Merit Awards Program

Magnet School of Merit Awards recognize member magnet schools/programs that demonstrate a high commitment to academic standards, curriculum innovation, desegregation/diversity efforts, specialized teaching staffs, and parent and community involvement.

The 2016-2017 Merit Award categories are:

  • School of Excellence – New & Emerging
  • School of Excellence – Program Within-a-School*
  • School of Excellence – Whole School Magnet
  • School of Distinction – New & Emerging
  • School of Distinction – Program Within-a-School*
  • School of Distinction – Whole School Magnet

*Program Within-a-School programs must consist of at least twenty percent (20%) of the student population involved in the program OR a minimum of 200 students.

The Magnet School of Excellence is the top merit award category and is only awarded to a select group of magnet schools. The Magnet School of Distinctionis the second highest award of recognition. To receive a merit award member schools must submit an application that is scored by a panel of educators. Cash awards are provided to the top Magnet Schools of Excellence.


To be eligible in the participation in the Magnet Schools of America Merit Awards Program, the following apply: (1) must be a member in good standing of Magnet Schools of America for 2016-2017 by Tuesday, November 1, 2016; and (2) must have implemented New and Emerging Magnet School category (designed for magnet schools in their second or third year of implementation).  


The Dr. Ronald P. Simpson School of Excellence Award is considered the most prestigious award for magnet schools in the nation. It is given to only one school in the Magnet School of Excellence category. This award recognizes the work of Dr. Ronald P. Simpson, one of the founding members of Magnet Schools of America (MSA). Dr. Simpson worked in the Kansas City Missouri Public School System and served as the second MSA president from 1994-1995. Dr. Simpson made a positive impact on magnet schools and this award was established to commemorate his outstanding contributions to Magnet Schools of America. The Dr.Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award includes a $5,000 cash award presented to the winning school.

In 2006, Magnet Schools of America created national awards for elementary and secondary Magnet Schools of Excellence, both include cash awards of $2,500. The elementary Magnet School of Excellence award is sponsored by Magnet Schools of America and is named after Dr. Donald Waldrip, founder and MSA's first Executive Director.

Established in 2006, the New and Emerging Magnet School of Excellence Award is recognized nationally for its leadership and commitment to magnet schools, the Washington, DC Law Firm Hogan Lovells is the sponsor of this $1,000 cash award. 

Top awards will be announced during the Red Carpet After-Party at MSA's 35th National Conference on Magnet Schools in Los Angeles, CA.







Questions, please email Judy Shen at