WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The winner of the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education is the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the only district in the country to win the award twice, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced today. As the winner of the award that recognizes the large urban school district that has made the greatest improvement in student achievement in recent years, HISD will receive $550,000 in college scholarships for its high school seniors.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined philanthropist Eli Broad at the Library of Congress to announce the winner, selected by a bipartisan jury of eight prominent leaders, including two former U.S. secretaries of education, a former senator and two former governors.
The $1 million Broad (rhymes with "road") Prize is an annual award that honors the four large urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color. The 75 largest urban school districts in America are automatically eligible for the award each year.
"Our goal as a nation is to ensure every child has the skills and knowledge to succeed in life. For years, Houston has demonstrated its commitment to doing just that," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Houston's unwavering focus on empowering teachers and principals, raising expectations for educators and students alike, and improving opportunities for all students is an example for other public school systems across the country and evidence that success is possible."
This year's three finalists—the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina, and the San Diego Unified School District—will each receive $150,000 in college scholarships. This is the second year Corona-Norco Unified has been a finalist and the first time for San Diego Unified and Cumberland County.
Houston first won the Broad Prize in 2002, the award's inaugural year, and the district was a finalist in 2012, bringing its total prize winnings to $1.2 million in college scholarships for its students.
"Over the past decade, Houston has demonstrated its mission to improve student achievement, and the district's repeat win is a testament to the hard work and commitment of teachers, administrators, students, parents and the entire community," said Gregory McGinity, managing director of policy for The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards The Broad Prize. "There is no question that we still have a long way to go in this country until every student is prepared for a productive life after high school—even this year's winner and finalists would agree that they have more work to do. But today we are celebrating progress."
As the nation's seventh-largest school district, Houston Independent has more than 200,000 students—88 percent of whom are African-American or Hispanic and 80 percent of whom are low-income. Among the reasons Houston stands out among the 75 largest urban school districts in America:
- Outperformed peer districts in academic achievement. Following the adoption of more rigorous testing in 2012, Houston students exceeded expectations in most areas, particularly given the district's poverty rate. For example, the growth in the proportion of middle and high school Hispanic students achieving an advanced level in math and science from 2009 to 2011 was in the top 30 percent of all districts in Texas.
- Increased its graduation rate faster than other urban districts. Houston's graduation rate, as shown by the average of three nationally recognized graduation rate estimation methods, rose 12 percent between 2006 and 2009. On average, the 75 Broad Prize-eligible districts achieved an average 6 percent increase over the same time.
- Narrowed the achievement gaps for low-income and Hispanic students. Houston Independent School District narrowed the achievement gap between its low-income students and non-low-income students across the state by roughly 40 percent in middle and high school math and science. Houston also narrowed the achievement gaps between its Hispanic students and Texas' white students by more than 50 percent in high school math and science and more than 40 percent in middle school math and science.
- Improved college-readiness levels. Houston's SAT participation rate is two-thirds higher than the Texas average, and the district has the highest participation rate among urban districts around the country, particularly among its Hispanic and African-American students. In 2012, 87 percent of Houston students participated in the test, including 84 percent of Hispanic and 80 percent of African-American students. Houston also boasts the highest increase in participation in Advanced Placement (AP) exams for all students, particularly Hispanic students, whose participation increased at a rate five times higher than participation rate increases for Hispanic students at the 75 other Broad Prize-eligible districts.
For a full electronic press kit, including additional student outcomes, policies and practices that distinguished HISD, as well as for details on all of the finalists, please visit www.broadprize.org. Video of the four finalist school districts featuring b-roll and interviews with their superintendents is available at http://youtu.be/4APhLvK3Kqg.
The eight-member selection jury that chose this year's winner included:
- Henry Cisneros, former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development
- Christopher Dodd, former U.S. senator from Connecticut
- Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund
- Edward Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania
- Richard Riley, former U.S. secretary of education
- Donna Shalala, former U.S. secretary of health and human services
- Margaret Spellings, former U.S. secretary of education
- Andrew Stern, president emeritus of Service Employees International Union
The selection jury evaluated quantitative data on the finalists that consisted of publicly available student performance data compiled and analyzed by RTI International, one of the world's leading research institutes. In addition, the jury evaluated the four finalist districts' policies and practices, compiled following site visits conducted by a team of education practitioners led by RMC Research Corporation, an education consulting company. The site visits included classroom observations and interviews with administrators, teachers, principals, parents, community leaders, school board members and union representatives.
The 2013 finalists were selected this past spring by a review board of 17 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, think-tanks and non-profit organizations that evaluated publicly available student performance data.
As the winner of the 2013 Broad Prize, the Houston Independent School District will receive $550,000 in college scholarships for its high school seniors who graduate in 2014. Broad Prize scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate significant financial need and who have improved their grades during high school. Scholarship recipients who enroll in four-year colleges will receive up to $20,000 paid out over four years ($5,000 per year). Broad Prize scholars who enroll in two-year colleges will receive up to $5,000 scholarships paid out over two years ($2,500 per year). For more information on the scholarship program, please visit http://broadprize.org/scholarship_program/overview.html.
Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a philanthropy that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed. Bringing together top education experts and practitioners, the foundation funds system-wide programs and policies that strengthen public schools by creating environments that allow good teachers to do great work and enable students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. For more information, please visit www.broadeducation.org.
Note: An archived webcast of the event will be accessible today after 3 p.m. ET at www.broadprize.org. Photos of the event will be available on www.broadprize.org/mediacenter/photos/2013.html after 4 p.m. ET today.
Video with caption: "Video overview of the school district that won the 2013 Broad Prize and the three finalist school districts, with b-roll footage of schools and interviews with the school district superintendents. Includes footage of winner Houston Independent School District (Terry Grier) and finalists Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif. (Michael Lin); Cumberland County Schools, N.C. (Frank Till, Jr.);and the San Diego Unified School District (Cindy Marten)." Video available at: http://youtu.be/4APhLvK3Kqg
Image with caption: "Broad Foundation logo." Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090402/DC93389LOGO
SOURCE The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation