Northridge/Granada Hills/Porter Ranch

Unconventional wisdom you may not be aware of. . .Holmes Middle School is HOT!!!!  (See PARENTS SEEKING SCHOOLS, Comment #73)

Porter Ranch Community School opens recently with grades K-8.  Read about them here: This is a neighborhood school and a Korean immersion program (two school options).

Parents, before posting, make sure you’ve spent time on the website: On the site, magnet programs are listed, maps of specific areas are shown, and bus stops are available.


386 thoughts on “Northridge/Granada Hills/Porter Ranch

  1. hi… i may be moving to sylmar. ive done some research and the schools there are not that good. are there any good nearby magnets or charters? please help:)

  2. Hi,
    I live in Sylmar, and you are correct – the schools are not all that great, especially Middle and High School. If your child is gifted, Balboa Gifted has been great for us – but it can be difficult to get in. I’ve also heard good things about Vintage.

  3. Hi yselina,

    Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. If you are looking for open enrollment, all three schools in Granada Hills above Rinaldi have open enrollment spaces–El Oro Way, Van Gogh, and Knollwood. Many, many San Fernando and Sylmar parents drive up San Fernando Road to Balboa Blvd and go into the back of Granada Hills to take advantage of the great schools there.

    In addition, my son went to schools in the West Valley for years. Lawrence is a great middle school, as is Nobel, and many others.

    Good luck!

    • If you are willing to engage in a moderate but not horrible shlep, a place to research for the 2010-11 enrollment year (deadline for enrollment application for this coming fall already passed)is the CHIME Charter schools. I can attest to the fact that the elementary school is a very, very special place.

      • Lisa, that would take one very dedicated parent to go from Sylmar to Woodland Hills every day, twice a day. 🙂

  4. I am going to try and enroll/apply to Balboa Magnet for the 2010 school year. I know the Choices brochure comes out in Dec. How do they determine who gets chosen? I spoke with the school and they said they do not “test” incoming first graders.

    Any advice and or suggestions is greatly welcomed.

    Thank you!

    • hi Debbie!

      LAUSD magnet slots are awarded strictly in a lottery system. Students are ranked by the points they have (see for more information on how points are awarded).

      Students who have the most points get in, until the last slot is taken. Then the rest of the kids end up on the wait list.

      In first grade, the most magnet points a kid could conceivably have would be 15 (4 PHBAO, 4 overcrowded, 4 waitlist from being turned down in kindergarten, and 3 sibling points). The computer starts with students with 15 points, and all students with 15 get in (balancing the racial ratio at either 60-40 or 70-30). Second grade entrants could conceivably have 19, and students entering third grade could possibly have 23, but they start at the top and go down the list. When they run out of spots, the rest go on the wait list in order of their points.

      Balboa does verify that everyone who has applied meets one of the criterium they use to identify gifted/high ability, but other than double checking with your child’s teacher if he or she meets the criteria for entrance into Balboa, there’s nothing specific you really need to do.

      Good luck!

    • Debbie:

      There is no list of which I’m aware. Just ask your school if they know whether or not they are PHBAO (determined each year by LAUSD for each school) or overcrowded.

  5. hi i am just moving in a new home down the street for balboa magnet school that is my daughts home school can i enroll her or do have to wait for the next school year 2010 to be put on a list how would that work she has to go to school and i dont have any points so wher does that leave us out of school

    • Hi Victoria.

      Balboa is not a neighborhood school, so you won’t be able to enroll her there. Look for the CHOICES brochure for 2010-11 coming out in the next few weeks. In order to be considered for Balboa, she’ll have to be identified as gifted or high ability. Depending on her grade, she’s going to have a difficult or extremely difficult time getting in with few or no points, but dont’ rule it out completely.

      To find the school your daughter will attend this year, type in your address on LAUSD’s school finder: Your likely school is Andasol or Dearborn.

      • hi thanks for the infr but she is only in first and they dont test in first what should i do i would really like for her to go there.

      • To follow up, after attending a Council of Council meeting in Local District I last month, a school MUST evaluate a child as early as the second semester of kindergarten if the parents request it. If there are signs to test a child, they can not force a family to wait. There are valid reasons for waiting until second grade, but if you’re certain, you can request it.

  6. They will test in first. You can ask for it. They’ll discourage it, but they have to take your request. And so long as the teacher marks her as meeting the criteria for high ability, she’ll be eligible for Balboa anyway.

    The trick will be that it’s going to be tough getting into Balboa. They let in 60 in first grade, 60 in second, and only 30 in third grade. So you’ll want her tested now so you have two chances to get her in.

    Depending on how many points you’ll get for PHBAO and overcrowding, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but you might get lucky. Just make sure you have some adequate back up plans in case she doesn’t get in.

  7. hi i went to my daughters school and said they dont test the dont have funding or staff for that can i go to another school to have her tested

  8. Hi Victoria.

    First off, are you currently in an LAUSD school? They HAVE to test if you request it. The budget cuts might make it take longer, but they have to test. You might want to call the LAUSD’s GATE department directly to get the specifics, but I’m not aware of any school saying they’re not testing at all. The GATE dept. is listed at:

    PHBAO is “predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian or Other” and is determined by the percentages of each group on a specific school campus. Since the magnet program is a desegregation program, they look to provide balance at the magnets by drawing kids from various home schools to the magnet to help achieve racial integration.

    (And you’re not clueless, you’re just new to this. By next year, you’ll be helping us explain it to new people) 🙂

    • You can ask your current school if it’s overcrowded, but if it’s not a 3-track school (A, B, C) it’s not likely. The office will also know if the school is PHBAO.

  9. Me again… I am now in the process of filling out the Choices brochure. I have marked the multi-racial section, but the form is stating that I must choose an ethnicity. I am of asian background and my husbacn is white. Is it bet to classify my daughter as Asian or White for Balboa. I am going to assume they do look at this too. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • The best suggestion is to call and ask how many points it took to get in as a minority and how many points it took to get in as white. In several of the tours I’ve taken in the last few years, it’s taken 16 for minority and 12 for white. Balboa is either 60-40 or 70-30, but there are fewer white kids in the district than even those numbers. Balboa’s a bit different because *everyone* wants to get in there. But you can still use that information to your advantage once you know which is better in terms of getting in versus being waitlisted.

      Once you have gotten in, you will need your daughter to stay that designation until she leaves that magnet. However, for middle school, you can make another designation if that increases your odds.

      For what it’s worth, we always check the minority box for my kids, and they have always gotten in to the magnets of their choice (my daughter did get into Balboa in first grade, but we turned it down). But we still choose that for her ethnicity.

      Good luck!

      • Hi!
        When you mention to call and ask for the points – do I call the school directly or LAUSD?
        If you don’t mind me asking.. since you turned down Balboa where did she end up going for 1st grade?
        Thank you again for your help!

      • Hi Debbie,

        When we turned down Balboa, we were in a great, small elementary school in the North Valley where my daughter still attends. The difference in API scores were negligible and my daughter was happy and healthy and remains so. We haven’t regretted turning down Balboa yet. In fact, because of the class size increase, several kids from my daughter’s school got in this year, and all but one turned it down. So we’re not alone.

  10. Granada Hills High Magnet Gone

    This year LAUSD has ended the Math/Science Magnet program at Granada Hills High School. Families who applied there this year were surprised to receive notification early this month. School personnel are apparently working with families to find space for them and to try to accommodate interest in math/science. But the formal CHOICES-application magnet program is apparently a thing of the past at GHHS.

    • I go to Nobel currently and I’m in the 8th grade. Does that mean I CANT go to Granada, because I can’t find it in the brochure and I’m really disappointed after seeing that Granada is not listed and after reading this comment.

    • Hi, about granada high.
      so besides open enrollment, and living i the area how else can my children get in? one im trying to get into granada and then one will following trying nobel? they both go to balboa, does that give them any pull at these schools? okay so no more magnet, what about SAS.. Thanks

  11. Hi all,

    First of all thanks for this great & helpful site. So here is my dilemma: I have twin sons who are going to grade 1 at Castlebay elementary school. We were in PA last year where they attended kindergarten. Both of them were identified as gifted. Of course the testing was initiated at our request. I want to send them to gifted magnet school here in the valley. Since they have zero points to start with this year it looks like there chances of getting into a gifted program is almost next to null for couple more years.

    One of my sons always complain that school work is too easy for him. He wants to be challenged! He scored 99% on test. The other one says the same, but never asks for being challenged. He scored 95%.

    Do you any advice for me?What should I do to get them into an accelerated program?


    • Assuming you’re looking at Balboa, there are openings in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. You are right in that you won’t have points this year, but you’d get rejection points for the next year, and you never know, you might get in for 3rd grade.

      On the other hand, you can also look at SAS programs at nearby schools. The list of local district 1 SAS programs are here:

      SAS is essentially a gifted magnet without the magnet.

      If your son is asking for more challenging work, talk to the teacher and find out what they can do to differentiate his instruction or make his homework more challenging.

      For what it’s worth, we sent our son to Balboa, but my daughter is at a great elementary school with 25% of the school classified as gifted, so we opted to leave her where she was (turning down Balboa). We’ve had mixed results having teachers giving her more challenging work, but we really like the school.

      You may find that Castlebay is a great fit with a few little tweaks for your boys. The time you save bussing/carpooling and having friends in the neighborhood are not to be taken lightly.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks magnetangel & Rebekka for your advices. I will definitely look into SAS programs in our area for next year.

        I have one more question: How is Sunland Magnet School? I got the echoices brochure & looks like applicants to openings ratio was pretty low last year!

        • Hi AM,

          I’d suggest visiting the magnet and attending any tours they have scheduled. I haven’t been there, so I can’t speak about it.

    • A.M. — Angel summed it up, but also please read the Gifted section of this website (to the right). I think you’ll find lots of good info.

      Good luck!


  12. Hi!
    My daughter, Simone, will be 3 in January. She is currently in pre-school and we are (as most parents) desperate to provide her with a quality public education. She seems bright to us and to others who spend time with her, but I truly have no idea how she compares to other kids or whether she is technically “gifted.”

    Our home school is Topeka Elementary. Unfortunately, I just don’t know very much about it. Does anyone here have thoughts/information about this school? Beckford is close by as well and seems really great, but I think we would have to do a lottery to get in. Would it be worth it?

    We are also planning to apply to VAM for kindergarten and pray that we are rejected so that we can collect the points and try for Balboa in first grade (assuming she can be identified as “gifted” for real by her kindergarten teacher). Do people recommend this strategy? Are folks as happy with Balboa as they used to be?

    My main question, though, involves SAS programs. My sister is very gung ho about this, but I still don’t understand what it is and how it is different from a magnet. She got her son into Dearborn for kindergarten and will hopefully get him into Dearborn’s SAS. Topeka has an SAS program, so if that is good, we will happily keep Simone in her home school. Can someone provide me with some additional information about this program? I looked at the information on LAUSD’s site, but shockingly (she writes with as much sarcasm as possible) it is not specific and not terribly helpful.

    In addition, Nobel is our home middle school. That seems to have a magnet and SAS. If your child is in an SAS program in elementary, do they continue into middle and high school? Do they get priority into a school not in their neighborhood if it has an SAS (i.e. Granada Hills Charter). I realize I am WAY jumping the gun, but I am (a) confused and (b) a total information junkie.

    This website is amazing and I am so ectastic that I found it. Thank you so much in advance for any help.

    • Hi Jessica,

      I’ll do the best I can to answer all your questions, but I’ll start with SAS. SAS is essentially a gifted magnet–without the busses. When Local District 1 (picture West Valley) families couldn’t ALL get their kids into Balboa, they went about creating a gifted program at their home schools–and so was born the Schools for Advanced Studies. If your daughter is deemed gifted in elementary, she’ll be automatically qualified for the SAS at her home school. If that’s Nobel, she’s in it automatically. If you wanted to go to the SAS at , say, Frost, you’d have to go through a lottery, but the SAS is the gifted program at your home school. Now, other schools have great gifted programs without SAS, so there’s no reason to panic if you start hearing about a school without one. For instance, my daughter’s school is 25% identified gifted, we don’t have an SAS, and we do just fine.

      The main difference between magnets and SAS can be class size. Magnets tend to have slightly fewer students, but with the budget constraints, that can change as well.

      You can apply to VAM, but be forewarned, no one these days knows what’s going to happen with class size. Since class size could conceivably increase, the odds of getting in are higher. The risk isn’t too huge, because you’d only lose one year’s worth of points.

      Definitely go in and talk to the folks at Topeka. Ask for a tour, and see what you like. I’ve heard great things about Topeka. You can continue to worry about points, but you’ll save headaches and gas. And the fact your daughter is only turning 3, you’re several years from actually sweating these bullets. And MUCH can change between now and then. If you want to put some energy into a good educational program, volunteer at Topeka and see what you can do before your daughter gets there. At the very least, you’ll be improving the school that drives your property values.

      Good luck!

    • Jessica — first off, as a fellow planner and information junkie, I like your style and honesty!

      Second, magnetangel said pretty much what I would. My home school is Beckford and I know lots of people who go to Topeka and are happy. So you are already in a pretty good place. Angel is right, start volunteering there NOW (or at least stalking parents on the playground and at PTA meetings!) and you might learn a lot and get a better feel for whether it is the place you want to be. FWIW, the Principal now at Topeka is the former Asst. Principal at Beckford and was well-loved there. So definitely don’t rule it out!

      SAS is basically clustering of gifted kids together in classrooms and the SAS teachers supposedly have some training in giftedness. (With budget cuts, I wonder how much these days…)

      One thing I’d add to Angel’s post is that the downside to magnets and going outside your home school is the friends thing. It is way easier/nicer to have friends and other parents in your neighborhood. You lose that by commuting to a magnet, which is a bummer. Your child still make friends, sure, but it is harder to get together, etc. Just a thought. If the differential between Topeka and other competitor schools isn’t much, that might tip the scales for you, not to mention the hassle of transportation elsewhere.

      Middle schools are in major flux and honestly, it is just too early for you to even think about them right now. Anything we say now will change completely by the time you are there. So do have the beverage of your choice and use that energy now checking out elementaries. By the time middle school nears, you can start your research and stalking process over again. Enjoy!

      • I’ll definitely agree with Rebekka on the travel aspect. We live in the far NE Valley. And every time my son got paired with another student, they seemed to live in West Hills. And the parents had a strong aversion to driving. And 45 minutes each way for projects is a pain in the rear. And for friends, it’s worse.

        I’m not saying it can’t be or shouldn’t be done, but as Rebekka points out, if all things are nearly equal, I’d tip in the favor of proximity.

        • Thank you so much for this feedback magentangel and Rebekka! This is really helpful and encouraging. I went to a meeting last night at Dearborn Elementary about their SAS program and was incredibly impressed with the principal, Mrs. Hirsh. The program sounds great and may be a terrific alternative to Balboa. I plan to do the same with Topeka has a meeting so that I can really evaluate where the best place for my girls will be. Again, thanks so much!

          • Hi Jessica,

            Remember to keep your eyes open and follow the news and other reports. There is still a lot of stuff coming down in the next two or three years regarding budget and how that will play out, we really can’t know.

            Good luck!

  13. Hi there, I have a 4½ yr-old and like Jessica nd Rebekka, a planner and info junkie =). Our home school is the newly opened elementary chool on Raymer and Kester in Panorama City. My son is in pre-k and most of my friends a couple of them teachers say he is gifted. and because of this I am getting all kinds of advices like to get him tested, or enroll him in a school that has SAS. I do not know where to start. What is open enrollment? How do I apply for SAS for kinder?How about magnet? HELP! Thanks in advance.

  14. Cecille:

    The real trick, Cecille, is that LAUSD doesn’t do identification of gifted children much before end of second grade. On a VERY VERY rare occasion they may test earlier but they are making testing harder and harder and will fight on that count. There also aren’t many programs for gifted kids before first grade — even the gifted magnets mostly start in first grade.

    First off, I would recommend you go talk to the principal or coordinator at your local school and see what programs they offer for gifted children. I am not familiar with your school but see if they do anything special for those identified gifted. Ask about getting him tested and how early that can happen if teachers feel he is gifted.

    I would be wary of switching from your local school (unless it is really bad!) because it is very possible you will be switching schools in a few years anyway when your child is identified. It depends on your child’s temperament and the level of need for better/more challenging curriculum.

    So… unless the local school is scary bad, I would start in Kinder there and try to get them to work with you on challenging your child. How can they accommodate his needs? When can they get him tested? Try to get the teachers in your court and HELP you push for testing… if the school staff back you (and don’t think you’re another pushy parent who is falsely sure his/her child is a raving “genius”), you will have much more luck getting early testing.

    If you have financial resources, you may also get him tested privately. The website for Mirman Private school for the highly gifted has a list of local psychologists who do it. Having outside test scores won’t help much with LAUSD other than to provide leverage with the principal at the school to say “See, he is gifted, he needs testing.” It also never hurts to have more info about your child!

    Once your child gets tested/identified as gifted by LAUSD, then is the time to find SAS or gifted/highly gifted magnet programs he can move into for first/second/third grades. Start applying NOW for points through the CHOICES program (read much more on this site about that process) so you have points ready when that occurs in the next few years.

    Hope that helps! Good luck!

  15. My daughter starts kinder in the fall, yikes! We did the VAM thing and submitted our application at the charter schools we like but the odds of “winning” the lottery are slim. Our home school is Calahan and it has a greatschools score of 8 but recently was put on “the list”. It is a California Distinguished School so we thought we were ok. We have our daughter at a great private school for pre-school but thought we could find a great public school. Our hope is still one of the charter schools but is our home school our only option? Also I visited Ingenium Charter which is only a year old and think the learning approach is great but not sure of a charter that is new and sits on a MS campus. Any feedback would be great! Thanks!

    • In regards to Calahan, it was put on the list like virtually every school in the SFV. It usually entails one of two subgroups–Special Education or English Language Learners. I did a quick check, and in fact, Calahan took a hit in their ELL scores. It’s not to say these groups are not important, but if they do not apply to you, that alone should not be a reason to panic. Please find out when Calahan’s kindergarten orientation will be, and go visit the campus. It’s a great little school in a nice neighborhood. Make sure you’ve been there before you rule it out.

      You’re right to have reservations about an elementary charter on a MS campus. I’d definitely wait a year or two to see the bugs worked out before I’d let that be an option.

      Good luck!

    • Yup! I also hear positive things about Calahan (some from CSUN professors who do work there) so… definitely check it out and see if it works for your family. I’d definitely go visit a Calahan PTA meeting this spring and/or chat with parents on the playground after school.

      Lorraine, please explore this Yenta site more about some of your other points — other options (you can do Open Enrollment in the spring, for example) and also info on the ratings — they are probably not what you think they are. Both are covered elsewhere on this site.

      Good luck!

  16. A freind recommend Valley Charter. It just opened in 2010. I took the tour and of course it is what one would expect a starter school to be, new, small class sizes and very enthusiastic staff. My only reservation is the “unknown”…no track record, API score. My child will be starting Kindergarted and I like the idea of a 20:1 ratio vs 25/29:1. Any thoughts? Anyone else familiar with Valley Charter in North Hills?

  17. I had one daughter 9 year old and one son 8 year old who now one in Magnet school and the other attended public school in Chatsworth. In short, my daughter had been admited to Balboa Magnet 2 year ago and I also applied for my son (8yrs) as well by that time at 2009. However, when the file was sent from down town district to my son elementary school his teacher (was actually new – first year in this school) does not know about the Magnet procedure so she was mistakenly marked as not gifted.

    The Student service from down town district since then drop the file and does not send me any letter at all to let me know what the situation for my son.

    My son got into first grade and the down town district just simply reset the file to zero that mean my son lost all 4 point of waiting time (every year we waiting we will get 4 point)

    Now at second grade my son only got 4 point for waiting from the previous year which in fact should be 8 if the file not been mix up.

    I had call the teacher since and talked to her regarding the situation. She agree that she will call the down town district to see if they can help since she was my son teacher by that time.

    However, when she call the office, they said that the parent had to complaint when they see the mistake. I can not see it since they does not sent me any letter for that year.

    They then said since it was 2 year already they can not change it even our teacher said that was her mistake.

    Today when I when to my son teacher for regarding his application She had made a call to Student Integration Service at 213-241 6532 immediately After a long waiting she finally be able to talked to Mr. Ortiz He was Senior liaison Aide officer. Mr. Ortiz said he had send the letter to me regarding my son situation in which yesterday when I went directly to Balboa school for clarification and the Balboa Coordinator call them immediately in front of me at that point. the Student Integration Services said they did not send any letter to the parent since my son school had mistakenly put him on NO for gifted child. There was no reason for them to send any further letter.

    I had keep all letters from Student Integration Services. Of course, I got all letters for the following year but not the first year in 2009. (they involved Confirmation letter , Eligibility letter, and Waiting list letter.) All I got for 2009 was the confirmation letter which inside it said No Error were found in your child’s application. It will continue in the selection process.

    When son teacher said if you had send the letter to the parent do you had any copy of them or any record of them Mr. Ortiz said he can not provide any because it is a lot of work for him to digging to those pile of file. He claim that he even had record for 5 years ago in his record. Thus he simply said he do not had time to do that. plain and simple.

    Mr. Ortiz then turn around and started accused my son teacher that she had ask him to give my son 4 more points in which he can not do. Even when my son teacher only tried to explain to him that since she was new in this environment of Magnet school file process she had made a mistake is there any thing she can do or even write a recommendation letter any thing for helping the situation better. He said that every thing already done for a long time and nothing he can do don’t bother ask him to put more point to my son file!!!!!

    Mr. Ortiz refuse to discuss any further so my son teacher had to ask for some one else beside him. after a long hour of waiting he finally transfer her to Mr. Savah Lasnover her phone was 213- 241- 6532 which was his boss. Mrs. Savah said the parent can appeal or file a complain when they see some thing not right however, we as a parent had not receive the letters so I would not know any thing to appeal. I had actually contact Balboa office personally at that time for the status of the file but they said I had to wait so I follow their advice. Mrs Savah again, said that the file was done a long time even she recognize that the teacher had make a mistake but she can not change it. If she change now for my son she should change for every one else.

    I believed if we make a mistake and would like to correct it we could , should be and must able to so our children can look upon.

    I had an appointment with the principal tomorrow at 9:30 but I don’t know what should I tell her after the conversation with Mr. Ortiz and Mrs. Savah.??

    Again I know it was late for your response but I hope I tried my best to exhaust all possibility for my child in which some one just mistakenly making error and effect his ability to achieved a better challenge. All of your advice will be greatly appreciated

    Kindly Regards

    Phucan Le

  18. Thank you for providing so much helpful information on this website. I just had a baby and a few friends told me that I should start applying for Balboa Magnet so we can accumulate points. Sounded extreme to me but they told me they weren’t kidding…I would greatly appreciate your advice:

    1) When would you recommend we start applying if we want her to attend Balboa in 1st grade?

    2) Once you start accumulating points, can you lose them at a certain point? For instance, if we accumulated 16 points (12 points for getting rejected 3 times + 4 points for PHBAO), do we start losing points if we don’t continue applying until she is old enough to attend 1st grade?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Hi KangaAndBabyRoo,

      Congrats on the baby. Relax and enjoy. You will not be able to apply for Balboa for first grade until your daughter is IN Kindergarten and even then you will need the teacher to verify your child’s giftedness. You can apply at age 4 for kindergarten to a DIFFERENT school (like Valley Alternative) and then hope you can’t get in. If you get in, and turn it down you’ll lose the points. However, since you won’t have points otherwise, it’s probably worth the gamble.

      Wait list points are good for 3 years, but you won’t likely have point for three years, unless your child doesn’t get in until 3rd grade.

      Most kids who get into Balboa in first grade don’t have the most points–rather 12 or 8 are the norm.

      Again, relax and ENJOY your baby. Things could change wildly between now and then.

      • Ah, that sounds much more reasonable. Thanks for this information! In the meantime, I am enjoying every moment of being a mommy. 🙂

  19. Could anyone please share some comments on El Oro elementary and Tulsa elementary? With 43% white, is El Oro a PHBAO? I know they both have SAS, but do they have gifted classroom at the regular school? We will be moving to Granada Hills from SCV and our gifted son is going to 3rd grade. With 0 points at hand currently, we hope at least we can have the 4 points for PHBAO when we apply for magnet in Dec. So if there is no big difference between the two schools, we will choose Tulsa to have that 4 points for sure. Also, since our son will be in the regular school this year, a gifted classroom in regular school will be a big plus. If we fail the magnet game this year, at least next summer we can apply for the school’s SAS. Just not sure if their SAS are comparable. Also, if we are in Tulsa and apply for SAS at El Oro, will we have priority over other kids from outside Granada Hills?

    I’d like to express my great appreciation to the people on this website, for all the education I received on magnet, gifted and so much more…None of our close friends live within LAUSD. A friend lives in Northridge, but ended up renting a room in Palo Verdes with her daughter just for the school there. I only had negative views on Lausd until I discovered this website while looking for better education choices for my highly gifted son. Now I understand why traffic becomes better when school is off. For all the education choices LAUSD provided to decent families who are not rich, I now highly respect this city and the school district.

    • To get PHBAO points, you need to be living in the boundaries of that school, so make sure you talk to the school before settling on a house. You can also ask if El Oro is PHBAO, because that can change from year to year. I believe they were, but I don’t want you making a decision based on what was a couple of years ago. In past years, El Oro did have self contained gifted classrooms, rather than the clustering model. I can’t speak for Tulsa.

      You get priority for a school’s SAS by attending that school’s home program. Otherwise you would be applying like everyone else outside the school’s boundaries. SAS is a separate application process than magnet or open enrollment.

      You will want to tour both schools and talk to parents at both schools before you make such a big decision. Good luck.

    • Sorry, Wendy, don’t know detail about Tulsa or El Oro!

      But… just a suggestion, be sure you read through the information on the “Gifted” section of this site as well. Sounds like it will be useful to you. Good luck!

  20. Hi Wendy,
    I have a nephew at El Oro and a few friends there. They all seem to love it. Not sure about Tulsa, but I do think El Oro is higher performing. That’s what I would pick. They also have an SAS that “starts” in 3rd grade. I say “starts” cause that’s the official grade but not really. They start tracking students since Kindergarten and place them accordingly in first an so on. From the moment they meet your chid, the teachers and admin. get an idea of who is going where. Honestly, tracking happens in all pubic schools SAS, magnet or regular. My advice is be direct with the teacher, tell them your desires and goals, and work together to reach them. Our home school is Castlebay (my alma mater) but my son got into Balboa for 1st grade this fall which is where he is prob. going. He is coming from private school and we are still very torn with this decision. Good luck!

    • Just to be clear, not ALL schools separate the gifted kids out. Some cluster, where the kids work in a regular classroom, but there is a group of gifted students in each classroom. My daughter’s school happens to be one of the schools that doesn’t separate out the gifted students. Some parents are ok with it, and some hate the policy. I have no problem with clustering, so long as the teacher actually does differentiate.

  21. The information here is SO helpful. Thank you!! I was talking with my neighbor yesterday and I freaked out because I didn’t get the whole point thing with the Choices brochure. Our home school is El Oro Way and my daughter has a year left of preschool. She’ll start K in 2012.

    So let me get this straight. I can apply to a “gifted” program with a Kindergarten class and hope not to get in to accrue points? Like everyone else, I’m hoping she eventually gets into Balboa (my alma mater) but I’m not too worried since El Oro has the SAS program. But I’d rather apply and decide to turn it down later than not apply and be mad that I didn’t in the end! So if you can help me to understand the whole point thing, I’d appreciate it because frankly, I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around it. THANK YOU!!

    • You won’t be applying for a gifted magnet for kindergarten, as there are none. You’d apply to perhaps Valley Alternative for kindergarten, hope you don’t get in (odds are you won’t), and then given your kindergarten teacher’s recommendation for your daughter, you can apply for first grade to Balboa (or any other gifted magnet).

      As for points, you get points in a variety of ways. Students are ranked from 23 to zero, and highest point totals get in. Twenty-three assumes 12 matriculation points, 4 overcrowding, 4 PHBAO (Predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian, Other) and then 3 for sibling(s) attending the same magnet. Realistically students do get into Balboa in 1st grade with 4 or 8. With El Oro being your home school, you would have a good chance.

  22. Does anyone have any feedback on the charter schools, namely CHIME? Our son starts kinder next year and looking into our options.

    • Mary:

      Everyone I’ve spoken to with children at CHIME loves it. A lot of CSUN faculty have children there, the school is affiliated with the School of Education. The only criticism I’ve heard is that some parents think the inclusive part of its program (it prides itself on welcoming children of all types, including the disabled) may work to the detriment of gifted children and the curriculum may not be accelerated/challenging enough. I discussed this perception directly with a CHIME board member who said they were aware of it and were making it their personal mission to change (FWIW, that person didn’t feel it was a true/accurate assessment, but acknowledged the perception exists and needed to be addressed.)

      CHIME is by lottery only. Take tours, talk to folks, and apply in the spring. They run K-8 I believe. One thing — since it is a charter and not magnet, you would have to collect points if you wanted to enter a magnet high school program later. But obviously that’s a ways down the road…

    • mom2ojgh has her pulse on the same information I have. I know recent families with both special needs and non-special needs children, and some do leave at the middle school level–mostly to be prepared for high school down the road. I’ll see if I can get one of the current CHIME parents to post, I know those are the responses you wish to hear from.

      • I’ve heard great things about this school but from the side of special needs, ranging from behavioral to physical. My son has neither. The philosophy sounds great. I did notice the scores were just over 800. How much do scores really matter?

        What about some of the other charters; Our Community School and Valley Charter?

        • To me, personally, test scores only matter among the subgroups to which my child applies. If a school is highly inclusive, you’re going to see test scores that reflect the varying abilities of its population. That’s a far cry from a school that has typical students or even has a high percentage of gifted kids. I’d definitely take a tour and talk to parents.

  23. Does anyone know anything about Taft High School in Woodland Hills?
    How good is their IH program?

    What about Granada Hills Charter? What do you know?

    My son will be going into high school in a year. Will appreciate any advice.

    • I don’t know much about Taft but attended the Taft IH presentation at Reed Middle School’s “meet the schools” program last year. It was positive. The principal is highly involved/supportive and the students there spoke highly (of course). They offer many options for students and even have Pierce College classes on campus as one option. Strong sports program. Definitely worth checking out.

      Granada Hills Charter has a massive reputation as an excellent school. We live in the zone and we have heard few complaints from anyone who attends there. It is a large school but should be relieved a bit when the new VAAS (Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences HS) opens this year at Balboa and Devonshire. It has several small learning communities to pick from and prides itself on sports and music programs. I’ve heard some mild criticism that there are “a ton of rules” but also heard parents view that as a positive regarding discipline. In any case, GHCHS is tough to get into without living in the area and offers a lottery for those who don’t. People do get in that way (a friend did) but it isn’t a given and is quite competitive.

      If you are interested in either, definitely go on tours this fall and apply! Ask about SAS and permit programs and how their lottery/admissions work.

      • Taft got a new principal this summer, but the hiring committee was made up of parents, teachers, and community, so it was a joint decision. I can say that Taft’s graduation rate just jumped some 17% from 61 to 78%. They’ve just created a nanotechnology academy, and the outreach they’ve done to bring kids home to Taft has been amazing. They also have the infamous “Food Truck at Taft” each Wednesday night–with the gourmet food trucks proceeds going toward the senior scholarships. I know several of the parents at Taft, and it’s a very involved school. If we weren’t so far, it is definitely a school I’d consider. Taft has had open enrollment in the last few years, and they’re actively recruiting to get people to visit.

        Granada is a great school, and you’ll hear plenty about it. Sadly, they have a 2500 student wait list, so if you’re not in their residential area, I will tell you know to have a Plan B, a Plan C, etc, because even employees can’t get their kids in with that kind of waitlist. Definitely attend one of their orientations, but try hard to find other alternatives that will make you as happy.

        • Thanks for your help. I would like to connect with any parents at Taft particularly in IH program. Also, I wonder where Taft graduates end up for college. I you can connect me with some it will be great.

  24. Does anyone have any thoughts or comments abour Tulsa? My child currently attends Vintage and my husband, daughter and I dislike the school.

    My daughter (2nd grade in 11-12) was referred by her teacher for testing for the gifted program but the school never got around to administering the test.

  25. My neighborhood elem. school is Castleybay which is a great school. However, my neighborhood middle school is Frost but I want my son to go to Nobel. He is in kindergarten and his teacher suspects he is gifted. I want him to stay in Castlebay and not consider Balboa but want to start collecting points for middle school. When do I start collecting them without risking too much for losing them? If I lose all my points, can I still apply SAS program and get him in Nobel?

    • Your son will be able to apply SAS at Nobel, which would be separate than the magnet, giving you two options. Since your son is in kindergarten, keep an open mind, because of many changes in programs, you may find that Frost is a great option, or Holmes even. They’re all very similar with their API scores, and a lot can change.

      That being said, in terms of banking rejection points, there is no “safe” number not to lose them. Many people find that they get in with 8 or 12 points in “off” years. Conventional wisdom would have you apply in 2nd through 4th grade for rejection points for 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and if you don’t get in any of those years, you’d have the rejection points. But even Balboa can call you in 4th or 5th grade and you could find yourself in the same position.

      My suggestion at this point, is to enjoy your child’s early years, and start talking to neighbors casually. Those with older children will let you know where they sent their kids and why. It will give you a great many options–long before you need them five years from now. Good luck.

  26. magnetangel –

    My daughter turns 4 in February. From the information I’ve been able to gather from this site and other resources, my best bet to get her into a magnet program is to apply to VAM for kindergarten and hope to be rejected so that I can accumulate points for first grade. I was thinking to apply to Balboa, which means that I would need to have her Kindergarten teacher sign off that she is “gifted.” Are there resources I can refer to for preparation (e.g. OLSAT Test Prep – Level A)? Also – if I chose a magnet program that is not classified as HG, I am assuming I do not need teacher sign off and will just need to take my chances with points, correct? In the meantime, I will need to have a back up school for kindergarten. I was thinking of going through the open enrollment process for Van Gogh Elementary, but I wanted to have a few other good schools as well. I noticed you’ve mentioned living in the North East Valley and your daughter attends Elementary school there. Mind I ask which school?

    • Applying to Valley Alternative Magnet will give you a chance at the 4 rejection points. However, you could get in. That being said, you won’t have lost anything if you do so. Kindergarten teachers are quite used to getting requests to sign off that the child shows signs of high ability. The actual gifted designation would be something she’d need to be tested for–either in second grade through the Otis-Lennon test or beforehand if you request it and the school team deems it’s appropriate. The actual test they use is the Raven test and while there are websites you can expose your child to, if your child mentions that she’s been practicing, she will not be allowed to take the test, and she will have to have a separate test with a district psychologist. I tend to recommend NOT prepping a child for gifted testing. You want her to be gifted on her own right.

      If you were to choose a magnet that is not gifted, you wouldn’t need the gifted designation.

      I’m not sure which your elementary school is, but I’d make sure to look at it first. Van Gogh is an option, as is El Oro Way (which offers separate classes for gifted students), and even Knollwood. I’m not a big fan of applying to one school for kindergarten only to rip the kid out to place into a different school for first grade, especially if you can get it “right” the first time with a good fit for elementary–gifted or no.

      Keep in mind, you have nearly two years before any of this applies to you, and things may change. Make sure you talk to friends, you attend open houses, and keep your options open.

      Happy New Year!

      • Thank you very much for the information and quick response. As others have mentioned, this is a great website and resource for parents in the area. I actually live in Reseda and my designated elementary school is Bertrand Ave. Elementary (it is 90% PHBAO and 5 of 10 stars on GreatSchool.Org), so it is not really a school I want my daughter to attend. You mention that I have two years, but actually she will be attending kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year, which means I would need to apply to VAM next December 2012, correct? Do you have any information regarding the open enrollment process at Van Gogh, El Oro Way, etc.? How challenging is it to get into these schools?

        • You would apply for VAM next December, but the open enrollment would not be until late spring 2013. Open enrollment numbers are announced late in April or into May. A list will be available on with the amount of seats available. You can then go into the school and obtain an application. After a period of 3-4 weeks, there will be a lottery. Some years these schools have seats, other years they do not. The reason I suggested waiting is there is so much changing in LAUSD right now, there’s no reason to get too set in your plans.

          As for living in Reseda, unless you work in Santa Clarita, I wouldn’t recommend that drive in that direction with morning traffic. On the other hand, what schools in your area have you looked at?

  27. Dear Magnetangel,

    can you expand a bit more on the process of open enrollment for Van Gogh? When does it take place? Any information is very helpful.

    Thank you!

    • Open enrollment occurs in spring. Schools are listed at by local district, and will show how many, if any, spaces it has available for the next year. Some high schools can have as many as 200 seats. Other schools can be listed with as few as five. In cases where the school isn’t on the list, open enrollment is not available. Families visit the school, pick up an application and return it by the deadline (the open enrollment period is about a month). After the deadline, if there are fewer applications than openings, all the students get in, and families will be contacted. If there are more applications than openings, the school conducts a lottery where the names are pulled out of a hat. After the last seat is awarded, they continue to pull names and place those on a wait list. Families that are in get notified, and families on the wait list are told they will be contacted again if spaces become available.

      Open enrollment permits are for the length of the school. So a kindergartener that wins an open enrollment seat need not reapply. It doesn’t matter which grade families apply for, the children are in.

      Many schools also have on-site YMCAs that allow for more child-care permits. These are easier for the school because they are grade-level specific. If there are additional openings in third grade, they can be chosen as third graders. These permits must be renewed every year which isn’t much of a problem unless an increase in enrollment causes a lack of space.

      The truth is many families apply for open enrollment, but few spots exist, so they often also apply via child care permit and get in that way.

      • Thank you very much for such quick response.

        If the the school that we belong to is not considered a low achieving school, do we still have a chance to get into a higher ranking school such as Van Gogh via open enrollment?

        Can you also elaborate more about the child care permit?

        • Open enrollment has nothing to do with school achievement in terms of admission. If you wanted to go from Castlebay–a 10 in ranking–to Van Gogh–a 9–it doesn’t matter. Same as it doesn’t matter if you are coming from a 3 or a 2 to a higher ranking school. It’s merely a lottery.

          Child care permits require that both parents work full time. You will be required to show proof. You do not need to work near the school–simply that the school provides afterschool care or a provider lives in the zone. While some schools have YMCAs on site, it can actually be an in-home provider who lives in the neighborhood as well. There’s a house on Balboa above Rinaldi that advertises day care for that very purpose–but I believe she’s in El Oro’s jurisdiction.

    • Agree with Lisa below. Be sure to check out Vintage before you go elsewhere. It is a magnet so you’d have to apply or get in to Kindergarten there (which is competitive).

      We moved our child to Vintage from a supposedly excellent (highly rated by the numbers) school… that we hated! We are happy at Vintage. Incredibly nice, organized principal, great responsive staff, you get a real feeling that staff are a “team” there. Teachers stay late for events, participate, are creative with projects and technology, etc. Great school-wide events, Vintage is a math/science/tech magnet with a science lab, computer lab, educational garden, Lego robotics team, etc. Vintage was selected to be a NASA Explorer school a few years ago and has ties to NASA and regular speakers from JPL, engineering schools, etc. (my child got to ask an astronaut in Houston a question on live video feed and last year they talked to them on the International Space Station). There is a lot going on here… be sure to check it out before dismissing it based on one number!

  28. My daughter attends Vintage, whose tests scores have been steadily increasing. The API is 914. The lower English ranking is due to the fact that the school has a high number of minorities for whom English is their Second Language.

    I am happy with the school in that they manage to perform well despite having a high minority base, which to me means that they probably have some great teachers and staff.

    It’s easy for a school to perform well when they get to pick the top of the line students, i.e., highly gifted, but a school that performs well with whomever their given, well that speaks well for the teachers, parents and administrator. I LOVE my daughter’s teacher and her teaching style. I had the opportunity to peer into her past performance using LA Times teacher ranking system. I don’t believe that ranking system was the last word on teaching performance, but it didn’t hurt that she did exceptionally well and that her students increased in performance from the prior year.

    A word about getting kids into good schools: the biggest indicator of how well a kid does is parental involvement. A school that does well due to parental involvement and also due to the bulk of the students speaking English as their native language does not speak for how well the teachers actually teach. As far as I am concerned, these teachers can basically ‘coast’, because their high achieving students can carry them. Maybe some, or none of them are doing that, but I like to see a school that is achieving while having some diversity.

  29. I cannot believe my good fortune in stumbling upon this site. I have been aimlessly trying to navigate the LAUSD charter/magnet/SAS/open enrollment madness and I am so thankful for all of the information provided on this site. I have a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old and am trying to strategically find a place to land. We are currently renting and plan to for the next few years, I am trying to focus our house search by “home” schools and it is quite overwhelming. I find a place in our price range, then type the address into the LAUSD school finder, then reference my list of “good” valley schools and go from there. In the meantime I am trying to visit and obtain application time frames for all the area charters. This process is incredible and it is so refreshing to see so many other dedicated parents obsessing as well. Does anyone have feedback on the local charters (Our Community, Ivy Acadamia, North Valley, Magnolia Science, etc)? Also, I’ve noticed that quite a few LAUSD “home” schools now have a charter designation such as Hale Middle School, what does that mean for enrollment requirements? It was my understanding that charters operated strictly on a lottery but do schools that are LAUSD “home” schools that are now considered charter also utilitze the lottery system or is enrollment determined by address? This site and the contributions are much appreciated.

    • Hi Farrah,
      I’m hoping someone else will weigh in on Our Community, since some friends just toured, but I wanted to stress the point–the schools that have gone charter in the last year are affiliated charters. They’re a hybrid for financial gains, but they are still completely district schools, and they still have boundaries and requirements on space set by the district. They will likely still allow open enrollment and child care permits, but they’re not charters in the sense they have open borders.

      Good luck on your moving decisions.

    • We toured Our Community School charter last week and were impressed (for what it is worth). Located behind the Chaminade private school at SW corner of Corbin and Devonshire. Nice campus, former LAUSD elementary school that had been shuttered. They have been there 1.5 years and have $6M in bond money for renovations for future.

      Principal very knowledgeable and informed, former teacher and helped found the charter, basically school identifies best practices and adopts them. They are particular about curriculum (singapore math, specific language arts, etc). They emphasize “whole child” and democratic rule by the kids… they are given tools to solve their own problems and disagreements. Very small, two classrooms per grade level and max teacher:student ratio is 26:1. Plus each class has at least a half-time teacher’s aide, full-time for younger rooms (so two teachers). They do a more gradual transition to middle school but have lockers and teacher rotation for 7th and 8th grade so they get used to it before going to high school.

      Campus offers music and art, garden, etc. but it relies a lot on parents volunteering. Don’t know much about API and CST scores but parents give positive reviews online. Worth a look!

  30. Hi

    Just want to know how strict is Granada Hills Charter. I went there twice and left with feeling of a military style administration. The teachers seemed nice. Any thoughts?

    • I’ve been there for meetings regarding the new high school in Granada Hills and I’ve coached more kids from that high school than any other school. My son didn’t apply to the magnet (when it was there) because of the bad odds he would have had getting in, and my daughter is only in fifth grade. But it is on my radar for her when the time comes. They seem strict, but I’ve known kids that thrived there. I also know of at least one that has transferred out. Only you will know if it’s right for your child. I know that doesn’t help, but other people will no doubt weigh in. Good luck with your decision.

  31. Thanks. We want our kids to be safe. I feel safer at Granada Charter than in any other LAUSD schools. I just hope it is not at the expense of stifling the kids.

  32. Hello All,
    I am curious how my sons SAS permite to Nobel MIddle School will be affected by their change over to a Charter in the 2012 school year. If it is an affliliate of LAUSD then he should be set till 8th grade on one permit, or will he have to reapply each year now ?

    Figuring out LAUSD has been a full time job. Now with so many going to Charter ,,,, it all starts all over again.

    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Carol,

      Please read this article:

      Affiliated Charter status is a financial move only. It will not change how students are admitted, and will not require students to re-apply each year. Affiliated charter status allows the school to recapture the lost Title I dollars, since they receive the money from the state rather than requiring them to reach the 50% threshold (and many of the schools are in the high 40s).

      Good luck with your applications, make sure you understand the odds of getting in, but the *affiliated* charter will not affect it.

      • I have also seen the term “conversion charter” used in for former LAUSD schools that are still affiliated with the LAUSD, can you explain? In addition even schools that are clearly not affiliated with LAUSD and emphasize that their charter is from the state still seem to require LAUSD to take a position on charter renewal, although LAUSD doesn’t seem to like the competition. Do you know anything about that? Thank you!

        • Any school that was once an LAUSD school is a conversion charter. Granada is a conversion charter. They take with them certain agreements, such as boundaries/students served, and in some cases, they tried to cohabitate magnets (those didn’t work so well). That would differentiate them from a start-up charter that is created as a charter from the ground up in a business park, etc. The schools that later move onto shuttered campuses or get school space through Prop 39 would not be conversion charters, I’m assuming. But perhaps the sage with the longest institutional memory (coughcough TransParent coughcough) can make sure I’m clear on terminology.

          And yes, LAUSD does have to grant some blessing on all charters but there’s a way to get an appeal from the county or state, too, I believe. Since I don’t spend too much time on charters (they’re an alternative that I think people should have, but should take with a very careful eye), that’s all I can say until one of the more versed parents pop on.

          How’s that for a start?

          • I’m no charter pro either (TransParent?) but the conversion status doesn’t impact much other than agreements on boundaries/students, etc. Isn’t the fundamental comparison between Independent and Affiliated charters?

            Independents are start-up charters that have a board comprised of principal/Exec. Director, teachers, parents and community running them (like a corporation) and are free from the centralized LAUSD rules and policies and get funding directly from the State. Independent charters can set their own schedules, hire non-union teachers, use new curriculum, run their own budget as they wish, and do a variety of other things regular LAUSD schools cannot. While Granada High is a conversion charter (e.g. used to be an LAUSD school) they are now Independent and have considerable freedom to “do their own thing.”

            Affiliated charters (like those West Valley schools that converted this past year) remain LAUSD schools and simply get more money. As MagnetAngel said, it was a financial move to offset the loss of Title I funding (since LAUSD raised the threshold on that to 50% free or reduced lunch). Affiliated charters remain LAUSD schools and subject to most (if not all) the same centralized policies and restrictions regarding scheduling, unions/hiring, curriculum, financials, etc.

            Please correct me if I mis-speak here… that’s my understanding. I think this discussion is very important (and should be moved out of the Northridge subtopic) as parents need to understand that a charter isn’t a charter isn’t a charter…

          • I’m looking how to move replies, and I’m not seeing it. I might cut and paste into the entire article regarding charter.

            Keep in mind too, while not blurring the conversation to the point of utter murkiness, that an Independent charter CAN hire UTLA teachers if they so choose. In fact, some teachers at charters keep their memberships long after Independent charter status is created.

  33. My daughter will turn five November 30, 2012. Will she be able to start kindergarden this year? She is currently in a preschool on the campus of a LA Community College. what is the process for getting her into a school in Granada Hills? I have a relative who lives there that watches her in the afternoon while I am at work. I live in Sylmar. Is it too late for me to apply to get her into kindergarden? Is it difficult for her to get into a school if she starts it in the first grade, as I may keep her where she is at for kindergarden. I am finishing up my nursing program now and I am so busy with my studies I have no time to figure all of this out, but I want her to attend the best school possible. thank you in advance for all of your advice.

    • A Pucci:

      The new rules require a child to be five by 11/1/12 in order to start Kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year (and it gets even earlier in subsequent years). See this:

      Click to access BUL-5708.0%20.PDF

      So… your daughter will miss that by one month and will have to wait another year. 😦 You can apply up to the start of school but most schools have you come in starting in May to fill out paperwork before summer break and then when they get back in mid-August.

      In order to get into an LAUSD school outside your local one, you will need to either get a permit (a child care permit would work in your case — IF the school you want accepts them and they all don’t) or apply for a magnet program or such. You can also check for open enrollment slots — read up on these options elsewhere on this website.

      Good luck!

  34. My daughter just turned 4 and is attending a preschool/daycare near my work in the Glendale. We live in Granada Hills and our zoned elementary school is Mayall. Does anyone have any opinions on this school? Also, I know Balboa Gifted Magnet starts at 1st grade, so I was wondering if I should apply for a different magnet school for kindergarten with the likelihood that she won’t get accepted to accumulate points earlier? Do wait list points only apply to one magnet school or multiple? Also, does ethnicity play a role? She’s half Asian and Irish. I’m also considering private if we cannot get her into a magnet school. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Many thanks!

    • I’m on my way out the door, so hopefully you’ll get some more feedback, but it is very common for folks to apply to Valley Alternative for kindergarten and hope to be turned down. You can take those wait list points and apply to a different magnet the next year. Ethnicity is always a mixed bag–ask the coordinators at the school you’re interested in what the point totals are for each ethnicity. Some schools it’s easier to get into as white, others as minority. Some magnets are 70-30, and others are 60-40 in ratio of ethnic to white, and the district itself is in the high 80s of minority overall, so it’s often a lower point count to get in as white (as well as some of the more heavily white neighborhoods do not get PHBAO points. Read around the website for more info as well.

  35. I went to School Finder(tm):
    and after entering my address, around the corner from Vintage, it returns that my son’s
    home school is Vintage for “K-K”.
    1. Does that mean that he’s automagically accepted there and all I need to do is apply?
    2. It says that grades 1-5, his home school is Mayall El.. So, to have him eligible for
    Vintage for 1st grade, I will have to lottery him at Vintage?
    3. Is there a list of what other K schools are available in the area?
    4. Any suggestions?

    • It sounds like he can go to Vintage for kinder, but then he’d have to get in to the magnet by points. If he doesn’t get in, you’d have to transfer him to Mayall. It’s not a lottery, it’s points. You can use a site like to figure out which kinders are closeby. Good luck.

    • Hey Derick… Vintage does accept a limited number of locals only for their small Kindergarten grade level. I do know it is pretty competitive and the principal has told me people literally camp overnight or show up very very early to secure their spot. I would call the school and ask about the process. I believe once you get in for Kinder, you can stay for the other grades… not sure.

      But yes, the rest of Vintage, grades 1-5, is by Magnet lottery. You would compete in the annual LAUSD CHOICES program using the points (unless the Kinders get to automatically come which I think — but am not positive! — they do).

      Call the school and ask about it. Vintage is a very good school, we are very happy there. Good luck!

  36. 5. Also, he was put as 60+ on the wait list for Valley Charter, so he isn’t getting in there …. does he get points for that?

    • Hi Derick,
      Sounds like we live in the same area. My daughter’s “home” school is also Mayall, which would not be my first choice. What other schools were you looking at? When you applied at Valley Charter, did they mention you had to re-apply every year for consideration? Is there selection process entirely by lotto pick or is there certain criteria that would increase your chances?

      • I haven’t decided on what other kindergartens are available and which are good ones to atttend.
        Valley Charter didn’t mention anything about re-application, but I think you would hafta reapply for the next year., and it seemed to be entirely by lottery.

        • Just talked to someone at Gledhill (thinking of as my second choice for K), and she told me that if my son doesn’t get into Vintage (his home school), that Vintage will find him his secondary school.
          Is this correct?
          Other options?

          • Good luck Derick! Keep me posted on where you settle and how you like it. I think I’m going to take magnetangel’s advice and apply to Valley Alternative for K to accumulate the points and start taking school tours and talking to parents at some of the other magnet schools in our area other than Balboa Gifted as an alternative.

          • Valley Alternative is no one’s home school. mmbuttle is right–you apply through the magnet application site.

          • Wow, not even familiar with this part of the process!
            But the application deadline was Dec 11 (!)

          • Indeed it was. I’m not sure how the entire Vintage thing works since they’re now entirely magnet, but if you’re there now, I’d highly encourage you to find out where they believe your son is supposed to go. There are open enrollment and SAS options (if he’s been identified as gifted).

  37. Does anyone know or can give me feedback on North Hollywood High School Highly Gifted Program? We live in Granada Hills and Kennedy is our homeschool. I applied my son at Granada Hills Charter under permits but he is far down the list on both SAS and open enrollment. He was accepted in North Hollywood HG but it is 10 miles from us and I’ve heard mixed reviews both bad and good about the school. Some people likes the HG program though. If anyone can tell me about this high school I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

  38. Hi, I know you’ll get other responses from other parents. I’m quoting a student who I coach in sports. He actually went from Portola to a non-magnet for two years before transferring to NoHo. His response:

    NoHo’s HGM is challanging, but its faculty and community are some of humanity’s finest. Everyone who is part of a group of HGM’ers that funnels into NoHo will be glad they stuck with the program. Everyone else will be glad they can make friends. I left the HGM for 2 years because I wasn’t in a carpool system, and not only was non-hgm highschool boring, but it was rather lonely, and my grades weren’t any better; I just did less work because there was no one to compete with. Friendly competition is the key to success, and NoHo’s HGM is a tight community of people who mutually benefit each other by their enthusiasm and encouragement. From a life standpoint, the hard work done in NoHo will help immensly with the college experience, and will give students a good sense of where they wish to lead their lives.

  39. @ magnetangel – Do you know where I can check to see if our home school falls under the PHBAO tag to receive the 4 pts? Mayall Elementary in GH has a demographic that’s 61% Hispanic and has no magnet or SAS programs. How difficult would it be for me to apply to the SAS program at Tulsa, which is also close by? Many thanks!

    • The best place to get the most up to date information on PHBAO at any school is to contact the school directly. If you ask that question that simply: “Is this school identified as PHBAO?” they will say yes or no. The SAS program is currently taking applications, so follow the application directions when you print it out here: I can’t say how many applications Tulsa has, or how many spaces it has for non-resident students, so that would be another phone call to the school. Good luck.

    • But also remember, LAUSD reclassified PHBAOs annually (right, MagnetAngel?). So what they say this year may change for next year. I’d wait to ask until it is time to apply for CHOICES (November/December) to be sure.

    • But remember, LAUSD reclassifies PHBAO status each year (right, MagnetAngel?). So what they tell you now may not apply next fall when you are doing the CHOICES application. I’d suggest waiting until November/December to be sure about the points.

      • I think it depends on the school. Since many of the schools are so high percentage wise, there’s not much that’s going to change a 60 or 70% PHBAO school. But you are right, if we are talking about magnet applications for next year 2013-14, then you should wait until the fall.

        • Many thanks magnetangel and mom2ojgh! I called Mayall and the person I spoke to was clueless as to whether they were designated as PHBAO, lol! Although, they do have a “Back to School” session next month and Tulsa has theirs tomorrow morning. I will check out both and talk to other parents as well. This website is so helpful for those of us are new to this stressful process of trying to find a good school for our kids!

  40. Many thanks magnetangel and mom2ojgh! I called Mayall and the person I spoke to was clueless as to whether they were designated as PHBAO, lol! Although, they do have a “Back to School” session next month and Tulsa has theirs tomorrow morning. I will check out both and talk to other parents as well. This website is so helpful for those of us are new to this stressful process of trying to find a good school for our kids!

  41. Mu daughter currently goes to Sherman Oaks Elementary. We might be moving and our school would be Dearborn Elementary in Northridge. We are in Sherman Oaks for next year but I am wondering about Dearborn? Is it a good school? We love SOECS but I am not sure if the daily drive 4x back and forth is worth it. Is Dearborn considered a ‘good’ school? Music, science, art programs available? I’ve read good reviews but I am just not convinced yet? I am hoping to get some insight. We have friends at SOECS that drive from Porter Ranch each day since the mother works in Sherman Oaks it’s not out of her way. Thank you.

    • I don’t know details about Dearborn but I know several people who value education who have children at Dearborn and they are very happy there. It is considered a “good” school. You should review the school website at and then call the school (when offices open) to ask any remaining questions and ask about a tour, etc.

      There is no perfect school for everyone so make sure the school’s leadership, culture, and academic offerings match that of your family. Good luck!

  42. So, my son is starting Vintage kindergarten, and being a single parent, it’s quite the logistical juggling act. Does anyone know what after-school programs are available at schools … particularly Vintage?

    • Granada Hills Rec Center has an after school program. They pick up the kids in a van at Vintage and take them back, then have homework, snacks, playtime, crafts, etc. Check it out, very reasonable.

      Granada Preschool (private) down the street on Haskell also has a similar after school program.

      There are two options on campus, Youth Services (open play on yard after school — much less supervision than I perfer) and another supervised option (21st Century Kids? can’t recall name, sory) but you have to apply for that and get in. Ask the office ASAP… Good luck!

    • My daughter currently attends Vintage and if I remember correctly, the afterschool programs start with 1st graders, who are given priority. But, like Mom2ojgh said, Granada Hills Rec Center has an afterschool program that will pick up kids (not sure about whether they extend this service to schools outside of Granada hills). There is also the YMCA, which will also pick up the kids. Last, there is a highly educated parent who lives in a nice, comfy clean home right around the corner who would pick up your child and probably serve her dinner 🙂

      • Oops, this may sound like I meant myself. Actually, it’s a married stay at home mom whom I’ve befriended (our kids were in the same class last year) and really like. But I was joking anyway, of course!

  43. I would like to know how the sibling points are awarded. I have one child in the magnet at Welby Way, but the gifted program at Welby is not the best fit for my younger child. If I apply for a magnet program other then Welby will he not get siblinng points?

    • Sadly, it won’t help. Sibling points are awarded to give your child a slight advantage to get into the same magnet as a sibling–not for a different magnet. If it’s not a good fit, you’ll have to wing it.

      • Thank you for clarifying that for me. In that case he’ll have 8 points for this application period (4 PHBOA, 4 waiting list). Any idea what the average points students need for 1st grade at Vintage?

        • Off the top of my head, no. But when you tour the campus you can ask the magnet coordinator then. They are usually pretty honest with families. Good luck!

  44. We moved three months before school ended last year and are now out of the boundaries of our old school. We wanted to stay at that school so we just kept going there for the end of last year and this year we just showed back up. Will the school ever find out that we aren’t in it’s boundaries and kick us out? We don’t have a good feeling about our new neighborhood school and our child is doing so well at their old school. So far, no one has said anything to us. So we are trying to fly under the radar. My wife is concerned that when she fills out her E-Choices application this year that the system will somehow notify our school that we don’t belong there and they’ll ask us to leave. Does anyone have any advice or have you been in this situation? Any feedback good or back will be greatly appreciated.

    • Oh, J.E.,

      The answer is tread carefully. Certain schools have patrols (Nobel and Granada come to mind) that routinely check for families who don’t live where they say they do.

      If you have a good rapport with the school, come clean and see if you can get in with a permit of some sort.

      Others may tell you to try to sneak it, but I’ve heard horror stories of this coming back to bite you at a very inopportune time–like a few weeks before graduation. Please don’t let that happen.

  45. My neighborhood school is Holmes, yet it also has a magnet. Does anyone ever apply to the magnet program at their home school? Would there be a great difference in the education or class offered? Do the students mix or is it more like 2 separate schools?

    • Take a magnet tour next year. The magnet has different teachers, and a different focus. Just to further muddle it, schools like Holmes have an SAS, a magnet and a home school. The magnet kids are admitted by ratio by race. Magnets tend to offer an honors and a regular track. Not all magnet students are required to be gifted.

      Magnet students are required to have at least three magnet classes per day–but many magnets have all six classes separately. And each magnet class is required to be 75% magnet students. So there can be some mixing.

      Does that answer enough?

  46. Lots of people with Holmes as their middle school apply to the magnet. You especially want to do that if you want to have points for high school. If you are going to go the magnet route, you may want to check out other nearby schools like Sepulveda gifted, Porter gifted, Patrick Henry MST, or Nobel MST. Although Holmes has had a very good reputation now for years, there are so many magnet choices in the area. I agree with Angel that you should take a tour.

  47. My daughter been accepted on both Haskell magnet /math school and balboa magnet and math school, which one is the best to chose.

  48. Balboa of course, lol, nothing like it unless your child does not like a lot of homework. Balboa is for advanced kids who learns fast, gets bored when not challenged and need extra work to challenge them. That means a lot of homework which my son breezed through but too heavy for some. My son loves that school.

  49. My 6 year old son just got in Balboa magnet. He is in Porter Ranch Community School with his 8 year old brother right now. We are quite happy with PRCS, yet they don’t have a SAS or gifted program there. My 6 year old is gifted, and he has made lots of friend at PRCS. We would rather not having to drive to 2 different different schools, but if Balboa Magnet is academically superior than PRCS, we will have to make the sacrifice. We can’t make up our mind…

    • Just consider that by going to Balboa, you will automatically have 12 points to help get into a middle school. Many people in PR go to Castlebay and, now, PRCS but fail to see the long term and then go into panic for middle and high schools. Otherwise both are probably fairly comparable except that PRCS has no long term performance history while Balboa does.

  50. PRCS has a middle school, but no performance history. PRCS also has a much better facility than Balboa, my son does not want to leave the school, and he loves the soccer field and the afterschool sport enrichment classes.

  51. Balboa is for students who are advanced, needs a challenge and will see a lot of research, homework and projects as a great challenge. IF your child is not prepared to do a lot of work dont send him there. My son loves Balboa, its easy for him. But a lot of parents complain of too much homework. They know this before going there and they still go there. This school is the best out there but it is not for everyone. If you think your son can handle the challenge without complain go for it. If he goes to a highly gifted school later Balboa will prepare him. My son goes to North Hollywood HGM and it is rigorous.

  52. What is the procedure of getting into Nobel? Do you need a recommendation from the child’s teacher? How soon can one start applying, 4th grade? My 8 year old has 12 magnet points.

    • For magnet? You apply from the e-choices website as you’ve been doing, but if you keep applying before fifth grade, you’re going to run the risk of getting in somewhere. No recommendations are accepted. You will apply in the fall–from October to November most likely.

  53. We are moving to Los Angeles, California next month and we are looking for ELementary schools for my 2nd Grader. I like my son to get into Balboa Elementary school but it looks he needs a recommendation from his elementary teacher for that. I have read through some posts but I could not understand the complete process to get into Balboa. Could anyone explain how my son can get into Balboa when we move?

    • You’ll need to move into the LAUSD boundaries quickly because the magnet application period will be the month of October. You will be applying for 2014-15, because you won’t be able to attend this year, as the lottery and wait lists have been compiled. Additionally, you’re going to want to look at other options as well, since with no wait list points, a first-time applicant will have a difficult time getting in.

      Do you have an idea of which neighborhoods you’re looking at? As Los Angeles is a big place, you’ll want to focus on certain areas for this school year.

  54. Help!
    My daughter has been at a strict private school since pre-k. She is going into 3rd this year and the cost (as well as the religion creeping into science and history class) are driving me crazy! I’m in the Porter Ranch Community School area and was wondering how kids at that school are doing. I looked into it the first year they opened and they were so unorganized and second grade work consisted of math in the 5+4=9 range! The principal recommended I enroll her and then sign her up for Kumon down the street. Apparently thats what she does with her kids,but paying $300 a monthfor that defeats the purpose of public school. Also I dont want my daughter to have to do 2 hours of school afterschool. Her private school is advanced. (She was doing beginning multiplication at the end of kindergarten) I want to move her for a number of reasons but I’m afraid she is going to be too far ahead. Does anyone know what the ciriculum for 3rd grade is there? Any help would be extermely appreciated! 🙂

  55. If she’s doing multiplication at the end of kindergarten then she will jave no problem in Balboa. Apply at the school, they will tell you how. But don’t bother to apply if you don’t like heavy homework. 2nd graders there do a lot of essays and a 6 page research is nothing to them. I don’t understand parents who place their kids at Balboa Elementary then complain about the workload. They should know it’s a school for kids who are so smart they require heavier load because to them its not hard. My son went to Balboa & finished his hw & projects w more than enough time for club soccer for 2 hours 5x/wk afterschool, piano 1 hr teice a week afterscho, tennis & martial arts and still gets bored atBalboa.

    • Thank you for your reply. She is use to a lot of homework and projects. I looked into Balboa but because we don’t have any points we couldn’t get in. Her school was even ready to write a letter on her behalf but I know getting into a school like Balboa is difficult. I’m going to start filling out the paperwork this year and maybe accumulate enough points for a good middle school. Until then I am torn between her current private school and Porter Ranch Community School

      • Kelly, without points your options are severely limited, as you know. You can look into SAS programs in local elementaries; SAS programs are gifted cluster classrooms within a regular school. If they have openings you don’t need points. Few public gifted programs will be very challenging as all must hit California state standards (which are minimal) and the focus is on test results. PRCS might be your best bet right now (I have two friends with kids there and they love it) and you’re smart to focus on getting points for middle school (where it gets even harder). With all due respect to Balboa parents here — and I used to be one — it isn’t the be all, end all of schools and has its own pros and cons; I cringe every time people talk about Balboa as if it were a panacea. Please look around — no school is the perfect fit for everyone!

        I’d also ask — why the rush? Kids are now doing things at two-three+ years before we all did. Why?! Is it now a sin for kids to be kids? Some say it isn’t developmentally appropriate. There is no science saying that more homework actually helps kids until middle school. So the kid is doing calculus in sixth grade… then what? So they run out of high school classes in middle school? Then what, college at age 12? Then what? I just worry greatly about the overachievement culture which is why some colleges had to switch to a pass/fail grade the freshman year — because too many kids jumped off the roof when they got their first B… I worked at a very big name Ivy League university and distinctly remember one girl who was failing out on purpose because her parents forced her to go, SHE didn’t want to.

        I urge every parent here to watch the documentary, “Waiting for Superman.” Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now, sorry.

        • Thank you for your feedback. I also believe education is extremely valuable but not the ONLY thing that is important. Another reason I am looking forward to getting her out of her very expensive private school is so she can get into some extracurricular activities. She’s been taking violin and wants to get into horseback riding. Freeing up some money will allow her to be a little more well rounded. (I hope) I had never planned on her being at private school forever. I just wanted a solid foundation and her to learn study skills early. Now that she has that I just hope I’m making the right choice to move her. While I don’t want to push her too hard I also don’t want her bored or left behind…. I guess if I choose wrong she will have at least one thing to hold against me later in life 🙂 And that’s important! Haha

          • You are like every mom or dad here, doing the best you can for your child! Kudos!

            I write as someone with older kids who has seen the damage and stress caused by the high pressure and college/test focus of the system… I was simply offering a cautionary tale and certainly not judging you, Kelly.

            Best of luck finding the right place for your child.

  56. I agree about the SAS program. They are good. As for Balboa, I agree it’s not for everyone. If you find yourself pressuring your child to keep up it is not the right choice. But there are kids that do very well in advance classes without pressure because they love it and they get bored. That’s why Walter Reed offers the IHP program. Contrary to popular beliefs MOST kids in a highly gifted program does not meed to be pressured. The IHP students who take pre calc or calculus or Latin & Greek do so cause it is easy for them. My son goes to an HGM highschool and loves it, finds pre calculus too easy. So yes some kids need this program. There are rumors that it’s very hard but it’s easy for him and most of the hgm kids there. If they dont have this to keep their mind from getting bored these kids will be in a lot of trouble. A lot of these SAS and hgm kids do sports in jighschool because believe it or not, they are bored and what is normally difficult for us is very easy for them.

  57. I have an HG kid in high school and one in middle school. Yes, the kids are very involved in many things and many are self-driven and motivated but I’ve also seen the negatives, the obnoxious egotism, the one-upsmanship, the “perfection at all costs” obsession, the pounding about colleges starting in freshman year, etc. I hear the kids in our carpool talk strategically about how to manipulate certain teachers to get an A. I hear the non-stop constant pinpoint laser focus on college and testing and tutoring… and honestly, it makes me kinda ill. Test prep and tutoring is a $1Billion+ business here in the US. Very high percentages of kids admit to cheating because of the pressure to perform.

    Many HGM kids thrive and do well and are successful and wonderful people, of course! (I’m glad your son is so happy, Mary!) I am so thankful LAUSD does have some options (however imperfect) for these kids as most districts do not.

    Again, I’m just throwing out the cautionary tale for parents of gifted kids about watching the stress and pressure (and honestly don’t mean to offend)… we all just want our kids to be happy and healthy, regardless of IQ scores.

    • I agree. Some kids there are not nice at all
      they think they are all that.
      I think it comes down to the parents and
      they treat their kids and what they teach them.
      No master how smart they are kids need
      boundaries. We need to teach them moral values, respect, humility so it becomes
      second nature . I don’t have the experience
      on “perfection at all cost” or “pounding
      about college” so I’ve been lucky.

      Sent from my iPhone

    • And with one who’s graduated college and one in middle school, I will echo both the finding their path and avoiding the stress. Son went to a ‘normal’ high school, took a few college classes, and beat to his own drum. Did he mess up curves for other kids? Yep. Did he have the highest PSAT/SAT of all his friends? Sure. He also represented his state in competing for Team USA in his sport, found a love for cheesy movie musicals, nurtured a love of roller coasters, and pretty much did whatever he wanted. And he ended up at a small liberal arts college majoring in Math and Physics.

      The smaller child could have gone anywhere for middle school, but she’s mixing her love of music with her love of history, science and math.

      My son did go to Balboa, and after I realized that it’s somewhat of a ‘name brand’ among parents, we turned it down twice for my daughter (who is apparently the luckiest child in the world when it comes to lotteries). For high school, it might be NoHo, or LACHSA, or Granada, or Cleveland, or even the local Math/Science Pilot School. I’m looking for fit and flexibility–less homework so she can read voraciously every book she gets her hands on, spend time at the Hollywood Bowl observing her favorite conductors and musicians, and filling her days with other stuff of being twelve–which might include learning Spanish and Latin on her own, or it might include perfecting the perfect brownie recipe, or doing Facetime with elementary friends. Since she’s in 7th grade, we start the search again this year.

      Hopefully they all find their own paths, and their success is not based on strictly academics or money or other things. If I end up with two happy, healthy people who contribute to their communities, I’ve done my job.

  58. Thats awesome. my son loves music, guitar,ukulele, piano
    and attends parties w his DJ friend. When his teacher pressured him to go to Juliard and competitions we stopped it because it is not his thing. He likes club soccer, xc & track, tennis, and can read books or play video games/computer games all day. My point is guide and teach them but dont stress them out. A lot of people pressure their kids to perform well in sports, their children are only doing it because of their parents ,it’s bordering on abuse. They think as long as they dont pressure them in school its okay to pressure them to perform well in sports or music or whatever.

  59. Can anyone recommend a preschool in Northridge, Granada hills or northhills area? I feel like most pre k cost 700-900 a month since I would need m-f 8-5 pm. Looking for something reasonal that will still teach my 3 1/2 tear old something and it not just be playtime.

  60. Try North Hills Coop. It is a cooperative pre-school, one of several in the Los Angeles area. It is much cheaper and the parents are required to work– that’s why it is less expensive. There is an experienced teacher/ director. My kids went to Encino Parents Coop. It was a great experience. Many of these pre- schools have been around for 50 or more years. Google them in!!! You won’t be disappointed!!

    • Sofia i heard that is a geat options but i forgot to mention My huband and I work full time so we could not work at the school and need a preschool that offers 8-5:30. do working parents just pay 800-1000 more dollars a month for preschool ?

      • Well, we were paying over that amount 11 years ago for our son at a Bright Horizons Center. It was worth every penny to have peace of mind and he got excellent quality care (we still visit our old teachers). For a while we took him elsewhere and it was a nightmare…

        I agree the cost is high. We know someone we trust who runs a licensed home care preschool in Mission Hills, you could check it out as another option:

        Good luck!

  61. As far as magnets go, I really like Vintage as my #1 choice, then Balboa Gifted, then Valley Alternative. But I’m VERY CONFUSED about getting into Vintage as a magnet student in kindergarten. I understand that neighborhood kids who get in for kindergarten have to reapply for 1st grade as a magnet, but I’m confused about if if they take magnet students in kindergarten, or does that only start in 1st grade?

    I assume that if a magnet student gets in for kindergarten, they don’t have to reapply ever, right?

  62. I called a school and they said that there school was 60 percent minority, 40 white, and I asked which minority and she said they all get lumped together, which threw me into a panic. As the magnet program is supposed to be a result of some desegregation ruling, I thought it would be to my benefit to be black because there is NEVER a majority of blacks in the Valley. Most schools were at about 4 or 5% (vs. blacks being 10% of the general Californian population) and I found very few that were as high as 10 or 11.

    So to my understanding, if a school is already too minoritied (even though that’s probably still only 7% black, with the lion’s share being Hispanic), I would be less desirable point-wise, even if it isn’t MY minority?

    If anyone knows, please chime in. Seems a little ridiculous to me because when they made these rulings, the segregation they were trying to fix was black/white flight segregation and now I think (as usual) we get stepped over before any progress was made. I’m hoping I’m wrong and the system takes your PARTICULAR minority population into consideration?

    • Hi apixeldiva,

      They indeed are ‘lumped together.’ Speaking as a mom of biracial kids, I’m going to try to be as detached as I can (as this is the one part about magnets I absolutely abhor–I’ve had to listen to horrific conversations as parents try to figure out their chances by trying to self-identify the kids on tours).

      The bussing issue that created white flight was about black *and* hispanic kids. The magnet program was created as an enticement over forced bussing, which few liked. Moving kids from less diverse neighborhoods to more diverse schools is working as witnessed by the applications each year.

      With the 60-40 and even the 70-30 models, some kids get an edge. In some communities, it’s the white kids. In others, it’s the minority kids. People who have biracial kids can pick their ethnicity (and a few questions to a magnet coordinator, and you’ll know which group has the lower requirement). Traditionally, the kids who are at an advantage are the ones who get PHBAO points. If your home school is heavily minority, those four points can catapult an applicant from 12 to 16 (which these days is near the top of the list every year), or for first grade, four points gives a leg up at schools like Balboa.

      While some schools are more diverse, there isn’t a school I’ve seen that’s ‘too minoritied’ as each magnet class is formed from the lottery pool that year. And you never know which side is ‘better’ to be. Nobel a few years ago had kids on its weight list of 16 minority and 12 white. Much of that likely comes from where the kids were coming from–plenty of West Valley schools do not get PHBAO, so many of the white kids are all coming in with fewer points. On the other hand, I was told at Millikan a couple of years ago, that they are always going down the list for minority kids, and that school is one of the most diverse campuses I’ve been to.

      Since you’re already considering Balboa, I know you also plan to have your child tested for gifted. You’ll also be able to look at SAS options as soon as first grade, and in the Valley there are a TON.

  63. Hi,
    I had two questions. First, do high school magnet programs see first and second semester final report card of seventh grade? My child is in seventh grade her final first semester gpa is 3.3 and she has great test scores, is she eligible for magnet high schools (btw she is in a gifted magnet program now)?

    • Yes. Unlike other areas where magnets are schools where students are tested and only the best and brightest can get in, most magnets have no requirements at all. If it interests you or your child, you apply. Now gifted magnets do require the student be identified as gifted, but grades and test scores are not used as selection criteria once the student has been identified as gifted.

    • There is a lot of information and detail on the very confusing and complicated LAUSD application process on this site. Do some reading and then post if you still have questions… you need to learn all about POINTS and how you get them and use them.

  64. Hi,
    So I am moving to Sylmar and the schools aren’t good.. can you please list middle school and high school magnets that are gifted or any magnets in granada hills. Thanks

  65. Is it better to apply in the begging of 8th grade (mid October) for a magnet high school, is it true that the student will be accepted faster?

    • Lila, you will need to apply to the school between Oct 1st and November 15, if the dates hold from this school year (occasionally they change the dates). You will hear about it via post cards, via email, and this website.

      Students are admitted by lottery, but not until the spring. So there’s no advantage to submitting it on October 1, and there’s no penalty to sending it in on November 15.

      Please read the website and learn the point system. The only advantage is that more points on an application will rank a student higher to gain admission.

  66. My son will be going into Kinder for the 2014-2015 school year. His sisters currently attending Balboa. By a complete oversight, I forgot to apply to Valley Alt for K to gain the wait list points. What are the chances that he will be able to get into balboa for 1st grade? Will he have his sibling points applied for this school year? Thank you so much.

    • His chances are good, probably better than many. While plenty of people do apply to Valley Alternative for kinder, not everyone does (or they apply and get in and refuse to go). First grade is a hodge podge of a few 11 points (rejection, PHBAO and sibling), more 7 points (rejection and sibling), 4 (rejection or PHBAO), and 3 point (sibling) points. And it’s not unheard of for people to get in, and decide not to go–even to Balboa. The benefit you will have whether you are a 7 because of PHBAO or even just a 3, is you can go into the office, ask where you are on the wait list, and make it clear that you are willing to pull him even a month in as norm day approaches. Because other families will make other arrangements and be hesitant to move, your child has a better shot at it. Given that the school has some more leeway on the wait list, you may find that phone call coming sooner than later.

      Good luck.

      • Thank you so much! I have been kicking myself all day after realizing that I missed the deadline for Choices, completely an oversight with my 3rd child! The magnet coordinator stated that 7 pts would have been a shoo-in. Will he most likely be wait listed initially or is there a chance that they will accept him in the first pick? Thank you again for your help.

        • You’re on the campus every day, so go ahead and ask the source. I’d be guessing. But if I guessed, you will be waitlisted, and even waitlisted late into summer. You will need to make other plans initially, but I think you should be ok before Norm Day.

          • Will do. My nervousness is that his sisters both had the extra Valley Alt. points and neither of them got in before 3rd grade.

          • Not sure what grades your girls are in now, but the point totals have been going down in recent years districtwide thanks to additional options.

            You might get lucky. You’ll just have to hope. And like I suggested earlier, make sure the magnet coordinator knows you definitely want in, and you’ll accept up to the last minute.

        • My older kids are now grades 4 and 2. 4th grader got in 2 years ago in 3rd grade at 12 pts, 2nd grader this year with 11 points thanks to the sib points. Yet, they have classmates who were accepted with 8 pts. If Balboa is a school based on pts system I’m not understanding how people of different points are accepted. Thank you again.

          • Remember, it’s a desegregation program. The first thing the computer does is rank all the applicants from 23 points to 0, and then assigns them randomly at each point level (all the 12s are randomly assigned).

            When it comes to acceptance and coming in off the wait list, the school adheres to a 30-70 (or 40-60) ratio of students white to minority. So all 12s are not created equal. In that list of 12 point applicants, there is a list of white applicants and a list of minority applicants (and all minorities are grouped together). So if for some reason, they get to 8 on the white list, they could still be on the 12s for the minority applicants.

            The good thing is even though your oldest will be moving on, you have a few years left with your middle daughter’s attendance so he has additional chances to get in with sibling points.

  67. So even at 1st grade the chances of a child with 3pts can have the same odds as a child with 7 or 4 pts? Also for middle school, I thought that the matriculated pts was 12 and that was the max number of pts? How are others at 16 pts? Sorry for so many questions.

    • Spend some time on the Echoices website here: 23 is the highest point amount, although, there are so few ‘overcrowded’ schools at this point, 19 is the more normal maximum.

      Typically all the 7s and 4s will be accepted before any 3s, until they exhaust one subgroup (minority or white). Occasionally the numbers differ–so that a 3 in one group might get in before the 4 in the other. In some cases, schools will tell touring parents that they are heavily seeking one group or the other. In the case of Balboa, I seriously doubt they have too much difference between the groups.

      • Thank you for all your help. You have given me a glimmer of hope. What a resourceful board with so much help. Thank you sincerely.

  68. It is a lottery… And dependent each year on how many apply and their racial status and points. Do what you can and then relax. Nobody can tell you ahead of time what your chances are.

    • My son graduated from Balboa in 2001, and while I know people who got the ‘surprise’ acceptance and turned it down as my daughter was in elementary school, I can’t say how many points they had because I never asked. I’m sure it’s possible. The best place for the accurate answer is to contact the magnet coordinator directly.

      • Does the magnet coordinator have any weight in selection with the waitlist? Say, if a sibling was already attending, will they have wiggle room to selection? Thank you in advance for your help.

        • Not in that way, no. They have to go down the list, in order, and have to keep the ratio. The only wiggle room would be how long they give people coming off the waiting list to say yes or no before going to the next person.

  69. Honestly no. You have to have at least
    16 points & even that I was told by the
    staff and parents is usually not enough.
    But you do get lucky. My son got in with
    16 points. He graduated from Balboa
    5 years ago.

    • Thankfully, this is no longer the case at most magnet schools. In fact, it’s almost impossible for first graders to have more than 11 points.

  70. This stuff is all a mystery. I applied for Balboa magnet the previous year (for 4rd grade) and my daughter was waitlisted. I applied again in November 2013 and found that I will not receive any points for being waitlisted last year because my daughter was already attending a magnet school (Vintage Magnet). Also, because I moved to a different area, my daughter is not getting points for her school being a PHB?? school. So, we are basically starting from 0 points.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m going to suggest to all readers to make sure they spend some time on the website. These issues are covered. Once in a magnet, there’s no incentive for LAUSD to provide points to move to another magnet. This is why actually attending Valley Alternative limits choices down the road, since there are no matriculation points at 5th or 8th either. That’s not to say no child gets in to a LAUSD magnet with zero points–it does happen. But there are no wait list points going from magnet to magnet. And worse, there is no ‘decision’ to be made. If accepted, the student is deleted from the current school roles and will be forced to attend the new magnet.

      And PHBAO is based on the resident school in the year prior (so 5th grade if applying for 6th).

      Gifted students do have the option of SAS schools so if zero points is a reality, there are other options.

      • Thank you, magnetangel. So, I’ve spent some time looking at the website and I now see that I was foolish to remove my daughter from the Vintage Magnet because Kids who matriculate from one magnet receive 12 points that can be applied to a magnet at the next level. I was trying to accumulate enough points for my daughter to attend Nobel or Holmes Middle School Magnets. On top of that, I’ve moved to a less diverse neighborhood and no longer qualify as PHBAO. I’ve really made a mess of things. Too bad that Gifted students do not accumulate special points that allow them to attend Magnets with good SAS programs.

        • All is not lost. SAS does not require points and admits based on test scores and grades. When my daughter *did* get into Balboa for 4th grade, and she was really happy where we were, we turned it down. And I knew at that point we’d need to focus on SAS. There are many SAS programs at a variety of schools throughout the Valley. Good luck.

  71. My son is going to middle school, we apply for Lawrence in the e-choices and if doesn’t get in will apply at Holmes. At the magnet night at Sepulveda middle school last year at Lawrence they said that the API is 1,000 and Holmes 856. My cousin went to LAUSD in person and they told her the best magnets are: Holmes, Millikan and SOCES. Can thus people really say that?, is that professional to say?. How can I choose a good magnet?. Please help! . Do I need to go to LAUSD?

    • The total possible API is 1000. Last I heard the Lawrence magnet was around the 980s. Holmes sounds about right at 856.

      But you can not compare apples to oranges. Lawrence is a gifted magnet. Holmes is a humanities magnet. Millikan is a performing arts magnet. And SOCES is an ‘enriched studies’ magnet that runs from 4-12. Only Lawrence requires the kids to be gifted or high ability.

      While those are all great schools, you’re looking for what’s best for your son. And if he doesn’t get in to Lawrence, you will be looking at SAS programs, which are all gifted as well. So, yes, Holmes and Millikan have lovely SAS programs. But you can’t compare their SAS programs to the other programs on numbers alone when you’re dealing with all gifted groups versus groups where anyone can apply.

      Now regarding your son, is he in 5th grade? What are his interests. What is the general area in which you live? I can offer suggestions, but if you’ve already applied to Lawrence (how many points do you have?), you’ll be looking at SAS or open enrollment, not magnets.

      Good luck.

  72. Holmes & Lawrence are both excellent schools. Your child’s success depends on his performance. My son’s teacher in Balboa recommended Lawrence or Porter (structured school) for my son. We chose Porter because of the proximity to our home. Now my son goes to North Hollywood HGM. Although Van Nuys & Granada Hills are excellent choices as well.

  73. Thanks you for the info!!!. . Yes he is in a magnet program at ” Academy for enriched sciences”. So when he get out he will get 12 points automatically, and we did apply for only one school at the e-choices which is Lawrence, we live in Northridge and Holmes is the closer one for SAS program, that is plan “B”. He is in 5 grade, he likes science and hands on.

    • I don’t think you’ll have to worry about plan B. If he’s got 12 points, the last few years, Lawrence has gotten kids in with 8 or fewer in the first go-round, not including the wait list.

  74. My family and I are moving into a new home in the summer (early August). My daughter would be starting Kinder at Porter Ranch New School. But I read that registration is in spring. Can I enroll her in the fall after we move? Would she be able to get into YMCA after school programs? And if anyone knows anything about other afterschool programs, can you please tell me them about them. Thank you!

  75. Does anyone know which school is better. Granada hills high or chaminade? I’m new to the area and trying to figure out where to place my kid.

    • Lily,

      You’ll need to tour both. One is a private, Catholic high school. The other is a 4000 seat charter high school. Both have great reputations for various reasons including academics, sports, and other extra curriculars.

  76. They are both excellent schools except one is public the other is private. My son goes to North Hollywood HGM and if he’s not there he would be going to either Granada our homeschool or Van Nuys HS. Even if I had the money to pay for a private school I would STILL choose one of the 3 public schools I mentioned over private. Harvard Westlake is an excellent private school but I would choose either NHHG, Van Nuys or Granada anytime. A lot of rich kids go to public schools but a lot of people dont like it either so it’s just a matter of choice. They are run differently w different rules so do your research & see your options.

    • MJ, You mention three schools with good reputations. Is there a reason you don’t include Cleveland in that list? Is it not as good?

  77. Sure. Portola is far from me. Porter is blocks away. Balboa teacher re ommended Porter or Lawrence. If I had to do it again I would choose Walter Reed IHP program right away.

  78. If they took Spanish in middle school they will only take 2 more years in HG then they can opt for AP Spanish in the 4th year or an elective. Portola is far from me. If I had kniwn about the IHP program in Walter Reed I woyld have chosen it, its not as far as Portola.

  79. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cleveland from my son’s middleschool teachers. Some of his smartest classmates also went there. My son wants to major in biomedical engineering so I chose schools based on this. I didn’t mention Cleveland ’cause I never research it. But my son’s middleschool teachers recommends them. Some were partial to Van Nuys & Cleveland over Charter schools. I didn’t ask why but I heard they don’t like how charter schools are managed. They like Granada Hills too but a lot of teachers love Van Nuys. Their AP teachers are very good & thats what you want.

  80. I live in the Northridge area my home school would be loren elementary. I work in Encino ca and have another child 18 months old in day care in Granada hills. Is it true that I can apply for schools in the area that I work which would be Encino? would this be only through open enrollment ? Would it be open to all schools in that city or with in a certain radius? Would this also apply to my childcare in Granada hills ? Could I apply to school in Granada hills as well?

    • You’d be asking for a child care permit, rather than open enrollment. Or you could apply via open enrollment too. Los Angeles is a city, the other areas are just communities. I don’t think it would matter–you could also apply to schools in Tarzana or Mission Hills too.

      Not sure how old your oldest one is, but I’d suggest on trying to focus on one area, or one area and back up plan in perhaps a different area–or you will be doing a tremendous amount of driving.

      • Do I apply for work permit through each individual school or through lausd ? Do all schools take work permit cuz I know not all schools offer open enrollment.

        • If the school does not have room, they do not have to take students on child care/work permits…just like schools don’t have to admit students on open enrollment.

          But it is worth asking around for when your kids get to the right age.

  81. Hi,
    I have a question about my chances of being called from the wait list. I applied for my son to get into Balboa Magnet. I called and they said he was in the top 50. Should I make other plans like open enrollment or should I just wait it out? Also, I never heard about my 2nd and 3rd choices? Did they reject me too or was My son put automatically on wait list? Last question, so do my 4 points count for next year if we don’t get called from wait list?
    thanks 🙂

    • Hi Carol.

      You’re only on the wait list for your first choice. After they checked Balboa, they checked your 2nd and 3rd choice, and if they were full, you went back to the waitlist for your first school–in this case, Balboa.

      You should always make back up plans. Balboa is popular and they don’t get turned down often, and depending on the grade, it could be awhile. If this is for 1st or 2nd grade, you might get in. For third, it’s pretty iffy, and 4th or 5th, it will be almost impossible.

  82. Are you 100% sure you want him to
    go to Balboa? My friend’s son made it
    to 1st grade and now she’s not sure. My son went to Balboa and loved it but a lot of parents hate it. The kids have heavy homework and loads of research at a young age plus fast paced instructions at a deeper level compared to regular schools. A lot of kids have no problem w this because anything less will bore them. But some kids have a hard time w the workload and the parents blame the school. Make sure you know what you’re getting into so you wont have regrets. Balboa is a wonderful school but not everyone likes it.

    • Thank you for responding 🙂 I applied for first grade. I am willing to give it a try, I just feel that he is bored at his school and he’s not being challenged. Do you have any advice on any of the SAS schools? Which schools do you recommend ? How different is the curriculum?

  83. I don’t live near you but my son was in SAS program before he was accepted in Balboa. I think SAS is a great program.

  84. Hi Everyone,
    I have been enjoying reading all the posts on this website. I appreciate all the great information! My issue is trying to make a decision about middle schools….Lawrence SAS, Holmes SAS or Holmes magnet? She is smart but is coming from a hippy-ish charter school that didn’t ask a whole lot from their students. She likes art, science, sports, and writing. Any ideas for me? Thanks so much!

  85. Hi…

    My sons are in the SAS program of Nobel ( this is not our home school). I would like to put them to Granada Hills for their High school. Do you think being in the SAS program of Nobel would be as advantage in their application . Please advise. thanks

    • The lottery to get into Granada is intense. We regularly hear of 1000-2000 student waitlists. If there is an advantage to being in one school versus another, I am not aware of it.

  86. Caloy, my understanding from friends who got in there is that being in SAS gives you a second chance as there are two lotteries, one for SAS and one for all other. That is the only advantage. The waitlist is VERY long but we had a friend who was in the 300-400 range and still got in. You have nothing to lose by trying but have a backup plan. Good luck!

  87. Daughter is in Honors program at Nobel, we applied for open enrollment at Granada and we were at the lottery this past March. There were 2800 applicants and only 150 openings (75 open enrollment & 75 SAS), they started the lottery with the open enrollment first after 75 names were picked they switched to SAS and 75 names were picked, from there they started the waithing list switching back and forth from after every 100 from open enrollment to SAS. Waiting list was 2650!!! Daughter is on waiting list #1500+, currently looking at Charter HS & SAS.

  88. I agree with the above comment you get 2 chances at the Granada Hills lottery 1 open enrollment & 1 SAS, what Middle School you attend gives you no advantage what so ever.

  89. I was wondering if anyone knew about Santa Susana High School in Simi Valley? I think it may be a good fit for my child. Does anyone know how many people apply? It says school of choice, with an interview. But then it says something about a lottery on the website, so I’m not sure what the point of the interview is. thanks

    • It used to be very common for kids in the North Valley or the West Valley to make the commute to Santa Susana. Unfortunately about 5 years ago, LAUSD put the kabosh on leaving the district for programs that exist in the district. With the opening of VAAS (Valley Arts and Sciences) in Granada Hills, they will claim the performing arts are available at LAUSD. If you want to know more about getting permitted out of LAUSD, there is a group on FB located here:

      Essentially in the spring you need to petition to get permission to leave LAUSD. From there, you’ll be denied and you’ll have to take it to the county BOE. I won’t say it’s impossible, but essentially there are magnets with every performing art out there (music, orchestra, dance, art), so you will be fighting an uphill battle. I’m not saying to try, but the easier route is to move into Simi. Good luck.

    • You’d need to live there. It’s not uncommon for the schools to do sweeps. But if that’s an option, congrats!

    • I simply meant if you are able to move to the Simi house you won’t have to go through the LAUSD process. You’ll still have to go through SVUSD’s process. But that side will be much easier. I don’t know how the auditions go, and you’ll still have to follow their timeline/guidelines.

    • Elizabeth, we went through the process this past year. If your child is entering as a freshman or sophomore, it is fairly easy to get in. It is a lottery, so there are no guarantees, but we know at least two freshmen (from LAUSD) who got in this year. It is completely random, of course, and depends on number of applicants that year. But from the SVUSD side, all you do is go to the open house, fill out an online application, and wait for results. If you get in and choose to go for performing arts, they require an audition simply for class placement; I’m told nobody is turned away.

      We toured the school and it seems very nice. It is very laid back and welcoming. Performing arts are a key there but they also have several other programs and what most impressed me was staff’s open desire to be flexible in helping each child meet graduation requirements. They have flexible scheduling, with some classes going into the evening. They have dance studios (two), a lovely new performing arts center, and a nice campus. The kids were very nice and welcoming. I wasn’t overly impressed academically but it is a nice place.

      Another option is if you work in Simi Valley, you can apply to get out of LAUSD and I’m told they must approve your permit.

  90. I am new to this blog but found lots of amazing information here. My daughter is turning 4 soon and she is in a preschool now, which plays a lot. Want her to learn more. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Montessori. Does anyone have feedback on Park Montessori Children’s Center in Sylmar? Thanks.

  91. Anyone have any experience with the first and second-grade SAS at Dearborn Charter Academy in Northridge? My son is in first grade and got into Ms. Vargas’s class. She seems really nice. My other two kids (now at Porter Gifted HA Magnet — love it there, btw) went through Balboa for first through fifth, but to be honest, there is so much bullying at Balboa and other serious issues dismissed or ignored by the administration that I didn’t apply with my third. I am wondering about Dearborn’s SAS?

    • I’m interested in Dearborn, as well as Van Gogh and El Oro Way. My daughter is in 3rd this year, qualified for SAS, and I don’t remember ever filling out the choices form. She currently attends Knollwood. How can I get the ball rolling to get her into another school?

      • Open enrollment for these and other schools will come up in the spring. You will be able to fill out the applications at that time, for your daughter’s fourth and fifth grade years.

  92. We’re starting to look at houses to buy in Northridge/Granada Hills – we found a great one, but it’s in the Knollwood school district. I went to Balboa and would love for my son to go there. Also seems like El Oro is great. Anyone know how easy it is to get into another elementary for Kindergarten? Is it a mistake to buy in Knolwood Elementary district? Thanks!

    • Van Gogh is a great school, try to by in it’s boundaries. Balboa is hard to get in – by lottery, but you can start with Van Gogh, and apply for Balboa. That’s what I did with my both sons.

  93. Hi, everyone! My son is in 5th grade in Balboa, he’s gifted(not HG), I’m choosing btw Lawrence, and Porter, PLEASE, tell me where to go!!!!! Porter is 1.5 mls away, and Lawrence – 8. If Lawrence is much better we will drive. Only problem – we have 4 kids – 3 schools in the morning… But we want the best school for our son.

    • Tour them both and see what you think. Over the years the program at Lawrence has remained great. In addition, your son would be eligible for transportation, which alleviates one headache. I know many parents who liked Porter as well.

      Good luck!

      • I’ve been to both, still can’t choose. Lawrence doesn’t core 2 subjects, meaning 6th graders have 4 teachers, vs. in Porter only 2. So, if a teacher is not so good, two subjects will be hated by students… electives are better at Lawrece, too…

        • I would lean toward Lawrence on that count. I’m not a fan of doubling up the classes for that reason, not to mention that every teacher is not an expert at multiple subjects. Kids who go to Lawrence do tend to go to similar schools as Porter, so that won’t be much help either.

          What did your child say, has toured?

          • At first he liked Lawrence, at the end – Sepulveda – Gifted magnet program, but it’s only because one of his best friends is going there. Sepulveda is not doubling either, but my personal feeling of the school is kind of depressing – lots of concrete…

  94. Was in the same situation years ago. Balboa teacher recommended Porter or Lawrence. We chose Porter because it’s near us. If I had to do it again, I’d put my son in Walter Reed IHP.

    • Hi, Mary! Why would you choose Walter Reed better than those 2 schools? Isn’t that school in West Hollywood? We live in Granada Hills, it’s going to be too fare.

      • It’s not WeHo, but rather NoHo–which isn’t connected to Hollywood at all. It’s probably a 20 minute drive during non rush hour and during rush hour it’s closer to 30-45 min.

  95. Hi,

    Walter Reed is in North Hollywood and I’m talking about their IHP (Individual Honors Program) w/c I wasn’t aware exist back then. We live in Granada Hills too. My son loved Porter. But I feel that Walter Reed’s IHP program would have prepared him better for North Hollywood HS HGM. His best friend from Porter also went to North Hollywood HG and have no problem w the workload but then he’s a genius. The drive is pretty quick if you leave by 6am.

    • Wow, Mary. Good for you if you can get them out of bed and out of the house that early. Our HS options are going to be limited by how far my kid is willing to schlep every day.

  96. I agree. The drive from Granada Hills to North Hollywood is not bad like I first thought it would be. It takes me 15-20 minutes to take my son to school. You take 118W, 5S, 170N.

  97. Wait, sorry. I meant 7am. You have to be at 118W by 7am. My son takes a shower before going to bed at night so in the morning he just dresses up, eat breakfast and we leave the house at 6:55am NOT 6am lol.

    • Getting up and out that early does things to the memory 😉 We’re headed in a similar direction from pretty close by, and we leave by 7, too. The good news is there are a lot of side street options starting at Victory, too, when the freeway backs up.

      It ends up being easier to deal with traffic that way than it does going west on the 118 towards Chatsworth. And coming home around 2:30 or 3 is a breeze.

  98. Mary, if you take that IHP, don’t you loose magnet points for HS then? Haw the school puts together IHP for each child?

    • In HS, since there are other options like SAS, many just apply to a magnet they won’t likely get into to accrue points.

      • That only works if you live in a PBH area. We’ve applied to Balboa many times and accrued Zero points. Wish I had kept my child at Vintage, and then she would have the 12 points to go to Nobel Magnet. As it is, we have another shot when SAS application opens up if she doesn’t get in through Choices. Unfortunately, we are at Darby, which was a decent school with good test scores but has become an affiliated charter. Apparently education isn’t their main focus because they have classroom sizes exceeding 35 students in the upper grades. Goodbye good scores!

        • This is incorrect. PHBAO points do NOT accrue. Wait list points accrue for up to 3 years, or 12 points.

          Check your points letters.

          • I think there is a misunderstanding. I meant that you only accrue points for being wait listed at a magnet site if your school of residence is a phbao school. I have applied to Balboa magnet for 3 years in a row and my letter says zero points each time. I callied the magnet office and was told that the phbao thing was the problem. If I had left my child at Vintage, she would have been given 12 points on matriculation to apply toward Nobel. So we are going into this year’s application process with zero points.

          • Wait points are totally separate from PHBAO points. You can live in the most non-PHBAO parts of the San Fernando Valley, and if you apply each year you will still get 4 points per year for waiting up to 3 years.

            PHBAO does not accrue (same with sibling and overcrowding). They are awarded each year, depending the circumstances of the school and the family.

  99. I’m not sure. I know most IHP students
    in Walter Reed go to North Hollywood HG. Noho HG is a great program but it’s very competitive & stressful. Not all bright kids survive there for many reasons. It’s swim or drown and if a student is struggling they don’t get much support or help. So some students leave for whatever reason and they just replace them with whoever is on the top of the waiting list I guess. I don’t like the atmosphere, cold and indifferent. You know your child can be dropped anytime he fails one subject. My child likes it there because he has friends but I fully regret placing him there. I wish w all my heart I didn’t. His bf who was the valedictorian in Portola left due to poor grades & he was miserable there. I know my child would be a happier person in another school or program.

    • Agree with you, Mary. My DD attended the HGM and was fairly miserable. She refused to leave due to friends and band but otherwise, we would have placed her elsewhere. We know others also have struggled emotionally there. The HGM teachers are far too proud of themselves and many haven’t changed teaching methods for many years. They claim they are preparing kids for college when the reality is they don’t even do things the way colleges do now (like, say, posting agendas and assignments online, which pretty much every college prof does these days).

      The ONLY focus of the HGM is ensuring your kid goes to U-C or better colleges and does well on the almighty holy AP exams, which is fine except that alternative paths should be open and even encouraged (e.g., performing arts conservatories for the artistically inclined). Not all HG kids are automatons or Ivy league wannabes (yes, I know, shocking!). Innovation and creative thinking are not respected nor welcome; sit down, shut up, memorize the chapter and regurgitate it please. The kids themselves are amazing and so smart, but the environment and attitude of the HGM staff needs some work. Many of DD’s Portola HGM middle school classmates (almost half?) opted for Cleveland Humanities Magnet instead of the HGM and love it. If they had had a music program, we would have been there, too.

  100. Mary, sorry, but I didn’t understand anything: you said “Was in the same situation years ago. Balboa teacher recommended Porter or Lawrence. We chose Porter because it’s near us. If I had to do it again, I’d put my son in Walter Reed IHP. ” And in the last post your son is in Walter Reed??? Which school’s atmosphere you do not like, I’m confused now…

    • Mary’s son went to Porter and NoHo HGM. There are a lot of IHPs students from Reed at NoHo HGM. She was talking about her experience at North Hollywood High School HGM in her last post.

    • Mary, I have been to NHHS HGM last month. Mr. Bradbury said the program needs more girls. I am so worried that this school may not be a right fit for our daughter esp. after I read your post. i live in West LA, I have no idea if there is other good high school I miss. Any advice?

  101. Mary, thanks a lot for your time, and answers! I tryied to call WR school, even main office, nobody answers the phone, left messages… i have more questions about the program, is it possible I call you? Or, please call me 818-368-8823, or 310-350-6779? Inessa

  102. It’s a great program as long as she can keep up with the pace. It’s very demanding. There are good teachers and there are those that are difficult to like. The problem is when a student’s grades dropped there’s not much support there. All these kids are smart and yet so many of them struggles. I suggest you let her try it for a year. Does she want to go there? If she does not want to go there though I would not force her. My co workers son didn’t want to go there but she made him and he ended up leaving because he was miserable. Sometimes there’s so much homework it’s hard to enjoy highschool and act like a highschool kid.

  103. Hi, sorry but I don’t know how their application process works. I suggest that if you can’t contact them by phone go there in person and inquire about the program. Remember, it’s my personal opinion when I said I think WR IHP would’ve better prepared my son. As for my son, he loved Porter Middle School. My only suggestion is make sure your child learns good study habits, this will help him no matter which school he goes to.

  104. Moms, I red all about applications, and tours, whatever is on the school’s web…but I do not understand, how the IHP is different from Gifted Magnet program…same 2 teachers in 6th grade, as in most , even gifted magnets(except Lawrence, they have 4 teachers for 4 subjects even in 6th grade) are the classes smaller, that’s the difference? The website states they take highly gifted kids with score 97% and above, but for highly gifted the standard is 99.5%…why exactly WR you think would prepare a child better, than Porter, because you know some kids from that school, or you attended open house, and liked it more? What is in the IHP program, that you consider better, than Porter gifted program? I personally prefer Lawrence because of 4 teachers, and better enrichment program, but it is 8 mls away, and we have 4 kids – will have to drive to 3 different schools at the same time next year. Thanks to everybody, again 🙂

    • The IHP is older than the magnets, so consider the IHP the predecessor of the highly gifted magnet. It differs because it is NOT a magnet. Magnets are DESEGREGATION programs–created only to integrate the district after forced bussing did not go over very well.

      The IHP takes students from anywhere in the district with no other permit required. It does not offer transportation. Students are taken in order from the most qualified down until all the spots are full. Magnets go by lottery, ranked by points, based on criteria meant to desegrate racial inequality.

      Being among kids who are among the highest 1 or 2% of students allows the IHP to teach at a different level than even a gifted-high ability magnet.

      The IHP is not necessarily for everyone. We got in and chose a different school (which, until she attends high school, I won’t be volunteering the name of). But my daughter got into her first choice, Lawrence was our second choice, and honestly IHP was our last choice. It wasn’t a good fit for what we were looking for–very strong academics and a strong music program.

      Because you have concerns about driving and distance along with other siblings, I would strongly recommend you consider your focus closer to home. None of us Mom-Yentas have the same situation regarding how many kids, how many cars, how disciplined our kids are, finances, family support (parents/grandparents to help out) and other extenuating circumstances.

      I need you to fully appreciate there is no ONE school that fits all kids, and for most kids, they will do fairly well at *several* options. Kids get into NoHo from various schools, and even NoHo is not for everyone. Everyone’s opinion here is just that–our take on the situation given our kids and our life experiences.

      Choose a couple of options–one magnet, maybe apply to the IHP, and look at the SAS programs at schools like Frost and Nobel. That way if you don’t get into your first choice you still have options.

      Good luck to you, Inessa. We’ve all been there, and we all wish you well.

  105. I agree. I want to take my son out of there but he likes it there because his friends are there. Its not a caring environment. They do not and will not post homework & test scores. They do not send home test papers except for 1 teacher. If you’re wandering why your child has a B, you can ask the teacher to call you but you won’t see the test papers. I wish I never put my child there, it’s the biggest mistake I’ve made. He would have thrived in Van Nuys Magnet or Granada Hills Charter. A little kindness and caring at this important time in their lives would have prepared them in college instead of the mostly indifferent attitudes. If a student fails he’s gone and will be replaced by whoever’s next in the waiting list.

  106. My daughter is in kindergarten at Porter ranch community school. She goes to the ymca after school (on campus), but she’s not thrilled with it. Does anyone know of an after school program that would pick her up from school? Thanks

    • Check with the Northridge Recreation Center, they have a childcare program that picks up after school and takes them back to the child care center there (fully licensed). Not sure if they pick up at PRCS or not.

  107. My son will be starting Kinder in Aug 2015 are home school is loren elementary. I was wondering is there lottery programs for charter or lottery programs for open enrolment for kindergarten? I also work in Encino could I get him into a public kinder in Encino based on my job and if so would that be through open enrollment ?

    • Bella, search this site for information on Work Permits or Child Care Permits (to get into a school near your work) and also look at Valley Alternative School as a Magnet to which you can apply for Kinder. It is the ONLY one in the Valley for Kindergarten but good to apply and, even if you don’t get in, you get points toward the next year…

  108. Hi mamas:) I found this website very helpful and I need some help, we live in Northridge and my daughter will start kinder in September. I’m a looking into castlebay, beckford and topeka and I would appreciate your input on them(from experience or knowledge) our home school is derby it after the tour I wasn’t really impressed Thank you!!

    • Meital, it is very hard to answer this question since every parent/family wants different things from their schools and what works for one family doesn’t for another. You really need to check them out yourself and see. I have many friends who sent their children to Castlebay and were fine with it. We attended Beckford (briefly) before running away as it simply didn’t work for our family. I know families that attended Topeka but that school has changed a lot in recent years since the opening of Porter Ranch Community School (PRCS) in 2012 which also took over the Korean Language program that formerly was there.

      In general all three schools are fine, safe, high performing schools. It really depends on the culture you want and the “fit” of your family into the community. Good luck!

      • As mom2ojgh points out, experiences vary with kids and time. We had a HORRIFIC time at Castlebay and I wouldn’t wish my son’s kindergarten experience on anyone, ever. Thankfully that teacher retired, and the principal moved on. We spent first grade in an elementary school in San Fernando waiting to accrue enough points to get him into Balboa–our first magnet experience.

        We had a wonderful experience a decade later with my daughter’s elementary in Granada Hills–so good, we turned down Balboa, twice. Other people thought we were crazy to not leave for Balboa. We never regretted it.

        You should tour where you can now, and wait for the list which will come out May 1st. As schools have gone affiliated charter their requirements and available openings have changed.

        Good luck.

  109. Unless I’m wrong, if Darby is your home school, that may be your only choice unless open enrollment spots open at one of the other schools you’ve listed. Would seriously doubt Castlebay or Beckford would have openings for those living outside their area (Beckford had open enrollment until 2005). You can check with the Porter Ranch Community school (K-8) that opened a few years ago.
    Not sure about Topeka. Open Enrollment usually is announced around May.
    Next fall you can look for the e-choices (magnet) online brochure and see if there’s some schools that open spots in first grade.

  110. Thanks for the response, all if the above(castlebay, beckford and Topeka) have lotery which I signed for, I just wanted to hear opinions from experience abouth these schools

  111. So frustrated with this magnet point system. I have applied for several years and get constant rejection. Not only that, but some of the people at the magnet office are so nasty on the phone. I actually walked in my application last november and still received bad information that prevents me from getting my daughter into my school of choice. I mistakenly applied to two magnet schools and doing so has prevented my daughter from getting waitlisted at my first choice school. When I applied I came in in person and specifically asked a magnet representative what impact it would be to apply to two sites. My understanding was that I would be waitlisted at the first site but have a chance to choose another.

    When they send out the letters, it is very confusing to have a letter saying, congratulations, your child has been selected at site 2 with no mention whatsoever of site 1. I guess I should assume that site 1 did not select my daughter’s application. I’m not sure what all of this means. Is a computer algorithm making the selections or are live people making the decisions? I feel like since the process is not very transparent (in terms of how much race counts and other selection criteria) that I should also not be as transparent, such as in declining to state race or in choosing one that I think would give the most advantage.

    • I am truly sorry to hear you’ve experienced such frustration. Sites like this exist to try to help families get common sense advice to the application process.

      I do NOT advocate a second site. How your application is routed:

      They sort your child’s point total versus all the other students at the #1 site. If your child gets in, YAY! If not, they see if any openings exist at #2 (and then #3). If you do get in to #2 or #3, there is no going back to your first choice.

      A computer does all the ranking of points in two columns by ethnicity: minority & white. It isn’t explained the best way possible, and that’s why sites like this have existed over the last decade, to help parents. Since this is a desegregation program, race is the primary consideration. This always causes stress and difficulty for families.

      Best of luck to you, and if you want to discuss the magnet your child *did* get into, or discuss other options, you do have SAS and open enrollment still to go.

  112. My child attends a magnet but still struggles with over-stimulation in the large classroom setting. Do you know of any school in the San Fernando Valley, besides Chime, that has lower student:teacher ratios and that are able to accommodate children with sensory issues and hyper activity?

    • Magnets offer smaller class size than do regular schools. Charters might offer slightly smaller classes, but I’m not aware of any public schools with significantly smaller class size.

  113. Our son is in private school at the moment. We just put in the paperwork to have him evaluated for Gifted, which might happen next year (the evaluation). Based on the paperwork, he has been accepted into the SAS program at Patrick Henry (our home school). He will be going into 7th grade next year. I know that it is too late for Magnet, and I am not sure if other middle schools will be quick to take him into SAS before the evaluation is done. Thoughts about PHMS SAS program?

    • In my time SAS was easy to get into. Just show good grades. My son was in SAS, before going to gifted magnet and is now in hgm. I thought SAS was pretty good. He performed better in everything in SAS. But then, he had good sas teachers. His scores on the yearly Star & act was perfect while in sas, not so in gifted magnet or hgm.

      Sent from my iPhone


  114. I am totally baffled by the various opinions and versions of the same information, being given by GATE office, GATE coordinator at our current school and fellow parents. My son is currently attending second grade at an elementary school in west valley and just got his OLSAT scores. He got SAI score of 124 ( 93 – 8 percentile) and missed the gifted tag by a small margin.

    We were hoping to get him into the SAS program at his present school based on the 85 percentile rule of LAUSD’s SAS eligibility criteria. However school is giving us hard time with enrollment and suggesting that he might be enrolled, if seats are available. We have gotten confirmation that there were only 6 students in his grade at the school, who scored more than what he did.

    It seems very unfair to deny him admittance to the SAS program. So I am turning to you all experts for advise. I have couple questions regarding the SAS program.

    1. Can my child be denied admittance to SAS program against the 85 percentile rule.

    2. We would like our child to take another shot at the psychologist / IQ testing and get the gifted tag and if yes, can we ask the principal to recommend him for IQ testing based on his OLSAT scores.

    3. If my child gets into the SAS program, can he continue to be part of the SAS program in 4th and 5th grades, remaining elementary school years or we will have to jump more hoops.

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.


    • Let’s see who weighs in on this one. SAS are kind of their own animal, and quite a few of us pre-date the OLSAT.

      Retesting has been unheard of since the downturn. It’s not that you can’t ask for it, but I haven’t heard of a soul receiving it because of funding issues.

      Be persistent, and follow up. Several of us will be learning along side of you.

    • I’m not familiar with the SAS qualification. A few years ago, a test given by an LAUSD psychologist is usually given to very few 2nd graders recommended by their homeroom teachers, 3 or 4 students. Is your child not being challenge enough in his current class? You may have to talk to the magnet coordinator, and his teacher because she knows his academic performance best.

      Sent from my iPhone


  115. many thanks for quick response. I think I didn’t clarify the testing part…
    He has never taken an LAUSD IQ or LAUSD psychologist administered test for identifying gifted.

  116. Hmmm, Sarah. Lots of good questions. I’ll give my best GUESS at answers but, as you yourself say, things vary from school to school. In the end, it is really up to how the LAUSD rules are implemented that counts (e.g., your school’s principal and teachers have a lot of power in this area).

    1. Can your child be denied admission to SAS program against the 85 percentile rule? If s/he meets the other criteria listed on the SAS website, then it looks like yes, s/he can be admitted to the SAS program. Does he? The 85 percentile rule is one of three options for admission shown on Staff can approve him if he meets the other criteria shown but cannot deny if he doesn’t meet one of them (e.g. 85%). Hope that makes sense.

    2. Can we ask the principal to recommend him for IQ testing based on OLSAT scores? I’d say first you need to talk to your child’s teachers. Not to be too blunt but… his OLSAT scores say he is NOT gifted. Would this year’s classroom teacher vouch for his abilities being otherwise? Would last year’s? If the staff think there is a REAL REASON for your child to be retested (sick day of test, disabilities that hindered it, etc.), then yes, they might recommend him for an IQ test. But if they don’t feel he is gifted based upon performance, they can say no and likely will do so (in their view, they already paid for one test – the OLSAT). I wouldn’t try to open that door unless you are pretty sure you can walk through… because once you ask, you probably won’t get the chance again. If the teachers seem willing to vouch for him, then I’d have the conversation with the SAS coordinator and/or principal to request IQ testing from LAUSD Psychology branch. But without staff support, I doubt your parent request will mean much.

    However, if you are patient, LAUSD will automatically label your child as gifted after two years of good standard test scores and grades (see High Achievement There is still hope for the future!

    3. If your child gets into the SAS, can he continue to be part through 4th and 5th grades? Yes. My understanding is that you stay in as long as you are in that level of school but you would have to reapply/change when entering middle school.

    It is definitely a tricky dance with the school administration regarding IQ testing. Best of luck! Please do update us on how it turns out and what happens.

  117. what bothers me about the OLSAT is LAUSDs score cut offs and differentiating the kids cognitive abilities by title 1 vs. non-title 1. a NON-free lunch kid with a score of 93 is not gifted but a kid in the free lunch title 1 program with the same score IS gifted. score between 90-95 as a title 1 student = gifted. so maybe that will change in the next few months when more of the common core testing rolls out and an additional test score can help to pop over the NON-title one kid into the G&T program. until then, non-free lunch kids must score 95 and above. while their title 1 counter parts can score less and get in. it makes no sense to me as this is not an academic achievement test. as if it wasn’t hard enough to wade thru these waters.

  118. What I learned is that being identified gifted, or highly gifted does not slways mean a better choice for the child. A lot of kids outside the program do better than some kids in the program. It eventually comes down to the child and how hard he works without being push in a rigorous curriculum. My son was in SAS in 1st grade, gifted in 3rd, HG in HS &
    a lot of his former classmates do way better in a regular school than other kids in rigorous programs. These classmates were gifted too but opted to go to a regular school where their AP scores are just as high or sometimes higher than those in the gifted or HG program. Academic success in a rigorous curriculum has a lot to do with maturity and drive of the student themselves.

    • Agree completely, Mary! Last year the kid who got into Harvard University from North Hollywood High was NOT in the Highly Gifted Magnet there… Being in a gifted program doesn’t necessarily mean better anything.

  119. I don’t think these programs increases your chances of getting into ivy leagues. I know every year the last few years a few from HG got accepted into Harvard & other ivy leagues but I don’t know if they went to Harvard. I also know several kids in sas accepted in top schools. I also know several people who graduated from Ivy League and can’t find a job.

  120. My daughter is turning 3 their anything I can do in near future to ensure she can get in Balboa Magnet in first grade.She seems quite smart to us and we hear the same from her teachers.please guide.

    • Bottom line, keep doing what you are doing. Your daughter can not get into Balboa until 1st grade. So you can apply to kindergarten at a magnet, such as Valley Alternative and hope you don’t get in (and it’s no loss if you do). But there’s nothing you can do aside from that.

      Good luck.

      • Thanks for your reply..I m a little ignorant so I didn’t get when you said hope you don’t get in at valley this so I can get points?

        • You’ll be applying along with thousands of others. There will be people who apply and get in and are happy. Others are applying hoping NOT to get in, in hopes of getting rejection/wait list points. Then when you apply for Balboa in first grade, you’ll get 4 points for being rejected in kinder. If you have 4 points, that gives you a bit of a leg up. On the other hand, if you get into Valley Alternative, you can politely decline. You don’t get points, but if you don’t apply you won’t have any points if you don’t apply.

  121. Hello everyone,
    I have my 10yrs old daughter going to 5th grade at Balboa magnet school, what will be the best 3 choices for a magnet middle school with in North Hills, Granada Hills, Northridge, and Chatsworth?

    • I can not emphasize the need for FIT more clearly. What’s great for one student may not be right for another. There are at least 5-7 great middle schools with a few minutes of Balboa.

      Look at Holmes, Frost, Porter, Nobel, Lawrence, and don’t forget to look into the options of SAS as well.

  122. I wouldn’t stress about it. My son went to Balboa and he’s in highschool now. A lot of his friends went to regular school and are just as successful if not more. He did well in Balboa but he was performing better when he was in SAS, perfecting the yearly STAR tests, CAT, etc. Nothing to do w teachers it’s just Balboa has a lot of freedom and students are encouraged to be independent. SAS was structured and strict and my child needed it because he’s not a good listener.

  123. I would put her where she’s most comfortable, where she has good friends going too. This is what I did when I chose Porter over Lawrence.

  124. Is there any way to apply SAS program and be accepted after the new school year has started? How would you recommend doing it? My kid is in a school that is decent but it keeps getting worse and I am to the point where I can’t let my kid in a classroom with many who are repeating the grade or with behavior issues. Which school in north valley (Northridge, Granada Hills) with SAS program would you recommend applying for?

    • At this point, SAS would likely be on a space available basis. You’d need to call around and see if they have any spots available.

      Otherwise, you would be looking at a Spring application for next year.

  125. Would someone please share some information/feedback about the following middle schools in Northridge/Granada Hills area:

    Holmes (Magnet)
    Nobel (Magnet)
    Porter (Magnet)
    Henry (SAS)

    Does any of these schools provide after school childcare?

    How is the overall school environment? I assume that children will interact with other kids at school outside of their own classes, so is it a good idea to put a child in a great magnet program in a “not-so-good” school?

    Which school provides strong enrichment curriculum such as music, arts and sports?

    Which school is best in teaching math?

    One more question, I’m not sure if my daughter is qualified as “gifted”. I didn’t pay much attention to her test result when she was in 2nd grade. Although, on her report card, there was a GATE section, which stated: “Your child is enrolled in the Gifted program. Category: Intellectual Ability”. Does it mean she pass the test? If so, does it mean she qualifies for the SAS program at our neighborhood school (Henry)?

    Your input is greatly appreciated!

    • Teacher quality and homework amounts will vary greatly teacher to teacher, rather than schoolwide. Check for Beyond the Bell at each school. These are permissive programs, meaning your child can leave campus and staff ratios are very high.

      Each of the magnets has an honors track. In middle school students start tracking academically. Your daughter will either be in the honors track or the regular track. Each of those schools listed have an SAS as well. SAS is a separate program, aimed at gifted students, but sometimes mix with the honors magnet kids for class placement.

      Tours for magnets will start in September. Plan to tour all of them. Ask about teacher stability (how many years the staff has been around overall and by department). Talk to friends with kids the age of yours.

      I can say, I know families who have been VERY happy at each of the schools you listed with a variety of kids–different types of kids.

      I agree with environment–each of the schools will have ‘good kids’ and not so good kids. Make sure your kids surround themselves with kids who do their homework, think getting good grades is cool, and have busy schedules with extra curriculars.

  126. Nobel has YS (youth services) after school which is open until 6:00. Nobel’s YS also has organized sports that compete against other YS teams. Nobel has a music program and some art electives. They even have ceramics. The school is clean, children are polite in most instances, and there is very little bullying. Their overall school environment is great. Their math teachers, at least the ones we had, were not so great.

    Of course children interact with other kids outside their classes and outside their program. But please realize that whether magnet or regular school you will find good kids as well as not-so-good kids.

    • Please be aware Nobel has a tremendous amount of homework, a lot of it is busy work. Holmes is a good choice. I would pick Holmes because it is more relaxed. Don’t know about its youth programs.

      • My child went to Porter gifted because of
        it’s proximity to our house and loved it.
        He and 2 of hisclassmates are in noho hg now. All 3 schools are great choices.

      • My child went to Porter gifted because of
        it’s proximity to our house and loved it.
        He and 2 of hisclassmates are in noho hg now. All 3 schools are great choices. And schools can only do so much where a child’s behaviour is concerned. A child’s first teacher are his parents. His education starts at home.

      • Depending on what highschool or college you think your child will go to, in some cases, being used to a lot of homework can be good for them. Kids play 2-4 hrs of video games, 2 hours of sports, 1-2 hrs of tv/movie, texting, facebook, etc. In my opinion 1-2 hrs of homework everyday is not a bad thing. No or TV/fb on schooldays will teach them self control among other things.

        • Some kids get hw for 3-4 hours a day in middle school. A lot of it is busy work. Homework is important to a certain point, according to research. It is up to the parents to monitor electronic use, and not have the time after school be filled w / unnecessary busy work. Really, the goal of education is to produce knoweledge seekers. Many kids who are really bright and creative refuse to do hours of unnecessary hw. The quality of hw is what is important, not the amount.

          • My daughter just finished middle school in an SAS track. She was taking Geometry along with all honors courses. She definitely had nights with 3-4 hours. Very little was busy work. Other nights she had less. Combined with 10+ hours a week of music lessons, conservatory rehearsals, and practice, she could get it all done. She doesn’t play video games. She *does* have a deep love of binge watching some TV shows.

            They can get it all done, but some things have to give. She went to bed around 10 every night. And did homework/projects on the weekends.

            The good news is now that she’s in high school, it’s no more difficult there. And with a son who successfully survived college, I can see her work load now is preparing her for that as well.

  127. Thank you all for your prompt responses. Honestly, I was clueless about the whole system since I didn’t grow up in the US. Your comments and this website have been really helpful.

    May I please have your opinions on another issue…

    What’s the chance of getting into a Gifted Magnet such as Porter or even Lawrence with 0 point?

    I was concerned that if I put either Nobel or Holmes as my first choice (Porter/Lawrence as 2nd/ 3rd), and if it takes more than 12 points to get to my first-choice schools, I’d just lose all of the points for nothing. It sounds like Porter is a safer bet than the other non-gifted magnets. I know there’s also SAS program but my understanding is the odds to get to that program in a is even lower, unless it is your home school.

    My daughter will have 12 matriculation points. She might have another 4 PHBAO points. Our neighborhood school is PHBAO last year but as you know, the PHBAO status is subject to change at any time.

    • My daughter is attending Nobel MS through the SAS program. We tried the Magnet program first, but she only had 4 points going in and she was not selected. I was later told by the school (Nobel) that they had a 6 or 7 page wait list and I had a better chance of getting in through the SAS program. I applied through SAS and she was accepted. Her best friend was waitlisted but received notice of acceptance a week prior to the start of school.

      You might also look into Frost MS (Granada Hills) as it is also a Highly Gifted Magnet in Math Science and Technology. My daughter is also gifted in the categories of Intellectual Ability and High Achievement. She was accepted into Frost’s Magnet program but she preferred to attend Nobel through the SAS program because a number of her gifted friends were also attending, whether through Magnet, SAS, or home school.

  128. Thank you for that clarification, Angel. I have noticed the common and often mistaken use of “Highly Gifted” lately, here and elsewhere. Let’s clarify:

    GIFTED = meets LAUSD criteria for GATE programs (in one of multiple ways, including passing OLSAT, test scores/grades, performing arts, etc.)

    HIGH ACHIEVING = meets LAUSD criteria for GATE programs based on grades and test scores over time

    HIGHLY GIFTED = passed psychological services IQ testing with score of 99.9% or above (though Gifted kids with scores 99.5% and above can apply for Highly Gifted Magnets as well)

    Currently the LAUSD has only FOUR Highly Gifted schools, two elementaries (Eagle Rock and San Jose), one middle school (Portola) and one high school (North Hollywood). See the Highly Gifted section of the eChoices website.

    I think there is often confusion between “High Achieving” and “Highly Gifted.”

    Hope that clears things up!

    • In addition, those who just barely miss the Highly Gifted cutoff (99.8-99.5) are considered Highly Gifted Applicable. They can apply to the HG magnets, but will not be considered until every HG applicant is accepted. This means that students who are designated HG with 23 points all the way down to zero are admitted. Then, if (and only if) space continues to remain they start with HGA kids with 23 points and go back through the list.

  129. A few years back, they tested certain students in 2nd grade. I got a letter asking if the lausd psychologist can test my child for “gifted” identification. Then later they give you the results(if u ask for it). In our case my child’s result showed “intellectually gifted”. There were other criteria. I don’t know if they still do this.

    • I believe all students at Balboa have both OLSAT and the psychologist test in 2nd grade. How often do they have to be tested?

      • Students are tested. Typically once with the OLSAT. They are not retested. If someone wishes to push for the psychologist’s test, they can. And Balboa might be different, but I’m not aware of them testing everyone twice–especially when once tested, they are considered gifted for the term of the LAUSD careers.

  130. Thank you for the info. Good to know that it might be easier to get to Nobel SAS than through magnet. I always thought it was the other way around.

    Magnetangel…you mentioned the honors track. How will one be selected on either track in 6th grade when he or she just starts middle school? Using elementary school transcrips? Placement test?

    • If you apply via SAS, it’s pretty much assumed you’re in the honors track. If you apply to a standard magnet, you’ll want to mention the classes your child should be taking. If you haven’t had a middle or high schooler yet, after acceptance, there will be a programming meeting/assembly where you and/or your child will receive a list of classes and you sign up. Generally, a counselor is involved. For honors classes they may want to see report cards.

      And some kids may be honors for some classes and not others. That’s not unheard of either. Especially if Math or English isn’t their strong subject.

      • Thanks for your response. Will a “gifted” child automatically put in the honors track if applied through magnet? Can you opt out of the honors class?

        • I think that’s the USUAL plan, but it’s important if you have concerns either way that you contact the magnet coordinator after acceptance (late Spring) and discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If you wait and hope, your child will be scheduled and might have to be completely redone. On the other hand, by talking about it early, you can customize the schedule to best suit your child.

  131. Isn’t Lawrence also a highly gifted Magnet? I was considering Lawrence and Frost and I thought that one of them was a highly gifted Magnet. It’s been awhile since applying for the magnets and I can no longer recall.

    At any rate, gifted/ highly gifted is kind of a joke to me because i am fairly familiar with the process and the difference could depend on who the psych is who administered and interpreted the tests.

    • Lawrence is a gifted magnet. You might see it listed as a HG/G/HA magnet, but it’s a gifted magnet. It means it accepts students who are highly gifted, gifted, or high ability, but the only requirement is that the students are high ability or gifted.

      Highly gifted kids go to both gifted and highly gifted magnets and indeed sometimes don’t even go the gifted route at all. It depends on the kid.

      • I went to the LAUSD echoices site and searched for gifted magnet middle schools and there are only 3 of them, Porter, Lawrence and Sepulveda. Frost is not listed. Has the program changed?

        • Frost has an SAS (gifted). And a Math/Science magnet with an honors track. My mistake. I really should not post at midnite.

  132. I didn’t know psychologists interpret IQ tests like Raven’s in this case differently. I thought they have either a right or wrong answer.

  133. Raven test is a cheap IQ test because it can be administered to many students by one psychologist. The score is not interperted, but the number of correct answers and age of a student are coordinated w/ in what percentile a student falls in in the general population. Some experts compare a Raven test to an eye screening exam done by a nurse at school. If a student doesn’t do well on this eye screening exam, he is referred to an optemetrist. With iq test is the same– if you really want a more valid result, get an IQ test one on one w/ a psychologist. Here is an example, you can have a very bright kid take Raven and skip a page or two, because he is spacey. Obviously, the results will be inaccurate. Raven is a cheap way for the districts to identify some kids.

  134. Hi!

    We are new to the LAUSD system, and this is the first year that our kids are in the system. Now the it is time to apply to the Magnet programs, I have a question for those who know the system way better than I do. We do not have any points accumulated, and we have a 5th grader that will be going to middle school next year. From what I see, we would have 4 points as our local middle school (PHMS) is a PHBAO school. Our older child is already at PHMS, so our 5th grader would have 7 points to apply to PHMS, and 4 points anywhere else. Any chance he might be able to get in any magnets with 4 points, other than PHMS?

    Thanks in advance,



  135. My suggestion is to call the middle schools you are interested in and speak directly to the magnet coordinator. Ask the coordinator how many points were needed for a sixth grader to get in last year and the year before. And make sure you are clear on whether the points needed are either for minority or non-minority, depending on your status. Then you can use that information to help with your decision.

  136. Hi Judy!
    Thank you for the suggestions. I did email the Frost Magnet Coordinator, and she clarified a few things. Also, last year they took 33 students with 4 points. We also took the tour of their magnet this week. We will tour PHMS and a few more before we submit the application

  137. My son just started Kinder at his home school of Loren elementary in Northridge and I cant believe the stress already to navigate him through this process already 😦 anyway his home school is magnet program from 3-5 grade which I would be happy if he would get into that said its a point system so if he does not get in then we will have to send him to ” regular schooling at this same school” My question is where can I start applying to accumulate points for him so that when I do apply in 3rd grade at his home school he gets in ? If he does get in his home school in 3rd grade magnet based off points do they lose those points for middle school ? What questions should I be asking the magnet coordinators when I call because unless they share all the information they know I have no clue what to ask?

    • Every time you apply to any magnet school you get points. I do not know if he looses those points when he goes to middle school unless he’s considered a magnet student by then. There are different kinds of magnet programs…math & science, gifted, highly gifted, liberal arts or a full magnet.

      Sent from my iPhone


    • Find out what the magnet points for acceptance to Lorne actually is before you get too concerned.

      You will have to apply, but you might find out Lorne is a PHBAO school which is worth an automatic 4 points. You’ll have to then look at nearby schools to apply and hope you don’t get in. Valley Alternative is a possibility, but there’s always a chance you geet accepted.

      You could just apply to Lorne, and let them know you are willing to move him after the first of the school year, as very few parents want to deal with the stress of moving a child after the first day of school.

      In fifth grade, you will be applying for sixth grade. Coming from a magnet, you will receive 12 points for matriculation. You won’t need the potential of 12 points from the wait list–because you’re already in a magnet. No loss there.

  138. I don’t think it’s fair that our kids have to be certain age to enter certain grade.I think each kid is different and we can’t just follow what statistics show.My question is there any private school that would take kids based on their KG readiness and not the cut off in Northridge area or 10 miles radius from there.

    • I appreciate your concern, Aahasha. However, after answering questions on this and other blogs for the last decade or so, I realize that the separation of what is appropriate and what is just out there is a slippery slope. What starts out as four year olds just a month shy of five evolves into parents of three year olds who can read. Parents choosing what is ‘ready’ would be a mistake.

      The state cut offs are indeed frustrating to parents of fall babies, but in the decade between my son’s kindergarten entrance and my daughter’s entrance, an entire year’s curriculum had moved down. It’s done so again. It’s very difficult to imagine children being able to handle both the academics and the behavior. And it’s not fair to make them.

      You might have luck with some private schools, but most of the ones I’m familiar with want students to be 5 turning 6 (even holding back summer birthdays).

      You will have to be in private school through kindergarten and first grade as the law has two stages. After that, it’s up to a school.

      Good luck.

      • I used to think like you but I have since changed my mind. My child is extremely smart and was grades ahead of his classmates. Now my child is in highschool and I am so thankful that I did not choose to advance him in grade when he was younger. Older teens have likes and experiences a 1 year younger teen may not be ready to hear or exposed to. Some doctors at my work purposely hold their child back a year even when they are ready for many good reasons.

        • Great points, MJ.

          While the issues of early elementary seem academic, the issues for high school end up on the social/extra curricular part of the equation. My son went away to college at 17 (November baby), so he needed a permission slip to go on his overnight trip with his professor and a physics class. We thought it was amusing.

          My daughter is 14. Her best friend is 13. And now they’re in HS with boys/men who are 18, some working toward 19. I’m not sure I want either of the girls getting rides or hanging out with young men that much older.

    • They’re both magnets. One is a gifted magnet. The other is a math/science magnet. The M/S magnet will have an honors track that will be for gifted and high achieving kids.

      I’ve know families that have had happy and healthy graduates of both programs.

      What did you think when you toured?

      • We ended up touring Patrick Henry and liked it a lot. Decided not to do Porter. Now considering Nobel also but we didn’t tour it so may drop by tomorrow. I want to know if it’s hands on project based learning like Henry. It’s all very overwhelming and confusing. Application due Friday! 😱

        • Good luck. This is the first time in 20 years I don’t have to submit an application. I’ve been on the e-choices site trying to trouble shoot for others, but it’s so weird to think we’re done with this whole magnet thing.

  139. My daughter is turning 2 years old in August, I want her to go to Balboa gifted magnet. Do I need to apply this year or I’m too late . Or can I get in with someone else address

    • Enjoy your daughter for a few more years. While you will need to apply for her in first grade, you’ll have to worry about finding a kindergarten for her before you can apply to Balboa. And whether you were joking about an address, since it’s a magnet, you will need to accrue points to get in, it is not a residential school.

  140. I saw that Granada Hills High School bought the old Pinecrest. Does that mean they can take more people? A small wait list?

    • Granada is well over 4000 kids (some say closer to 5). The old Pinecrest site is home to iGranada, their online campus. Same degree, but online classes. Access to after school clubs and sports, but this is an online school.

      I suspect that short of taking over an entire shopping center, there will always be several thousand kids on that wait list.

    • Granada is well over 4000 kids (some say closer to 5). The old Pinecrest site is home to iGranada, their online campus. Same degree, but online classes. Access to after school clubs and sports, but this is an online school.

      I suspect that short of taking over an entire shopping center, there will always be several thousand kids on that wait list.

  141. Hello All,
    I am a mother to a soon-to-be 4 year old. We are planning to move to Porter Ranch [Northridge, 91326] solely because we would like our kids to begin schooling at Porter Ranch Community School. [Beckford was our initial choice but no housing inventory for the past 5 months]. The PRCS school ranking is very good until middle school. However, that area’s designated high school is Chatsworth High that has a relatively poor ranking. My husband and I grew up in India and are completely new to the school systems here and are unsure about how to pick a good high school. We were asked to consider Magnet schools when the time comes. But are not sure which ones to even begin considering.

    Our home purchase plans are entirely dependent on our options for High Schools in Porter Ranch. Any guidance from you is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi MrsJ,

      Please buy a home where you find a home you love. While you have a 4 year old, so much can happen in a decade (principals change, teachers retire, families move) that schools that are strong in one area may not be what you are looking for 10 years from now.

      Because of magnets, SAS, and open enrollment programs, along with declining LAUSD enrollment, the opportunities in a decade will be very different. In addition, boundaries can change. There are too many variables to try to plan a 4 year old’s final trajectory for HS.

      Good luck.

      • You make a good point. Our only choice as of now is to go by what we know as it stands today. Getting into a zone where all schools are desirable seemed like the safest decision to make without having to worry about open enrollment or Magnet applications. But that area [Beckford, Nobel, Granada] just does not seem to have any properties for sale anymore 😦

        • The biggest real estate season of the year is just getting underway. If that’s where you want to live, be patient.

          We’re not really set up to discuss the real estate aspects, but definitely talk to your realtor for more info.

  142. Hello I’m new here. I missed out on applying for some inde charters. But applied to 16 other charters and only magnet school: Community Magnet Charter which we did not get in (replied we’re on waitlist). We “cast our net” in the surrounding 10 mile radius and my (kinder to be) daughter only got in Beckford. (7 miles from our home). Apparently we missed any tours. Although i can’t find in their website when those tours were done. And they have no orientation, nor do we get to meet her teacher before the first day of school… where they just wisk her off from the auditorium. Suffice to say I’m apprehensive. Yet don’t want to miss the opportunity of her attending a highly regarded school.
    Our only other recourse is for her to continue where she’s been since she was 10 months old. Because they do have a kindergarten program there. We feel torn for her to attend Beckford for possibly just one year or continue where she’s familiar. It’s just I feel rather awkward asking for any tests or vouch, that can lead my child leaving the school I just won to get into. Because isn’t one supppse to submit to eChoices in October?
    FYI my resident school on GreatSchools shows as 74% Hispanic. And we are (Hispanic) minority. And want her to attend a more diverse school and can obtain better education displaying higher test scores.
    I’m also concerned in loosing points if we do not reapply to Community or add Balboa to our choice. How does that work? I hear any accumulated points don’t transfer from your first choice.

    • Why would she attend Beckford for only one year?

      Community does not utilitze points, nor does Beckford, so whether you apply to those or accept a placement there, your points are intact.

      And while this is your first kindergartener, the ‘wisk her off’ from the auditorium is pretty much par for the course. It was a real shocker when my son went to kindergarten years and years ago. My daughter’s elementary allowed parents on the kinder yard where the teachers were listed, but definitely weren’t in the room. Many schools don’t allow parents to know which teacher their child gets before school starts because sadly parents have caused so much grief demanding a particular teacher that few schools want to deal with an office full of parents wanting to change teachers.

  143. Hi everyone,
    We applied for Granada High School and my daughter has been placed on a waiting list. I’m assuming there is a slight chance of her getting in.
    What other High Schools would you recommend in the Northridge area?

  144. My daughter got into Granada hills high. I’ve seen so many bad reviews and complaints about the administration and staff. There seems to be mostly complaints about it being too strict, particularly with dress code. That detention is given out left and right, and that the girl’s dress code is way more strict than the boys. The complaints have really started to worry me. Her home school is North Hollywood SAS, she is currently in SAS at Walter reed. Has anyone heard about this? Is she better off going to North Hollywood SAS? She aspires to get into an ivy league.

    • There are definitely drawbacks to going to Granada. It’s incredibly crowded on top of the complaints you have listed. My daughter got in and weighed her options, and chose to go elsewhere. That said, many of her childhood friends from elementary school attend Granada and appreciate the option of summer school courses to get ahead and the course availability at all levels. There is a reason that SO many kids are on that waitlist. That said, many kids thrive at NoHo. Neither school would have a lock on getting your child into an Ivy, or any college for that matter. Hopefully you have toured both and gotten a vibe about how your child will be taught and counseled. If you haven’t, call each counselor and ask for a few minutes of your time. Counselors (principals and magnet coordinators, too) change, but see what type of vibe you get. My daughter has ended up at Van Nuys and has loved everything about being there and never regretted turning down Granada.

      • Thank you so much for your response! I think tours are a good idea. She got into a private school, but they didn’t place her in honors, so we chose to go a different route. At Granada she is enrolled in honors and AP classes for 9th, so it seemed like a better advantage.

    • It depends on who your daughter is. If a strict dress code will suppress her self expression, I would consider other choices. Also consider the general ambience of the school. Is strictness=conformity, lack of creativity and freedom? GH is ranked really high. My son got in through 2 lotteries and we decided to go with another school( private). We just didn’t feel the school’s atmosphere was the right fit for him. Go with your gut feeling!! Check out tge school again! Best of luck!!

  145. Hello,
    My daughter is graduating from Nobel Middle school this year, she is there best on the magnet program and she is just classified in the GATE program, my question is what is the best High schools in the area, I am applying for Granada high school and North Hollywood magnet school, which other schools I should put into my considerations, we live in North Hills, CA 91343.

  146. Hi. I just moved to Granada Hills and enrolling my daughter in second grade at El Oro Way Charter Elementary School in Granada Hills. Which afterschool program should I pick? YMCA after school care or Beyond the Bell? Has anyone heard anything about these programs? Has anyone sent their daughter or son to these programs?

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