GATE Magnet & Magnet-AAP Program


    What is Magnet?

    The Magnet program is a GATE program offered at four Middle School sites – Clayton, Herz, Sky Ranch and Swope. Students may enter Magnet as incoming sixth or seventh grade students, although there are more openings when entering sixth grade. Magnet is accelerated and enriched in the four core academic content areas. Core classes in Magnet contain only gifted learners who have been accepted into the Magnet program. Teachers in the four core content areas are all GT endorsed. The curriculum is specific to Magnet and goes beyond typical MS standards expected. Therefore, successful Magnet students typically enter High School one year ahead in science, two years ahead in mathematics and already writing and researching at the HS level.

    Outside of the core classes, Magnet is a typical middle school experience, with opportunities for a variety of electives and participation in various clubs and teams. Your child will be a full-fledged member of the Magnet site school, simply participating in an advanced curriculum as part of the Magnet program. 

    What is Magnet-AAP?

    The Magnet-AAP program is a GATE program offered only at Clayton Middle School. This Magnet-AAP site operates exactly the same as other Magnet sites. The only difference is that the Magnet-AAP program is also open to Accelerated Advanced Placement (AAP) students. These are students that, even though not identified as gifted, have shown their high achievement in schooling. Students eligible for this program are individually invited to the program. 

    Do we have to be zoned for a Magnet site to participate?

    No, however, your student does need to be enrolled in the WCSD. For students accepted into the Magnet program, we will work with the Magnet site registrars to obtain a variance to attend your Magnet site. Please continue to stay enrolled in the WCSD at your zoned school, and we will take care of the rest.

    Will transportation be provided?

    The Magnet program does not provide transportation. If a Magnet student lives within a zone for transportation to a Magnet site, that student is welcome to ride the bus.

    Who can apply?

    All GATE identified 5th and 6th grade students should receive an invitation to apply during the second half of each Fall semester. The application will be online via the WCSD- GATE Program Application page.

    Any current 5th or 6th grade student who is eligible for GATE services/GATE identified in the WCSD may apply for the following school year.

    What is the biggest challenge?

    The Magnet program offers a heavily enriched curriculum in ELA and Social Studies and an accelerated and enriched curriculum in Math and Science, and students should expect to find challenges in all four core content areas.

    Will there be homework?

    Yes, as with any middle school course of study, homework will be part of the program. We highly discourage and disdain busywork or homework just for the sake of homework, yet the Magnet program offers a challenging and full curriculum that will require some work outside of class. Students should expect, at minimum, some reading and math skills practice most days. Classwork left unfinished in class will typically default to homework as well.

    Are the expectations high for Magnet students?

    Yes, as Magnet is an invitation only program of choice, expectations include that students attend school regularly with non-disruptive classroom behavior and maintain passing grades, generally at a "B" average or better.

    Which Magnet sites are open?

    Applications for all four sites are open during the initial application window. The application allows applicants to select the site of first and second choice. We are typically able to place students at the site of first choice. Magnet is only offered at the middle school level, grades 6-8. 

    The transition from ES to MS is a big transition for all students. Some of the changes students face in middle school are an earlier daily schedule, departmentalized instruction and a new and larger peer cohort. As well, there is the change from being the oldest students at the school to the younger or youngest students at the school. New MS students often report concerns about lockers (normal year) and changing out for PE (normal year). On the bright side, there is an opportunity for school athletics (normal year), and a generally far less restrictive environment during passing periods, lunch and recess. Magnet students are as likely as any other group to experience stress associated with these changes. Our teachers are empathetic to these transitional challenges, yet will move forward quite rapidly with instruction by, at latest, the second week of school.

    When will we find out about our application?

    The GATE department will notify all families who submit an application during the application window within a reasonable period of time. For those submitting applications outside of the application window, we will attempt to follow up with families on a monthly basis. At that time, successful applicants will have the opportunity to commit to attending the Magnet program at the site offered in the invitation for the following year. If a successful applicant chooses not to commit to attending the program, GATE will not hold a placement for that student.

    How does the Magnet program support student athletes and performers?

    The Magnet program is proud to work with our student-athletes for success in their multiple endeavors, and in support of a balanced approach to development. We have dancers, gymnasts, martial artists, team sport participants, ski racers, musicians and others, many of whom train or compete 15-20 hours per week in season or when preparing for a performance or competition. It is not uncommon for our student-athletes to miss school for a performance or competition. Our policy is to work with student-athletes, being flexible to help these students either complete work ahead of time, or make up work efficiently. It is not always possible to work ahead, depending upon the pacing of the class and student time available. However, this is preferable. We do not typically excuse work. In some cases, teachers may excuse certain assignments if there is an issue with the volume of work due, or if certain assignments overlap. The most crucial step is to communicate in advance with the teaching team. The general expectations of the Magnet program include an attendance rate of 90% or better.