Two school districts awarded Broad Prize for urban education
This year, two school districts were awarded The Broad Prize for Urban Education. The annual award is given to large, urban districts that demonstrate strong overall student performance and success in reducing achievement gaps among low-income and minority students.
Orange County Public Schools in Florida and Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia were awarded this prize. The $1 million prize is split evenly between the districts and the money will fund college scholarships for high school seniors.
According to Bruce Reed, president of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation who sponsors the competition, the two districts share comparable demographics: both are diverse and among the largest districts in their county in terms of enrollment.
Chief executive officer and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools J. Alvin Wilbanks attributes the district’s success to effective education. Gwinnett County has focused on leadership development and providing teachers helpful information related to attendance and student achievement, to improve their instruction.
The districts high school seniors also have the highest SAT participation rate among eligible districts for The Broad Prize.
First-time finalist and winner Orange County in Florida has made remarkable gains in student achievement in recent years. The district has focused on centralizing curriculums and programs throughout the district so that educators spend less time getting new students up to speed, which often actually slows them down, says superintendent Barbara Jenkins.
The Broad Foundation tells us that the district has narrowed income and minority achievement gaps, improved college readiness and raised achievement among low-income middle school students.
The Broad Prize is a great award for public schools that work diligently to improve their student and teacher success. I hope that other schools strive to follow in the footsteps of Orange County and Gwinnett County Public Schools so we can narrow the achievement gaps in the US.