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One is not necessarily better than the other. They're different programs.
Magnet programs originated as a desegregation program to integrate neighborhood schools. In order to create programs that parents wanted, they created themes that interest families: Math/Science, Music, and Law and government. In addition, there are gifted magnets that require a student be tested and receive a gifted designation. Gifted magnets are the only magnets that require a student be tested.
SAS were created when families grew increasingly frustrated by not being able to get into *gifted* magnets due to limited availability. A School for Advanced Studies allows students to learn at a more advanced level. Unlike magnets, there are no busses.
Not all magnets are gifted, but every magnet will be able to accommodate gifted students. In middle and high school, there will be honors track and regular tracks at all magnets. All SAS kids have been identified as gifted and will be taught as such.
Magnet applications are due in December. You can only apply to one magnet. You can apply to as many SAS programs as you wish. To cover their bases, most parents will apply to both programs and wait and see where they get in.
When it comes to choosing between a magnet and an SAS, you have to look at the programs and decide which one appeals to you.
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