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Audit of Baltimore County Magnet Schools

In November 2013, Metis Associates completed a six-month audit of the Baltimore County Public Schools Magnet Program. With the audit, the district was seeking a comprehensive examination of the magnet program to ensure equity of access for all students and to promote up-to-date, high-quality programs aligned to the district’s instructional agenda, “Blueprint 2.0: Our Way Forward.”

Baltimore County currently offers more than 100 such programs in 28 schools, including 6 elementary, 7 middle, and 15 high schools. (In some large high schools, there are multiple magnet programs.)

The audit was designed to examine a variety of factors. It assessed the effectiveness of the system’s central administration, which markets the magnet programs, provides staffing and budgets for them, and manages the application process. It also looked at equity of student access to the magnet programs in terms of admissions criteria as well as transportation and geography. Finally, the audit explored the effectiveness of magnet-program implementation, which included an assessment of the level of interest in these programs on the part of students and families and the sufficiency of staffing and resources. Read Metis's full report here.

The audit incorporated a mixed-method approach including a review of program documentation; input from stakeholders such as the district magnet team, staff, and principals; and analysis of school- and student-level data. A significant component of the audit involved the collection of information through 11 community forums and an online community survey open to the general public so that a range of voices and opinions about the magnet programs were taken into account.

Metis supported the development of and subsequently served as the external evaluator for Baltimore’s federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant from 2003 to 2007. That grant was used to create four middle- and high-school magnet programs that were included in the audit.