access to Magnet Programs
Strength: There is a high demand for magnet seats at all
educational levels.
Areas for Improvement:
• There is an uneven geographic distribution of elementary
magnet programs and insufficient number of seats to meet
the demand.
• A complete menu of highly demanded middle and high
school magnet themes and programs is not currently
offered in each geographic area.
• Many students are not eligible for transportation to magnet
schools and therefore may not be able to access magnet
Participation in Magnets
by Subgroups
Strength: More than 12,500 students (or 12% of the
district population) participate in magnet programs in
Areas for Improvement:
• There is an underrepresentation of students with
disabilities in magnet programs at all levels.
• Students who participate in magnet programs do not
fully reflect the demographics of the school district as a
Admissions Criteria
Strength: BCPS implements a systematic and fair random
lottery to select students who qualify for admissions to
magnet programs.
Area for Improvement: Access may not be equitable for
all students because there is no uniform set of criteria to
determine eligibility for admission to secondary magnet
programs, as measured by magnet assessments.
Create Magnet Task Force
 Create a Magnet Task Force with representation from
district and school leaders, teachers, and community
members to initiate a strategic planning process to:
• Develop a five-year plan for the BCPS magnet
program that is aligned with Blueprint 2.0.
• Define a clear vision for the role, definition, and
value of magnet programs at each academic level.
• Incorporate best practices for magnet programs
into the plan.
Charge to Magnet Task Force
1. Using the vision established for magnet programs in
BCPS, develop a proposal for a systemwide
portfolio of magnet program offerings that
• Themes that should be expanded, relocated or
• Opportunities for vertical pathways within each
of the three geographic areas of the county (east,
central, west).
Charge to Task Force (cont.)
2. Implement a systemwide review of magnet curricula
and master schedules to:
• Establish consistent instructional standards.
• Identify curriculum development needs and
opportunities for knowledge and sharing of best
practices for magnet instruction.
3. Develop staffing and funding recommendations to
support high-quality magnet programming.
Charge to Task Force (cont.)
4. Define the role for the OMP in administration and
oversight of magnet programs and determine
appropriate level of resources.
5. Conduct comprehensive review of magnet rules and
procedures and develop a plan to ensure consistent
application of rules across the system.
Charge to Task Force (cont.)
6. Make recommendations to increase equity of access
to elementary magnets including expanding,
relocating, or eliminating programs and/or
increasing number of seats for students without
priority placement options.
7. Develop recommendations for implementing highdemand middle school magnet programs in all areas
of the county and leveraging effective magnet
programs to support district’s ongoing efforts to
improve middle school options across BCPS.
Charge to Task Force (cont.)
8. Determine the appropriate placement and equal
distribution of high-demand high school magnet
programs in the east, west, and central areas of the
county, including defining the role of Career and
Technology Education (CTE) completer programs
in the district’s magnet or school choice portfolio.
9. Examine and propose revisions to the district’s
establishment of magnet transportation zones to
support greater access for all students to magnet
Charge to Task Force (cont.)
10. Identify a subcommittee of the Task Force to work
with OMP and Communications Office to develop new
marketing strategies to ensure greater access to magnet
program information for all community members.
11. Identify a subcommittee of the Task Force to examine
participation by students with disabilities in magnet
programs and work with the Office of Special Education
to encourage greater access to magnet programs.
Charge to Task Force (cont.)
12. Identify a subcommittee of the Task Force to work
with OMP to monitor participation of students by
subgroups to ensure equity of access for all students
by race/ethnicity, gender, family income, and
learning needs.
13. Identify a subcommittee of the Task Force to
examine the feasibility of developing a centralized
magnet assessment process and create standard
assessments for similar magnet programs.
Contact Information
Marilyn Zlotnik, Vice President
P: 212-425-8833 ext. 123
Email: [email protected]
Claire Aulicino, Senior Research Associate
P: 212-425-8833 ext. 125
Email: [email protected]

BCPS Magnet Audit Board Presentation