Houston offers a dizzying array of top-quality public education options. HISD, which serves the heart of the metropolitan area, includes more than 250 schools. Many of these offer specialized programs such as Vanguard or subject-area magnets.
Like any school district, HISD is a mixed bag, with some schools failing to meet expectations while others exceed them. But HISD’s top schools aren’t just the best in the district, they’re some of the best in the state and the nation. Five of the top 50 high schools in Texas are in HISD, and two of them, Carnegie Vanguard and the DeBakey High School for Health Professions, are ranked in the top 50 nationwide.
If you’re considering HISD as a possibility for your child, it can be hard to know where to start - there are so many options! But that’s where we come in. The Houston School Survey is happy to provide you with advice on every step of the application process, no matter which one of HISD’s great programs you’re interested in.
Overview of HISD Programs
Neighborhood Schools: These are schools which automatically admit all students of the appropriate grade level who live within the school’s zone. They fall into three categories:
For more information about registering at your neighborhood school, visit our guide here.
Magnet Schools: These are schools at which admission is based either partially or entirely on applications, which are not judged on the basis of merit but rather selected in a random drawing lottery. Magnet schools offer specialized programming of some kind, often geared towards a specific academic need or subject area. In some magnet schools, the specialized programming is schoolwide, and in others, it is implemented as a SWAS. Some magnets with schoolwide programming are designated as SUS, separate and unique schools, for education in a particular subject area or career focus. Magnet schools fall into three categories:
For more information about applying to a magnet school, visit our guide here.
Vanguard Schools: These are schools which offer specialized programming for Gifted and Talented (G/T) students. In order to qualify for participation in a Vanguard program, students must first be identified as G/T according to HISD’s criteria. If a student who is not already identified as G/T applies to a Vanguard program, the necessary testing to determine G/T status will be conducted during the course of the application process. Vanguard schools fall into two categories:
For more information about Vanguard programs, visit our guide here.
Article last updated on August 23, 2014.
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