CMS Wins 2011 Broad Prize for Urban Education 
 

The winner of the 2011 Broad Prize for Urban Education—the large, urban school district that has shown the greatest student academic gains nationally—is Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina. Watch principals react to the announcement.  Click here to view the photo gallery.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced today.  As the winner of the country’s largest education award for school districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will receive $550,000 in college scholarships for its high school seniors. Three finalist school districts will also each receive $150,000 in scholarships for their students.

 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined philanthropist Eli Broad and John Legend, GRAMMY® award winner and education reform activist, at the Library of Congress to announce the winner, which was selected by a bipartisan jury of seven prominent leaders from government, education, business and public service, including three former U.S. secretaries of education.

The $1 million Broad (rhymes with “road”) Prize is an annual award that honors the four large urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while narrowing achievement gaps between income and ethnic groups. The money goes directly to graduating high school seniors for college scholarships.   

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a model for innovation in urban education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “It has taken on the tough work of turning around low-performing schools, created a culture of using data to improve classroom instruction, and put a laser-like focus preparing students for college and careers.”

More than half of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s students are African-American or Hispanic, and more than half are eligible for subsidized lunches.

The three other finalistsBroward County Public Schools and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, both in Florida, and the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso, Texas—will each receive $150,000 in college scholarships. 

All four districts have previously been finalists for the award. Charlotte-Mecklenburg was a Broad Prize finalist in 2004 and 2010; Miami-Dade County was a finalist in 2006, 2007 and 2008; Broward County was a finalist in 2008 and 2009; and Ysleta was a finalist last year.

“By creatively supporting the most challenged schools with dollars and people and by empowering teachers to tailor instruction to student needs, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has produced truly impressive urban student achievement gap closures ,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards The Broad Prize. “We congratulate everyone—teachers, administrators, parents, students and the entire community—involved in the district’s success.”

Among the reasons Charlotte-Mecklenburg stands out among the 75 largest urban school districts in America:

  • Narrowed ethnic achievement gaps. In recent years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has narrowed achievement gaps between African-American and white students in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle and high school). For example, from 2007 to 2010, achievement gaps between African-American and white students decreased by 11 percentage points in high school reading. In addition, Charlotte-Mecklenburg narrowed achievement gaps between Hispanic and white students in math at all school levels, and in middle and high school reading. 

 

  • Narrowed ethnic achievement gaps faster. In recent years, the pace at which Charlotte-Mecklenburg narrowed achievement gaps between African-American and white students was among the fastest third of North Carolina districts in elementary and high school reading and math. In addition, the pace at which Charlotte-Mecklenburg narrowed achievement gaps between Hispanic and white students was among the fastest third of North Carolina districts in math at all school levels and in middle and high school reading.

 

  • Boosted percentage of low-income students performing at high levels. In recent years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg increased the percentage of low-income students who performed at the highest achievement level (Level IV) in middle and high school reading and math faster than other North Carolina districts. For example, between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of low-income students performing at the highest achievement level increased an average of 6 percentage points per year in high school math compared with an average of 2 percentage points per year for other North Carolina districts.

 

  •  Demonstrated strong college readiness levels. In 2010, 62 percent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s African-American seniors participated in the SAT exam. This marked the highest SAT participation rate for African-American seniors among all 75 large urban school districts eligible for The Broad Prize. 

Given changes in urban and suburban demographics over the last decade, The Broad Foundation narrowed the eligibility and selection requirements for The Broad Prize this year to ensure an equal comparison of large urban school districts. As a result, 75 districts that serve significant percentages of low-income and minority students were automatically eligible and considered for The Broad Prize. Districts cannot apply for or be nominated for this award. 

For a full electronic press kit, including additional student outcomes, policies and practices that made Charlotte-Mecklenburg stand out among the largest districts in the country, as well as for details on all the finalists, please visit www.broadprize.org.