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10 April 2014

Gwinnett County Up for $1 Million Prize for Reducing Achievement Gap Among Students of Color

Wednesday, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced Gwinnett County Schools were one of two finalists for the foundation's $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education.

(Gwinnett County Schools named a finalist for $1 million prize for reducing achievement gap among low-income and minority students. Image courtesy Gwinnett County Schools)
The Broad (rhymes with "road") Prize for Urban Education is an annual $1 million award —the largest education prize in the country— that honors urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.

Gwinnett is competing with Orange County, Florida for the top prize -- $750,000 in college scholarships for graduating high school seniors. The runner-up will receive $250,000 in college scholarships. The winner will be announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on 22 September in New York City.

This year's finalists were selected from among 75 of the largest districts in the country by a review board of 13 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, civil rights advocacy organizations, think-tanks and foundations. The review board evaluated publicly available academic achievement data that were compiled and analyzed by RTI International, a leading global research institute.

School districts cannot apply or be nominated.

In selecting the finalists, the review board evaluated school district data including SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement participation rates and scores, graduation rates, results of state assessments in reading, math and science, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, student demographics including poverty, state test rigor, per pupil expenditures and district enrollment. The data analysis included more than 75 measures of how well a district has performed in the last four years in terms of raising student achievement, particularly for low-income students and students of color.

A greater percentage of African-American students are reaching advanced academic levels in Gwinnett County than in other districts in their respective states. Additionally, college-readiness in the Gwinnett County School District has improved. Between 2010 and 2013, Gwinnett County's participation rates and average scores on the SAT simultaneously increased for African-American students.

"The review board has sent a clear message: In too many urban school systems, students aren't getting the quality of education they deserve," said Bruce Reed, president of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards The Broad Prize. "We congratulate the educators, staff, parents and students in Gwinnett County. Every child should be able to attend good public schools that open the doors to the American dream."