Behind the Headline: Just Two Districts Named Broad Prize Finalists

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Just Two Districts Named Broad Prize Finalists
4/9/14 | Education Week

Behind the Headline
End the Broad Prize Now
10/2/13 | Education Next

The Broad Prize, awarded to an urban district for showing great improvement in student achievement, particularly among low-income and minority students, has only two finalists this year, Gwinnett County, Ga. and Orange County, Fla. Normally four to five districts are chosen as finalists.

Christopher Cross, a member of the review board for the prize, explained

We were incredibly disappointed with the overall progress of urban school systems across the U.S. …When we evaluated the most recent data, we were struck by how incremental progress has been in recent years and by how far our public schools still have to go to provide a world-class education for all children.

After last year’s Broad Prize, which was awarded to Houston, was announced, Andy Smarick argued that the Broad Prize should be ended, since Houston’s students perform at levels that are not particularly impressive. Smarick wrote

By praising such low performance, the Broad Prize doesn’t do a favor for public education. Instead, it serves to obscure the truth—that the urban district has been an unmitigated failure for 50 years

He continued

If we want to help disadvantaged urban kids, we must stop propping up the failed urban district. We must stop driving our most talented and dedicated professionals into this disastrous structure that has repulsed every effort to improve it for half a century.

We must build The Urban School System of the Future, not double down on the failed urban district of the past.

-Education Next

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