In an attempt to move toward a more equitable system, the Clark County School District has decided to eliminate the GPA and behavioral requirements for admission into high school magnet programs.
“CCSD’s Magnet Schools offer students of various socioeconomic backgrounds, race and academic achievement levels, programs that allow them to discover their talents and abilities, while preparing them to be college and career ready upon graduating high school,” CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara said.
Previously, applicants had to fulfill several criteria in order to be eligible for any magnet school student lottery. Students who had a very low GPA, severe behavioral issues or high absentee rates were not considered for admission. The district had also eliminated preference to applicants with a sibling at the desired magnet school.
“I think that magnet schools are meant to have the smartest and most well-behaved kids,” sophomore Matthew Rosenbaum said. “If there are no requirements, then lower-quality students can ruin the environment for others.”
The policy change was to address the lack of racial diversity at magnet high schools. District officials argued that GPA and behavior requirements had disproportionately harmed Black and Hispanic applicants.
“The new policies will likely change the demographics of Southwest by increasing the number of minorities who attend our school,” Communications and Freshman Studies teacher Henry Castillo said. “The educational environment will likely mirror more of a comprehensive school, but it’s important to note that these requirements are not true for every program area at Southwest.”
Students will still have to fulfill criteria to be included in the lottery for STEM-based programs, like Engineering. In order to be eligible for the lottery, students in these programs must earn at least 16 out of a possible 26 credits in their first semester of eighth grade.
“One of the objectives for our Focus: 2024 plan is to increase magnet school enrollment and to expand opportunities for all student groups ensuring they represent the community we serve,” Jara said.