Magnet programs and schools provide students and their parents/guardians/caregivers choices other than attending their local school. The magnet program or school is usually based on a specific curriculum theme or occupational cluster.
Districts may establish a magnet program within a traditional school or a separate magnet school. Magnets are established by district governing boards to achieve certain objectives, such as; (1) creating a better balance in school population across a district, including overcrowding conditions and/or ethnic and racial makeup; and/or (2) to provide instruction in particular curricular areas at one or a few schools that cannot be provided at every school.
In 2010–11, magnet programs were offered in 425 schools throughout California for 179,956 students.