Gwinnett County Public Schools Is Winner of 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Edcuation
November 8, 2010
The Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation announced Gwinnett County Public Schools as the winner of the 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education on October 19. Established in 2002, the scholarship prize awards a $1 million prize to the winner and $1 million prize to be split evenly amongst the four finalists. The Broad Prize, which is the largest award in the United States given to school districts, is awarded to urban districts that demonstrate overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income minority students.
Gwinnett County Public Schools, located outside of Atlanta (GA), has narrowed achievement gaps between minority students and white students in reading at all school levels and in elementary and middle school math. Gwinnett County's African-American students ranked in the top 30 percent of the state for proficiency rates in reading and math at all school levels. In the past four years participation rates rose for African-American and Hispanic students taking the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement exams, increasing by nine percentage points between 2006 and 2009. In 2009 in Gwinnett, 99 percent of the schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), compared with 86 percent of schools in statewide.
"Gwinnett County has demonstrated that the 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 of Education Arne Duncan after announcing the winner. "Districts across the country should look at Gwinnett County as an example of what is possible when adults put their interests aside and focus on students."
Chosen as a finalist in 2009, Gwinnett County Public Schools found themselves in the winner's circle in 2010 thanks to their many achievements. Among those many achievements is its own rigorous curriculum known as the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) designed to be aligned with, and more challenging than, state standards. The district outperformed other Georgia districts in reading and math at all levels and has shown better than expected improvement than other state districts that serve students with similar family income levels. The effectiveness and in-depth participation of leaders on all levels provides immense support and effectively creates solutions to instructional challenges in the district. Gwinnett County's emphasis on closing gaps at a high level and not just raising performance at the minimum level makes them stand out above the competition.
The four finalists were: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina; Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland; Socorro Independent School District in El Paso (TX); and Ysleta Independent School District also in El Paso. All received $250,000 in prize money for scholarships. This year marked the first year that Ysleta and Montgomery County were finalists. This is the second year both Socorro, finalist in 2009, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, finalist in 2004, have won the $250,000 prize.
"It is a distinct honor for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school system's efforts and achievements to be recognized by the Broad Foundation," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. "Being named a Broad Prize finalist demonstrates that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district is headed in the right direction in reversing the downward trends in which so many urban districts are struggling. I am incredibly proud of the advances our district has already made and the progress we continue to make."
The selection jury for the Broad Prize winner consisted of eight prominent leaders from government, education, business and public service. This year's jury included: Henry Cisneros, Excutive Chairman of CityView companies 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; and Andrew L. Stern, President Emeritus of Service Employees International Union.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a venture philanthropy created to advance entrepreneurship nationwide for the common good in science, education and the arts. The Broad Foundation's focuses its education work on significant improvement in urban K-12 public education through better management, governance, competition and labor relations. For more information on the Broad foundation and the Broad prize for urban education, visit the website www.broadprize.org.