The Long Beach Unified School District this week was named as one of five finalists for the $1 million National Broad Prize for Urban Education, the largest education prize in the nation given to school districts. Long Beach is the first former winner since the prize began in 2002 to return to the competition as a finalist.
As a finalist, LBUSD will receive at least $125,000 in scholarships for graduating high school seniors and will now compete for a total of $500,000 in scholarships. In all, $1 million in scholarships goes to the finalists and top winner.
The annual award honors large urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps for poor and minority students.
LBUSD won the Broad Prize in the 2003-04 school year and was one of the top five finalists in 2002-03. If the school district wins the top prize this September, it will be the first school system in the nation to win the award twice.
“Long Beach again inspires the nation by believing in its children,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools for the Long Beach Unified School District. “We’re deeply moved and inspired by The Broad Foundation’s recognition and support of excellence in America’s public schools. Our heartfelt thanks go to our unsurpassed team of teachers, classified personnel and administrators, support staff, Board of Education members, Personnel Commissioners, parents, volunteers, business partners, local service clubs, philanthropic groups, clergy, veterans, local colleges and universities, retirees and many others.”
LBUSD also is the only school district in the nation to be nominated for the award during each year it was eligible to compete since the inception of the award in 2002. Once a school district wins the top award, it is not eligible to compete for three years.
“After decades of decline, American public education continues to struggle compared with other industrialized nations, yet Long Beach has proven that with hard work, it is possible to not only raise student achievement in our cities, but also to keep it up,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundation. “Other urban districts nationwide can learn a great deal from what is working in Long Beach.”
The five finalists were selected from a pool of 100 urban school systems. The year-long process draws on the expertise of education leaders, nationally prominent individuals from business and public service, and a team of dozens of data analysts and coordinators. The selection of the finalists and winner is a rigorous process that requires the analysis of thousands of pages of data, and hundreds of hours of school visits.
“Every year, The Broad Prize highlights urban school districts whose commitment to raising achievement for all students is helping more children reach and realize their potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “These districts are proving that every child, regardless of race, income, or zip code can learn and achieve to high standards. By shining the spotlight on such worthy examples,The Broad Prize helps show that progress in our most challenging, inner city schools is not only possible but already occurring all across the nation.”
School districts cannot apply for The Broad Prize. The 100 eligible districts are determined by The Broad Foundation, based on size, minority and low-income enrollment and urban designation by the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Broad Prize data analysis covers performance results on mandated state tests in reading and math for each district’s elementary, middle and high schools. A regression analysis is conducted to compare those results with the performance of other districts in the state that have similar low-income student populations. Additional data reviewed includes achievement gap closures, graduation rates, SAT and ACT scores and participation rates, and Advanced Placement exam passing and participation rates. All of the data for The Broad Prize is reviewed for all students in each district, as well as for low-income, African American, Asian and Hispanic subgroups.
Among the reasons the Long Beach Unified School District was chosen as a finalist:
* In 2006, Long Beach outperformed other California districts serving students with similar income levels in reading and math at all grade levels: elementary, middle and high school. Long Beach’s low-income, African-American and Hispanic student subgroups outperformed their peers in similar districts in reading and math at all levels.
* Long Beach is closing achievement gaps for Hispanics when compared to their white peers in high school reading, middle school math, and elementary school reading and math. In addition, the African American-white gap is closing faster than the state in middle school reading and math and in elementary school math.
* Since 2003, participation rates for African-American and Hispanic students taking the SAT and Advanced Placement exams have risen in Long Beach. At the same time, average SAT scores for African-American and Hispanic student subgroups are on the rise.
In the coming weeks, a team of experienced researchers and education practitioners will visit the five finalist districts to collect additional quantitative and qualitative data and to observe best practices in action. In summer 2007, The Broad Prize Jury, a group of 14 nationally prominent individuals, meets to determine the winner of the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education.
The winner of the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education will be announced September 18, 2007 at a press conference and celebratory luncheon at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The other four finalists are Bridgeport Public Schools, Conn., Miami-Dade County Public Schools, New York City Department of Education and Northside Independent School District in northwest San Antonio.
The Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by Edythe and Eli Broad, a renowned business leader who founded two Fortune 500 companies, SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home. Based in Los Angeles, The Broad Foundation’s mission is to dramatically improve K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition.
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