Broad Foundation Hits Pause on School Reform Prize


The Los-Angeles based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has announced that it will be taking a break from awarding its $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education in order to update the award to coincide with the changes going on in K-12 public education.

The prize has been given out for the past 13 years to public school systems that show the best overall performance and improvement in student achievement while at the same time closing the achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.  The prize money has allowed over 1,200 low-income students to succeed in high school and go on to college.

The foundation gave $500,000 in college scholarships to the Gwinnett County’s school system in Georgia.  The recent decision will not affect that prize, writes Eric Stirgus for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to a press release, the foundation said it decided to take a break due to “sluggish academic results from the largest urban school districts in the country.”  The lack of quality academic results is causing the foundation to have trouble finding qualified finalists.  During the “pause” the foundation plans on reevaluating the goal of the prize, which is to promote improvement in public school districts across the country.

Usually, 75 of the largest school districts in the nation were considered automatically eligible for the prize and selected to be finalists.  Last year saw only two districts make it through the review process that allowed them to be considered by the prize jury.  The award was given to both districts.  Since 2002, the foundation has always had four or five finalists.

“The rise of a new definition of public school systems, coupled with more rigorous standards and higher expectations for our public schools, convinced us that now is the right time to take a break and evaluate The Broad Prize to ensure it fulfills its original mission: to catalyze dramatic improvement in America’s public schools,” said Bruce Reed, president of The Broad Foundation. “We want to make sure any award recognizes the best achievement in K-12 public education today while incentivizing school systems to raise student achievement to the highest level.”

Scholarships for Broad Prize scholars who are in college will continue to be renewed during the pause.

The foundation plans to continue to award its $250,000 prize for public charter schools.  The award was first handed out in 2012 in recognition of well-performing charter management organizations that show high achievement is possible in schools with mostly disadvantaged students.

“It is our hope that The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, and any future Broad Prize, will inspire educators across the country to work with heightened urgency and creativity to make sure every student achieves at high levels,” Reed said. “American public schools are improving, but we need to move faster. The families and children who are counting on their schools can’t afford to wait.”

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