East Baton Rouge Magnet Schools: Challenging, innovative courses and real-world experiences

The Creative Sciences and Arts Magnet at Belaire High provides a rigorous academic curriculum with innovative areas of study driven by the booming science and arts industry in Baton Rouge while elementary students at Park Forest engage in learning the basic functions of robots, including construction, maintenance and how to code programmable behaviors.

These programs illustrate the diverse and challenging curriculum experienced by students enrolled in East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s magnet schools. Nearly 10,000 students are enrolled in the system’s 28 magnet programs. Of these, 11 schools are completely dedicated magnet schools, while 14 magnet programs are located within a standard school’s campus. There are nine elementary magnet programs, 11 for middle school students and eight at the high school level, each offering innovative and thematic programs.

AT A GLANCE

PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Magnet school programs for elementary, middle and high school students in East Baton Rouge Parish

TOP EXECUTIVES: Adam Smith, Associate Superintendent; Theresa Porter, Director of Magnet Programs; Ni’Shawn Stovall, Magnet Recruiter

Phone: 225.922.5443
Website: ebrmagnet.org

Attendance zones do not apply for magnet schools, so students can attend any magnet school across the district. Free transportation is provided to any of the schools for students living in the district. In addition to meeting an individual program’s eligibility requirements, parents or guardians must complete an online application in which they indicate which program they want their child to attend. Then seats in the various programs are selected through a lottery.

“Most parents choose the popular, dedicated programs, so these programs are often over-subscribed,” says Ni’Shawn Stovall, EBR’s magnet recruiter. “They are also usually rated as an A or B school.”

However, a letter grade represents an entire school, which can be misleading for the 14 magnet programs that exist within a broader school. For these, the letter grade specific to the magnet program typically is higher. As a result, open seats exist in some of the most innovative, accelerated and challenging magnet schools. For the 2020-21 academic year, EBR Magnet Schools received 7,690 applications. However, Stovall notes that applications are not spread evenly across all 25 schools. Instead, 12 of the schools are considered undersubscribed, receiving fewer applications than available seats in the programs.

For example, Forest Heights Academy of Excellence is a dedicated visual and performing arts and academic magnet school, serving kindergarten through fifth grade. In this nationally recognized program, students receive rigorous, personalized instruction, including at least five hours per week of arts taught by certified professional teaching artists in state-of-the-art studio classrooms. Dance, theatre, visual art, choral music, and instrumental music classes integrate core curriculum concepts using a variety of learning styles.

At Scotlandville Magnet High’s Center of Excellence for Government Affairs, students interested in pre-law, the legal system, criminal investigation and forensics have an opportunity to experience partnerships with local law enforcement, attorneys, judges, legislators and other members of government-related professions. In addition to taking specialized courses, students participate in mock trials in Scotlandville’s courtroom, the only modern courtroom in the school system, complete with a judge’s bench, jury box and deliberation room.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s partnership with Baton Rouge Community College and IBM, helps students enrolled in the Early College High School magnet program at Tara High to acquire professional and technical skills, experience and credentials necessary for “new collar” careers. As early as 10th grade, students are concurrently enrolled in college and traditional high school courses and can graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in computer science: software development. Graduates are eligible for priority interviewing with IBM for an application development programmer specialist position.

Ultimately, Stovall says, EBR’s magnet schools provide a range of programs to suit students’ interests.

“Students in magnet programs benefit from a tuition-free education,” she says. “They engage in an innovative curriculum and are exposed to real-life and real-world experiences in the areas in which they are interested.”