Houston ISD Seniors to Receive $150,000 in Broad Foundation Scholarships

This spring’s Houston Independent School District graduates will receive $150,000 in scholarships from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Update, May 29, 2013: The Broad Foundation increased its scholarship giveaway to $165,000 in an effort to distribute more financial assistance to HISD students.

The scholarships are a result of HISD being among the four national finalists for the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education, which was awarded today to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.  This was Miami-Dade’s fifth time to be a Broad Prize finalist.  HISD won the inaugural Broad Prize in 2002.

“We were honored to be among the final four of 75 urban school districts for the most prestigious award in education,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said.  “The consistent progress that our students have made over the past several years is a direct reflection on the hard work put in by the teachers, principals, and every member of Team HISD.”

The Broad (rhymes with “road”) Prize is awarded each year to the urban school district that demonstrated the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students over several years.  Click here to find video, photos, and more information from today’s ceremony.

“The district has required all schools, even the lowest performing schools, to dramatically increase access to Advanced Placement programs,” Duncan said of Houston.  “We have to move to entire systems of excellence, not just pockets of excellence. … That’s what our country needs.”

The other finalists this year were: Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and The School District of Palm Beach County, Fla.  Students from all finalist school districts receive $150,000 in scholarship money from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

“Teachers, parents, principals and administrators, truly everyone involved in Houston ISD’s success deserves to be applauded today,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundation, which sponsors the award. “The progress you have made — helping students of all backgrounds reach advanced academic levels, narrowing achievement gaps and engaging parents and teachers in reform efforts — is what nearly every other large urban school system nationwide is striving to do.””

School districts cannot apply to be considered for the Broad Prize.  Instead, they are chosen based on an objective review of multiple years of student achievement data.

Among the reasons why Houston ISD was named a finalist for the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education:

  • HISD’s African-American graduation rate improved faster than in other urban districts nationally. The graduation rate of Houston’s African-American students, as shown by the average of three nationally recognized graduation rate estimation methods, increased 13 percentage points from 2006 to 2009.
  • HISD increased the percentage of Hispanic and African-American students taking college readiness exams more quickly than other urban districts nationally.
  • Between 2008 and 2011, SAT participation rates for HISD’s Hispanic students increased by 15 percentage points.
  • In this same period, Advanced Placement (AP) exam participation by Hispanic students increased 13 percentage points, an average of about 4 percentage points per year-an improvement rate that ranked in the top 10 percent of all 75 Broad Prize-eligible districts.
  • In 2011 alone, the percentage of HISD’s African-American students taking an AP exam — 23 percent — ranked in the top 10 percent of Broad-Prize-eligible districts.
  • Similarly, the percent of HISD’s Hispanic students taking an AP exam in 2011—29 percent—ranked in the top 20 percent of eligible districts.
  • A greater percentage of Hispanic and low-income students reach advanced academic levels in Houston than in other urban districts in Texas.  In 2011, the percentage of HISD’s Hispanic students who performed at the highest achievement level (Commended) in math and science at all school levels (elementary, middle, high school) ranked in the top 30 percent statewide compared to Hispanic students in other Texas districts. In addition, the percentage of Houston’s low-income students who performed at the highest achievement level in math at all school levels and in elementary and middle school science ranked in the top 30 percent statewide compared to low-income students in other Texas districts.

This year’s four finalists were selected by a review board of 13 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, civil rights advocates, think-tanks and foundations. The review board evaluated publicly available academic achievement data that were compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm.

In selecting the finalists, the review board looked for urban school districts that showed the greatest overall performance and improvement in urban student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students.  Among the data they considered were SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement participation rates and outcomes, graduation rates, state assessments in reading, math and science, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, student demographics including poverty, state test rigor, per pupil expenditures and district size.

Over a two-month period last spring, teams of educational researchers and practitioners led by the education consulting company RMC Research Corporation conducted a four-day site visit in each finalist district using a research-based rubric for district quality to gather qualitative information, interview district administrators, conduct focus groups with teachers and principals and observe classrooms. The teams also interviewed parents, community leaders, school board members and union representatives. A selection jury of prominent individuals from business, industry, education and public service then chose the winning school district after reviewing both the student achievement data and the qualitative site visit reports.

For more information about The Broad Prize, please visit www.broadprize.org.

About the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation: Founded by self-made entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a philanthropy that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed.  Bringing together top education experts and practitioners, the foundation funds system-wide programs and policies that strengthen public schools by creating environments that allow good teachers to do great work and enable students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive.  The Broad Foundation’s Internet address is www.broadeducation.org, and updates are available on Twitter @broadfoundation.