Broad Prizes

  • Education
  • 2002

The $1 million Broad Prize, the largest K-12 education award in the country, was created in 2002 to reward urban public-school districts that “demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.” It is donated by the Edythe and Eli Broad Foundation. In 2012 the foundation established a parallel $250,000 prize to recognize the charter-school operator that best meets similar criteria. The ultimate aim of both prizes is to highlight school systems that others across the country might be able to learn from.

The charter-school prize offers many chart-topping candidates worth recognizing. The school-district prize, however, lost its luster when it was awarded to Houston city schools for a second time in 2013, without their possessing an especially proud achievement record, and when only two districts were named as finalists in 2014 (instead of the usual four to five), because the prize board found so few impressive records. The lack of impressive empirical results from conventional urban public school districts caused the foundation to “pause” that prize in 2015. Meanwhile, the charter-school prize continues to spotlight many highly effective operators.

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