broad-prize-urban-ed.jpgThe Aldine Independent School District outside Houston has won the 2009 Broad Prize for Urban Education, the largest education award in the country, and will receive $1 million in college scholarships for graduating seniors, four out of five of whom come from low-income families.

Announced last week, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation prize honors the most consistent student achievement gains nationally in urban American school systems where once there were wide gaps in performance among minority and economically disadvantaged groups.

Aldine will receive $1 million in college scholarships for seniors graduating next spring, while the four other finalists —  Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Broward County Public Schools; Atlanta’s Gwinnett County Public Schools; Long Beach Unified School District in California; and Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas — will each receive $250,000.

At Aldine, outside Houston, four out of five students qualify for free and reduced-priced school lunch. Yet the district has shown some of the most consistent student achievement gains nationally in the past decade and has been recognized as one of the top five most improved urban American school systems in four of the past six years.

“Aldine has demonstrated that when an entire community and district work together with a singular focus on educating every child, they can succeed, even against the odds of poverty,” said Broad Foundation founder Eli Broad. “Their success holds valuable lessons for other urban districts trying to do the same.”

“Aldine shows us that it’s possible for a district facing tough circumstances to get excellent results,” said Secretary Arne Duncan, who opened up the envelope and announced the winner. “We need to highlight the success of Aldine and districts like it so that others can follow their examples and lift up all

Among the reasons Aldine stood out this year among large urban school

  • Outperformed other similar Texas districts. 
  • Demonstrated better performance by racial, ethnic and income subgroups. 
  • Narrowed the gaps between its African-American students and the state average for white students between 2005 and 2008, in particular, lowering by 14 percent the gap in middle school math.
  • Broke the predictive power of poverty. High student achievement is just as likely in a low-income Aldine school as it is in a non-low-income school.

This marks the third time in just eight years since The Broad Prize was started in 2002 that a Texas district has taken home the top honor.  The Houston Independent School District won The Broad Prize in 2002, and the Brownsville Independent School District took home the award last year. Previous winners also include the New York City Department of Education (2007), Boston Public Schools (2006), Norfolk Public Schools, Va. (2005), the Garden Grove Unified School District, Calif. (2004) and the Long Beach Unified School District, Calif. (2003).

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