Education Matters Report: What's behind Caddo's magnet school success

Education Matters Report: What's behind Caddo's magnet school success

The Caddo Parish School System has a long list of challenges-- including a number of low performing campuses.
The Caddo Parish School System has a long list of challenges-- including a number of low performing campuses. The district is also home to some of the top ranked schools in the country and local parents are fighting to get their kids in those schools.

When plans for the future of Caddo schools were discussed earlier this year the need for an additional magnet school was mentioned.

While there are numerous schools in Caddo with the magnet title one principal says it's all about what takes place inside the classroom.

Caddo Middle Magnet's principal says there are three keys to success for a magnet program. He says capable students, outstanding faculty members and involved parents.  Keith Burton says there's low teacher turnover at Caddo Middle Magnet and a long history of high performance.

“When a parent brings a child on this campus there is an expectation."

Laura Drake Sabbath has two children in magnet schools. She has her own opinion on why the schools work.

"With magnet they're supported. The staff support the problem and the parents.  I mean they're on it."

Laura's oldest daughter attends Caddo Magnet High. Her youngest child is a student at Herndon Magnet, which is more than 30 minutes away from her house in Shreveport.

"As you can see my home is directly surrounded by three junior high schools, five elementary schools and my kids are in magnet."

She says she was left with no other option.

"I have one child in Herndon Magnet and that's in Belcher and I live right around the corner from an elementary school and it's failing."

Every morning Laura drops her daughters off at the bus stop and in the afternoon she along with dozens of other parents picks up their children near the fair grounds.

Laura says her daughter at Magnet High is exposed to college prep courses. However what she likes the most is it's free.

Getting into Middle Magnet is highly competitive. Only half of the students who applied this school year were admitted, while Magnet High admitted 91% of applicants.

The admissions process is the same at all magnet elementary schools. 60% of seats are filled based on admission test results. The other 40% of seats are filled based on students who meet admissions and socio economic requirements.

Burton says, “I think magnets simply offer the community another choice to encourage diversity and an accelerated curriculum."

When it comes to enrollment numbers in 2012 Caddo Middle Magnet had 1,315 students.  Last year Youree Drive Middle Advanced Placement Magnet had 1,142 students enrolled at the school.  While the rest of Caddo's 6th-8th grade campuses average 680 students.

Burton stressed there are wonderful neighborhood schools in Caddo Parish and magnets are simply another option for parents.


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