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LBUSD Honored in D.C.

The Long Beach Unified School District, recognized this week as one of the top urban school districts in the nation, will receive $125,000 in scholarships as a finalist for the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The top winner of the prize this year was the New York City Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings joined philanthropist Eli Broad at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to announce the winner. “We thank the Broad Foundation for the unprecedented national attention they’ve brought to Long Beach schools,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, LBUSD superintendent of schools. “Heartfelt thanks go to all of our employees, parents, volunteers and community supporters,” Steinhauser said. “Most of all, congratulations to our students, who have worked so hard and should feel proud of this high honor.” Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered the keynote address at a celebratory Broad Prize luncheon following the announcement, after remarks by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The $1 million Broad (rhymes with "road") Prize is an annual award that honors large urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students. The money goes directly to graduating high school seniors for college scholarships. Long Beach won The Broad Prize in 2003 and is the first former winner to return to the competition. Winners are ineligible for three years, making this year the first that Long Beach was again in the running. "Nothing is more important to the future of this country than giving young people the tools to succeed," said Secretary Spellings, before opening the envelope that revealed New York City was the top winner. "With the help of strong, innovative leadership, Broad Prize school districts are proving that if we raise our expectations, our children will rise to the challenge." Long Beach and the three other Broad Prize finalist districts - Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Northside Independent School District in San Antonio - each will receive $125,000 in college scholarships for graduating high school seniors. Long Beach will again be eligible next year for the 2008 Broad Prize. "Long Beach hasn’t rested on its laurels," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. "The district has sustained a level of high performance that is both an example and a motivator for struggling urban school districts nationwide." Reasons Long Beach stood out among large urban American school districts: Greater performance In 2006, Long Beach outperformed California districts serving students with similar income levels in reading and math at all grade levels: elementary, middle and high school, according to The Broad Prize methodology. Similarly, each of Long Beach's subgroups - low-income, African-American and Hispanic students - also outperformed their peers in comparable California districts in reading and math at all grade levels. Greater improvement Between 2003 and 2006, Long Beach showed greater improvement than other California districts serving similar income levels in middle and high school reading and math. In addition, Long Beach's low-income students showed greater improvement than their peers in similar California districts in math at all grade levels and in middle and high school reading. Closing achievement gaps Between 2003 and 2006, Long Beach narrowed achievement gaps between: • Hispanic students and their white peers in elementary school reading and math, faster than the equivalent statewide gap. • African-American students and their white peers in elementary and middle school reading and in elementary school math, faster than the equivalent statewide gap. The Broad Prize was started in 2002. In addition to Long Beach in 2003, previous winners include Boston Public Schools (2006), Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia (2005), Garden Grove Unified School District in California (2004) and the Houston Independent School District (2002).
HARD AT WORK -- National education experts came away impressed after four days of visiting schools and central offices recently to help determine whether the Long Beach Unified School District would win the National Broad Prize for Urban Education. The tour included Webster Elementary School, above, where students have made significant gains in achievement.