HOUSTON -

Getting into HISD's top magnet schools is often harder than getting into Harvard. An academic research firm called General Academics here in Houston crunched the numbers and found roughly 45,000 non-zoned students applied for less than 20,000 spots.

Allison Perry feels rather lucky.

"We always kinda say we won the lottery," she said.

They didn't win any money, but the Perry family's daughters did win a spot at one of HISD's most selective elementary schools.

"We applied to seven or eight schools at that time and got wait-listed everywhere except at River Oaks (Elementary), which was our top choice," Perry said.

It wasn't an easy process for their oldest daughter Lilliana. The first step was scoring high enough on the entrance test to qualify as gifted and talented. Next, get on a waiting list for admission. And finally, win a lottery drawing for a spot at the school.

Shelby Joe owns General Academics, a Houston-based educational tutoring and research company. He got his hands on never before seen data from HISD, showing just how hard it is to get into some of the district's magnet schools.

"There is the average acceptance rate for magnet schools across all of HISD was about 40 percent. One-third of those schools had rates that were significantly lower than that," Joe said.

Eight of the 10 most selective magnet campuses are elementary schools.

Top 10 Most Selective HISD Schools Overall:

  1. Twain Elementary
  2. Roberts Elementary
  3. Poe Elementary
  4. Horn Elementary
  5. River Oaks Elementary
  6. Lovett Elementary
  7. Pin Oak Middle School
  8. Travis Elementary
  9. Pershing Middle School
  10. T.H. Rogers K-8

HISD has 96 magnet programs. Your chances of getting in the top ten schools, according to General Academic, are less than 10 percent.

"In general there is a pretty direct correlation between the popularity of these particular schools and a couple of factors," Joe said. "One being the communities that they are in, and the other being test results. So first of all they tend to be in relatively well to do neighborhoods. We're looking at River Oaks, West University, Bellaire, Houston Heights."

For the Perry family they are very thankful to have their girls in the magnet program at River Oaks Elementary. And she has some advice for parents.

"Start early, just investigating, touring, talking to other parents at the playground. Have options and apply to as many places as you think you could get to."

Her younger daughter Delaney also eventually got in too.

"At our school 25 percent of the spots are reserved for siblings," she said.

Top 10 Most Selective HISD Elementary Schools:

  1. Twain Elementary
  2. Roberts Elementary
  3. Poe Elementary
  4. Horn Elementary
  5. River Oaks Elementary
  6. Lovett Elementary
  7. Travis Elementary
  8. T.H. Rogers K-8
  9. Kolter Elementary
  10. Harvard Elementary

Click here to see how the ratings were compiled and the lists of the top most selective middle and high schools.