Congratulations to Gwinnett County Public Schools and Orange County Schools of Orlando (FL) who were named co-winners of the Broad Prize, splitting the winnings of $1 million dollars to support college scholarships for their high school seniors. The prize rewards districts for improving achievement among disadvantaged students. Criteria include state test scores, graduation rates, performance compared with similar districts in the state, preparation of students for college, and the closing of the achievement gaps between ethnic groups and low-and-high income students.
It’s impressive that Gwinnet County has won the award for a second year (previously a winner in 2010), and similarly impressive that Orange County Schools have seen huge amounts of growth to get this well-deserved win. It’s a great example of how communities can both achieve success through different education tactics in order to best fit the needs of their community. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of the Orange County School District, who is in her second year in that district, is a supporter of expanded learning time, saying in an interview, “I believe extended learning time for all students, but especially schools with higher levels of poverty will receive increased attention at the national level.”
Both districts won out of a pool of 75 districts because of their academic achievements specifically with low-income students. Jurors on the selection committee found that Gwinnett County, is "consistently one of the top performers in Georgia." Meanwhile, the selection committee noted that Orange County has "galvanized the community around raising student achievement -- quickly and dramatically." Former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a member of the selection jury, said, “We were impressed with Gwinnett County’s steady, sustainable gains and with Orange County’s urgency and commitment to improve student achievement quickly. In the end, we decided that both finalists deserved to win the 2014 Broad Prize.”
We agree with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who said when he presented the award that the real winners are the children. Congrats! Click here for full details about the Broad Foundation prize and watch an inspiring video on the finalists.