Proposal 2014

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Question:  How has the promotion of Magnet Schools in Hartford changed over time and does this affect whether enrollment of students from suburbs increases or decreases?

Why does this need to be researched?  Before coming to Trinity College, I had never even heard of “Magnet Schools.”  However, after living in Hartford for a year and a half, Magnet Schools have become a topic of weekly discussion in a variety of my classes.  It is clear that they are a relatively new aspect to the educational system, and all of the hype about these schools make them seem revolutionary.    I would like to know if this hype actually translates into the enrollment rates into these schools.  Its is particularly important to focus on whether or not magnet schools are attracting more or less students from the suburbs over time.  This is because one of the  claims that magnet school supporters make is that desegregating schools benefits students’ education.   Magnet School are supposed to be a tool for desegregation.  Part of desegregation requires enrollment of suburban, often white upper-middle class, students to be attracted to magnet schools in the city.  There is a trend of students wanting to leave the urban schools, and enroll in schools outside city.  However, this is rarely reversed, it is not as common for suburban students to be drawn to urban schools.  I am interested in finding out if the promotion of magnet schools has changed over time, and whether or not this promotion attracts more or less students from suburbs.  How “magnetic” are these schools really, and does this follow the trend of increased or decreased promotion of the schools.  It is easy to be blinded by the glaring promotion of Magnet Schools,  therefore it is important to look at the facts surrounding them.  Has the promotion of magnet schools changed over time, and does this translate into increased or decreased enrollment of students, particularly from suburbs?  This is important to research because it offers a viewpoint on whether or not magnet schools are fulfilling their goal of desegregation.

Research Process:

The process of research is always a daunting task for me, so to begin I am going to search online databases such as Trinity College Library’s, ERIC, and GoogleScholar.  I also am planning on scheduling time with a Trinity Librarian so they can assist me in finding the best and most relevant sources.  I am beginning my search by looking for articles that provide an overview of what Magnet Schools are, when they began, distinctive characteristics about them, and the goals of the schools.  I think this type of information will provide a good introduction to my paper.  I also need to research supporters of Magnet Schools and find more information on why Magnet Schools are seen as a desegregation tool.  I know that I cannot rely on just scholarly articles for this type of paper, I need to focus a lot on data.  I will be using the Magnet School Racial Survey By Town of Residence conducted by the Public School Information System for the school years from 2005-2008 to see if magnet school enrollment has changed or remained the same.  I will also find the most recent collection of this data.  I will be looking at magnet school promotional pamphlets generously provided by Jack to see how different magnet schools were advertised in January 2007.  I will compare this to magnet school websites that exist today, such as those on the CSDE website and take note on how their strategies have changed or remained the same.  I will finally analyze my findings and see is there is a relationship between changes in promotional techniques and enrollment.


Arcia, E. (2006). Comparison of the enrollment percentages of magnet and non-magnet schools in a large urban school district. Educational Policy Analysis Archives14(33), 1-16. Retrieved from

Connecticut state department of education. (2002). Retrieved from

Rossell, C. H. (1979). Magnet schools as a desegregation tool. Urban Education, 302-320. Retrieved from html

State of Connecticut Department of Education. (2005).Magnet school racial survey by town of residence . (also 2006, 2007, 2008)

assorted promotional pamphlets from Jan 2007 Magnet schools


Next Step:  I am also interested in looking into whether or not the promotion or “hype” about magnet schools actually matches up with the results these schools produce.  To make this fit the “change and continuity over time” aspect of this paper, I could research school level (or students level) data of test scores or another type of evaluation over the past few years.  I would then analyze this data and from it decide if there seems to be trends in increasing or decreasing performance in magnet schools.  I am hoping to possibly incorporate this into my paper.  I also need to request recent data on student enrollment in magnet schools.

One thought on “Proposal 2014”

  1. Emily, this is a thoughtful research question and you have already found several appropriate primary and secondary sources, based on our prior discussion.

    Suggestions as you move forward:
    1) Consider reframing your RQ to de-emphasize a direct correlation between magnet school marketing and enrollment. As you realize, there could be other factors in the mix: availability of transportation, creation of schools with specific themes, perception and reality of student safety, etc. Furthermore, magnet school enrollments do not directly reveal its level of “attraction” as measured by how many applied, because not all applicants win seats in the lottery system. Perhaps a wiser RQ would ask something more like:
    How has magnet school marketing in the Hartford region changed over time, and how might this be associated with suburban district enrollment patterns?
    Of course, this is just a suggestion, and you should feel free to modify as you wish.

    2) To help you think more broadly about the topic, look for sources with keywords “magnet school” and “marketing” (or other synonyms) on a national level. In addition to the recommended search databases, you may find it useful to scan the brand-new conference program for Magnet Schools of America, which is holding its annual meeting in Hartford next month. Go to the link below and click on links to see PDFs for each time block. While your essay is due before the event, it may give you an idea of some marketing strategies and related efforts by MSA members.

    Sidenote: While it’s reasonable for a Connecticut resident to believe that magnet schools are a new invention, this school desegregation strategy dates back at least to the 1970s (and maybe earlier). If you want to read more about this, ask me to suggest sources.

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