University at Albany
 

Magnet Schools Assistance Program Evaluation

As part of the federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), the U.S. Department of Education awarded the City School District of Albany a competitive $7.5 million grant.

MSAP is designed to accomplish the following goals:

  • Reduce minority isolation in Albany High School programs
  • Develop and implement magnet programs in smaller learning communities that will assist Albany High School in achieving systemic reform and will provide all students with the opportunity to meet the New York State Learning Standards
  • Ensure that all Albany High School students have equitable access to high quality educational programs that will enable them to succeed academically and continue with postsecondary education or productive employment
  • Improve the district’s capacity to continue successfully operating magnet schools after federal funding ends through professional development of the school and district personnel

In order to reach these goals, the district will divide the existing comprehensive Albany High School into four smaller magnet schools (or smaller learning communities):

  • Citizenship Academy (Exploring a Global Perspective)
  • Discovery Academy (Exploring our Personal/Creative World)
  • Innovation Academy (Exploring the Physical World)
  • Leadership Academy (Exploring the Strengths Within Each of Us)

Each of these schools will:

  • Have a distinct theme or focus that will help establish a sense of community
  • Enroll 400-600 students in grades 9-12
  • Provide ongoing professional development to design and implement innovative educational practices
  • Offer a rigorous academic program encouraging every student to take at least one advanced course (AP/IB/ECHS) before graduating
  • Offer academic enrichment and social-emotional enrichment opportunities
  • Establish substantial and meaningful relationships with families, business leaders, and community members

Evaluation & Research

CHSR designed and will implement the Magnet Schools Assistance Program evaluation protocol. The overarching goal of the evaluation is to provide comprehensive information on program activities and outcomes. This will be achieved by obtaining multiple perspectives (students, families, staff, and community) through multiple data collection methods (qualitative and quantitative). The evaluation protocol includes methods that focus on program implementation and process, as well as outcomes.

Proposed indicators and data sources for the MSAP evaluation are based on four principal project goals:

  • Prevent minority isolation and promote desegregation in each smaller learning community
  • Improve academic achievement for all students
  • Foster social-emotional growth and support for all students and their families
  • Improve professional capacity of teachers and administrators

Program Development

CHSR assisted with the preparation of the successful application following an extensive planning process. At the Superintendent's request, Dr. Kenneth Robin, Senior Research Scientist and SSW Assistant Research Professor, served on the Albany High School Restructuring Committee. Representatives from local colleges and universities, teachers and administrators from the City School District of Albany, parents, students, and other community agencies worked together to design the proposed magnet academies.

Contact: Dr. Kenneth Robin