• General Magnet FAQ

    Frequently Asked Questions for Magnet Enrollment

  • 1.) Q. Does it matter when I submit my child's magnet application?

          A. Parents sometimes think that because their child's application was submitted early in the application period, they are guaranteed acceptance. Magnet selection is based on an electronic lottery (audition process for Pittsburgh CAPA). All applications received by the lottery deadline (December 6, 2019 for applications for the '20-'21 school year) are entered in to the same electronic lottery. Only applications that are received after the lottery application deadline are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis, for students to be enrolled in to programs with remaining vacancies or to be added to existing waiting lists. 

    2.) Q. Should I select more than one magnet program on the application?

          A. You should only select program(s) that you are interested in your child attending. If you are only interested in one program, then you should only select that one program. If you are interested in more than one program, then you can select up to three in order of preference. Please do not list schools that you do not want your child to attend. There is no guarantee that they will be accepted to their 1st choice. 

    3.) Q. If my child is accepted to their 2nd or 3rd choice, can they remain on the waiting list for their 1st choice?

           A. No. Students cannot be both accepted to a magnet lottery program AND on a waiting list for another magnet lottery program. Students who are accepted to their 2nd or 3rd program choice via the lottery do not receive a waiting list number for their 1st or 2nd choice. In order to be added to a lottery program waiting list, you must first decline the lottery program acceptance.

    4.) Q. How does the weighted lottery work?

          A. It is an electronic lottery that randomly selects students. Each program offers different opportunities to receive additional weights toward the lottery. (i.e.; geography, attendance, currently attending a PPS schooo, family income, standardized test scores, etc.) Keep in mind that additional weights increase a student's likelihood of being accepted, but DO NOT GUARANTEE acceptance to a program. Availability varies by program and grade level, depending on the capacity set by each principal to accept new students. In the lottery, all students who qualify for preference (sibling prefernce for grades K-5 and program continuation preference by magnet theme) are considered ahead of all applicants who do not qualify for preference. Students are first considered for their 1st program choice. If they are not accepted to their 1st choice, and they have a 2nd choice listed, they are considered for their 2nd choice. If they are not accepted to their 2nd choice and they have a 3rd choice listed, they are considered for their 3rd choice. If a student is not accepted to any of their program selections, waiting list numbers are generated. Students are waitlisted randomly in order of program preference - applicants who listed the program as their 1st choice will be higher than applicants who listed the program as their 2nd choice.

    5.) Q. If my child has a sibling in the program to which we are applying, is acceptance guaranteed?

          A. Sibling preference only applies for K-5, and only to a student's first program choice. Sibling preference is also completely based on availability in a program. Historically, all lottery applicants from siblings to enter Kindergarten have been accepted. If the same scenario applies but you submit your application after the lottery and all spots have been filled, then your child will be added to the wait list. If you child is applying for a higher grade level (e.g. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th grades), it will be completely based on availability. Sibling preference applicants will appear on the waiting list ahead of applicants who do not qualify for preference, but will not be admitted via the lottery if no space is available.

    6.) Q. What is the chance of my child getting into a program at a specified wait list number?

          A. Parents often contact our office and ask the likelihood of their child's specific number being reached on the wait list. We are not able to guarantee acceptance of any wait list number, whether it is #1 or #20. Calls from the wait list are solely based on space becoming available in that particular program and grade level, based on families declining an acceptance or additional space becoming available due to student transfers or an increase in capacity. 

    7.) Q. How is transportation determined for magnet students?

          A. Yellow school bus transportation is guaranteed for elementary/middle school students that live more than 1 1/2 miles from the school. Transportation for high school students that live more than 2 miles from the school is determined by the Pittsburgh Public School's Transportation Department. Visit https://www.pghschools.org/transportation to learn more about the District's transportation eligibility criteria.

    8.) Q. My child was not eligible for acceptance into the Sci Tech 9-12, Allderdice Pre-engineering, Obama 9-12 IB, or the Brashear Teaching Magnet Program. What can I do to appeal this decision?

          A. The programs mentioned above require a minimum 2.5 Final GPA at the end of the most recent completed school year, and performance of at least Basic on the corresponding PSSA subject area (math for pre-engineering and Sci Tech; reading for IB and teaching). Note that Sci Tech eligibility is only based on PSSA, GPA is not considered for Sci Tech, however all applicants must submit two required essays. There is no appeal process because this is magnet policy. If your child's grades improve and you would like to be reconsidered, parents can submit the final GPA at the end of the current school year, or PSSA scores when received. If there is a wait list, the student will be added to the end of the wait list in the order in which we receive proof of eligibility. 

    9.) Q. Will my twins/triplets be accepted into a magnet program together?

          A. In grades K-8, twins and triplets are placed together. If one child is accepted, his/her multiple birth siblings will also be accepted. If the students are waitlisted, their waiting list numbers will be consecuitive and both children would be offered admission together. In grades 9-12, multiple birth applicants are considered individually.

    10.) Q. What is the process for an employee that applies for a magnet program with a tuition waiver?

             A. These applications are processed according to Board Policy #202 Eligibility of Nonresident Students, which states "District residents shall be given first priority for enrollment in District schools. However, students of nonresident staff members shall be given preference over nonresident tuition students. Tuition waiver students will continue not to be assigned to a specific magnet program until all resident applicants on the appropriate waiting lists have been placed in that specific magnet." Tuition waiver students are not eligible for sibling preference.