The district allows parents to apply for enrollment at its 112 schools with magnet programs, and parents can also apply for transfers to any school in the district, when space allows. There are also transfer options for special cases, such as “Home Field Advantage,” which may allow a student to stay at a school he or she has been attending even if his or her parents move to another zoned area.
"We always tell parents to listen to their children first," said Justin Fuentes, HISD's assistant superintendent of the office of School choice. "Don’t put them in a place where they are not interested in what’s going on. They might not do as well as they should."
Magnet programs include college and career readiness; fine arts; International Baccalaureate; language immersion; Montessori; single-gender college preparatory; and Vanguard, the district’s gifted and talented program, among others. Program transfer options include Boundary Option, Career/Technology Education, Dual Language and International Baccalaureate.
Parents may select up to 10 schools in their application, but no more than five magnet schools may be selected. This year, the ranking of schools is key, as lottery-based selections will follow rank-order, Fuentes said.
"Now it’s really important they rank according to what they desire most," he said.
The Phase 1 application window ends Dec. 6 and decisions will be announced by Jan. 30. Pre-K selections are not announced until May 1.
Phase 2 opens Dec. 7, allowing parents to apply for a different set of schools if their Phase 1 choices did not work out. If parents apply during Phase 2, they forfeit any offers they may have received in Phase 1.
Phase 3 begins March 1, 2020, which is open to out-of-district students.
School choice in Houston ISD
A full list of programs and an online application is available at www.houstonisd.org/schoolchoice. Parents are also encouraged to attend one of the district's school choice fairs, listed below.
- Oct. 12: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Kashmere High School, 6900 Wileyvale Road, Houston
- Nov. 2: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Sharpstown High School, 7504 Bissonnet St., Houston
- Nov. 16: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Milby High School, 1601 Broadway St., Houston
- Feb. 15: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Northside High School, 1101 Quitman St., Houston