NEW YORK, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The winner of the 2010 Broad Prize is Gwinnett County Public Schools outside Atlanta, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced today. As the winner of the largest education award in the country, Gwinnett County Public Schools will receive $1 million in college scholarships for its high school students. The four finalist school districts will each receive $250,000 in scholarships for their students.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined philanthropist Eli Broad at the Museum of Modern Art to announce the winner, which was selected by a bipartisan jury of eight prominent leaders from government, education, business and public service, including three former U.S. secretaries of education.
The $2 million Broad (rhymes with "road") Prize is an annual award that honors the five large urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while narrowing achievement gaps between income and ethnic groups. The money goes directly to graduating high school seniors for college scholarships.
"Gwinnett County has demonstrated that an unwavering focus across a school system – by every member of the district and the community – can lead to steady student improvement and achievement," said Secretary Arne Duncan. "Districts across the country should look to Gwinnett County as an example of what is possible when adults put their interests aside and focus on students."
More than half of Gwinnett's students are African-American or Hispanic, and half are eligible for subsidized lunches.
The four finalists—Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina; Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland; and the Socorro Independent School District and the Ysleta Independent School District, both in Texas—will each receive $250,000 in college scholarships. Charlotte-Mecklenburg was previously a Broad Prize finalist in 2004, and Gwinnett County and Socorro were finalists last year. Montgomery County and Ysleta are first-time finalists.
"Gwinnett County's stable leadership and singular commitment to ensuring every student has the skills and knowledge to be successful in college and in life makes it a model for other districts around the country," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards The Broad Prize. "We congratulate the teachers, principals, administrators, parents and community members who collectively focus on high academic achievement for all students."
Among the reasons Gwinnett County stands out among the largest school districts in the country:
- Outperformed similar districts in Georgia. In 2009, Gwinnett County outperformed other districts in Georgia that serve students with similar family income levels in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle and high school).
- Narrowed achievement gaps. In 2009, achievement gaps between African-American and white students in Gwinnett County were among the smallest in Georgia in reading at all school levels and in elementary and middle school math. In addition, between 2006 and 2009, Gwinnett County narrowed achievement gaps between its Hispanic students and the state's white students in reading at all school levels and in middle and high school math.
- Achieved high SAT, ACT, AP participation rates. Between 2006 and 2009, participation rates rose for Gwinnett County's African-American and Hispanic students taking the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement exams.
- Higher percentage of students performed at advanced levels. In 2009, a greater percentage of Gwinnett County's African-American, Hispanic and low-income students performed at the highest achievement levels on the state reading and math assessments at all school levels compared with their counterparts statewide.
Each year, 100 of the largest school districts in America that serve significant percentages of low-income and minority students are automatically eligible for The Broad Prize. Districts cannot apply for or be nominated for this award.
For a full electronic press kit, including additional student outcomes, policies and practices that made Gwinnett stand out among the largest districts in the country, as well as details on all the finalists, please visit www.broadprize.org.
The selection jury that chose this year's winner included:
- Henry Cisneros, executive chairman of CityView companies, former president of Univision and former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development
- James B. Hunt, Jr., chairman of the board of the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy and former governor of North Carolina
- Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Roderick Paige, former U.S. secretary of education
- Richard W. Riley, former U.S. secretary of education and former governor of South Carolina
- Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. secretary of health and human services
- Margaret Spellings, executive vice president of the National Chamber Foundation and former U.S. secretary of education
- Andrew L. Stern, president emeritus of Service Employees International Union
The selection jury evaluated quantitative data on the finalists, consisting of publicly available student performance data compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm. In addition, the jury evaluated the five finalist districts' policies and practices, based on site visits, interviews with administrators, teachers, principals, parents, community leaders, school board members and union representatives and classroom observations. The site visits were conducted by a team of education practitioners led by RMC Research Corporation, an education consulting company.
Gwinnett County was selected as a finalist this past spring by a review board of 18 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, national education associations, think-tanks and foundations that evaluated publicly available student performance data.
Because Gwinnett County won this year's Broad Prize, its high school seniors who graduate in 2011 will be eligible for $1 million in college scholarships. Broad Prize scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate significant financial need and show a record of academic improvement during their high school career. 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, please visit: http://www.broadprize.org/scholarship_program/overview.html.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Broad Foundation's education work is focused on dramatically improving K-12 public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition. The Broad Foundation's Internet address is www.broadfoundation.org.
Note: An archived webcast of the event will be accessible on Oct. 19 at www.broadprize.org. Photos of the event will be available on the AP wire after 4 p.m. ET today.
SOURCE The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation