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Pleased Parents, Good Data Helped Win Broad Prize

A high degree of parent satisfaction and a thorough data collection system helped Long Beach Unified School District win the Broad Prize. National judges met with a diverse group of parents from several Long Beach schools during their recent visit. "One reviewer said he had never seen a happier, more satisfied group of parents," said Nancy Wolfe, a parent who met with evaluators. Her children attend Hill Classical Middle School and Wilson Classical High School, both visited by the judges. "Over the past five or six years there’s been tremendous innovation at both schools," Wolfe said. "The big thing at Hill is the eight class periods, with double blocks of time. At both schools, the kids who need more help in math and English are getting that extra assistance. I couldn’t be more proud that my kids are going to those two schools." The rigorous judging of finalists also called for 20,000 pieces of information on student achievement – a daunting task for any school district, but a manageable one for Long Beach. "One of the criteria setting us apart from our highly qualified competitors was our data collection system," said Deputy Superintendent Dorothy Harper, who attended the award ceremony in New York. "We received high praise for the work our Research Department does." The district has worked hard in recent years to develop online data systems that give teachers valuable feedback, allowing them to monitor and adjust instruction well before final exams. Broad Foundation judges said they were impressed by the Research Office’s rapid response to schools that request help accessing and interpreting the data that drives crucial decisions about teaching and learning. The Broad Foundation also has provided grant money to support the school district's Malcolm Baldrige quality improvement efforts. Baldrige methods are used by the nation's most successful businesses. The Baldrige approach includes a strong emphasis on data-based decision making.