Five school districts -- all in predominantly Southern states -- were announced today by the
The five finalists are
Since 2002, when the award was first established by the
The winner of the prize, which will be announced on
"Basically, we've already won the prize -- the
An enrollment uptick of nearly 15,000 students since 2002 has rocked the district hard: Weast says that administrators began setting ambitious academic goals, such as having 80 percent of its seniors college-ready by 2014, just as the district's demographic makeup began to radically change. Eight years ago, about 50 percent of students were white; now just 38 percent are. The percentage of English language learners in the 142,000-student district has also increased by 100 percent in the same time period. "At the same time, we've raised test scores every year," says Weast.
Public schools in other challenging districts such as
The program is delivering results.
In the five finalist districts, a higher percentage of black, Hispanic, and low-income students performed at the highest achievement level on state assessments in reading and math than did their statewide counterparts in 2009, according to the
"These prizes show that you can raise the bar and close the gap," says Weast. "It doesn't have to be either/or."
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Education: Five Minority School Districts In Running for Broad Prize | Zach Miners
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