Converting a traditional elementary school into an international studies magnet school: teacher and parent perspectives of change





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This study analyzed the first year of implementation of an elementary school international studies magnet program. The program included the addition of instruction in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. This whole-school magnet was created using existing staff in what had previously been a traditional elementary school. The magnet had a neighborhood attendance area and then created openings for new students through a randomized lottery. The majority of the school's population continued to be neighborhood students who had attended previous to the conversion and voluntarily chose to remain at the school. The purpose of the study was to ask the primary stakeholder groups of parents and teachers to describe their views of the school's first year as a magnet school, and then analyze their views using the school change research authored by Michael Fullan. This was primarily a qualitative study using case study methodology, but it also included the use of a survey. Both stakeholder groups revealed a high level of satisfaction with the magnet school. Parent respondents voiced approval of the school's new focus, and appeared especially satisfied with the world language program. This parent group included parents who had been at the school previous to the magnet conversion, and parents who were new to the school through the magnet lottery. The teacher stakeholder group also reported satisfaction but expressed concerns about sustainability of the magnet program and the additional burden of writing and developing magnet-related curriculum.

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