Start Now with 100 Free Questions
Tell us about your experiences with this school district.

Houston ISD Vanguard Magnet and Neighborhood Programs

Houston Independent School District (HISD) Vanguard Gifted and Talented (G/T) programs are for students who have been identified as potentially gifted or talented in intellectual ability, creativity, or leadership.

The Houston ISD Vanguard serves both profoundly gifted kids, kids scoring in the 99th percentile on an IQ-like test and also very bright kids, kids scoring in the 90th to 96thth percentile on an IQ test.

100 Free Gifted Practice Questions

Privacy Protected - We do not sell or share your information with anyone.By submitting you agree to's terms of use.

Types of Houston ISD Vanguard Programs

The Houston ISD Vanguard Program offers two types of gifted programs.

Program Overview

The Vanguard program was established to ensure that gifted and talented students are provided with a learning environment that nurtures their abilities and stimulates their intellectual curiosity. The program is designed to cater to the unique academic needs of these students and to challenge them beyond what is provided in the standard curriculum.

Admissions Process

Admission to the Vanguard program is competitive and is based on a combination of factors. These typically include standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, parent input, and student work samples. The selection process aims to identify students who demonstrate or have the potential for high performance capability in intellectual, creative, or artistic areas, and show an unusual leadership capacity or excel in specific academic fields.

Program Structure

Vanguard programming is offered in two primary formats: Vanguard Magnet and Vanguard Neighborhood programs.

  • Vanguard Magnet programs are school-wide models for entire schools dedicated to serving gifted students. The schools feature an environment that promotes a culture of respect for all learners’ diversity and unique abilities.
  • Vanguard Neighborhood programs are available in non-Vanguard Magnet schools, where gifted students are served in the general population but receive differentiated instruction and resources.


The Vanguard program helps students to develop their critical thinking skills, creativity, and leadership abilities. The program also promotes an environment of academic rigor and intellectual curiosity, where students are encouraged to question, evaluate, and think critically about information.

Support Services

In addition to the specialized curriculum, HISD provides support services for G/T students and their families. These services might include counseling, access to extracurricular activities designed for gifted students, and resources for parents of gifted children.

Please note that the specifics of the program may change over time, so it’s always a good idea to directly contact HISD or visit their website for the most current information.

Vanguard Magnet

The Vanguard Magnet program is designed to meet the needs of G/T students in grades K-12 by providing an environment for students to work with their cognitive peers. The Vanguard Magnet Program is designed for G/T students who excel in general intellectual ability in combination with creative/productive thinking and/or leadership ability.

Vanguard Neighborhood

The Vanguard Neighborhood programs are designed to meet the needs of G/T students in grades K-12 at their neighborhood (zoned) schools. Both Vanguard Magnet and Vanguard Neighborhood programs provide a differentiated curriculum by modifying the depth, complexity, and pacing of the general school program. The Vanguard Neighborhood program is designed for G/T students who excel in general intellectual ability, in combination with creative/productive thinking and/or leadership ability.

Students who have met the criteria for accelerated learning and are identified as gifted and talented are placed with highly effective teachers that are GT certified. The difference between the HISD 10 Vanguard Magnet Elementary schools are the activities, enrichment, and projects the students are involved in.

The admissions criteria are the same for Vanguard Magnet and Vanguard Neighborhood programs. Students can only be tested once, either at a Vanguard Magnet school or a Vanguard Neighborhood school. If a student is tested by both schools, the first test administration will be used to determine G/T identification. The Advanced Academics Department conducts the admission committee meetings for both programs.

All Vanguard Magnet schools in the Houston ISD Vanguard Program participate in the entering kindergarten G/T testing program. If a student applies to the Vanguard Magnet program, qualifies, and does not receive a space in a Vanguard Magnet school, that student may apply and submit the G/T identification matrix and the G/T status report to the Vanguard Neighborhood program in the school he/she attends to receive G/T services.

What is the Curriculum in the Houston ISD Vanguard Programs?

The Vanguard curriculum is differentiated, providing a depth and complexity that goes beyond the standard curriculum for Houston ISD. It’s designed to nurture the unique abilities of gifted students, fostering their intellectual curiosity and helping them reach their highest potential.

  • Research Inquiry Skills: Students are taught to formulate research questions, plan their research strategies, and evaluate information critically. They learn to seek out diverse sources, discern fact from opinion, and synthesize information to create well-informed conclusions.
  • Scholarly and Organizational Behaviors: The program emphasizes the development of scholarly behaviors like perseverance, intellectual curiosity, and integrity. It also fosters organizational skills, teaching students to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and work towards long-term goals.
  • Complex, Creative and Relevant 21st Century Skills: Vanguard students are encouraged to use technology and digital media strategically and capably. They engage with complex concepts and apply their learning to real-world problems, fostering creativity, adaptability, and other essential skills for the 21st century.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Integrated Learning: Students learn to analyze complex problems, think critically, and develop innovative solutions. This approach is integrated across all subject areas, encouraging students to draw connections between different fields of study and view problems from multiple perspectives.
  • Independent and Collaborative Skills: While the program encourages independent thinking and self-directed learning, it also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Students learn to respect diverse perspectives, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively to achieve common goals.
  • Community Service: Service-learning opportunities allow students to connect their academic learning to real-world issues in Houston communities. Through community service in Houston, students develop empathy, civic responsibility, and an understanding of how they can contribute positively to society.
  • Advanced Level Project and Product Creation: Vanguard students are encouraged to engage in advanced-level projects that require high-level thinking, planning, research and presentation skills. These projects allow students to dive deeply into topics of interest, create original products or solutions, and present their work professionally.

Vanguard offers an accelerated and enriched program that is individualized to meet the diverse needs of all of the students in one class. Students typically study interdisciplinary units that emphasize higher-level thinking skills, problem-solving, and creativity. The Vanguard program requires that your child be tested. Parents should use the Vanguard application, available online or through a paper application at the school.

For more information, visit the HISD page on the gifted program.

Are you ready to start preparing your child for the Houston ISD Vanguard Programs? Try out Testing Mom’s great test prep and tutoring services by downloading our 100 Free Questions today!

100 Free Gifted Practice Questions

Privacy Protected - We do not sell or share your information with anyone.By submitting you agree to's terms of use.

Tell us about your experiences

See if supports your child’s test by your school district. If you don't see your child's school district listed, check with us! We have practice for other tests as well.

Need help? - Contact Support