The San Diego Unified School District Wednesday was named a runner-up for the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education.
The district was one of four finalists for the prize, which honors districts that demonstrate improved student achievement, especially for minorities and students from low-income families.
In a news conference in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced this morning that the winner was the Houston Independent School District, which will receive $550,000 in college scholarship money for its graduating seniors from the Broad Foundation.
Superintendent Cindy Marten and retired Superintendent Bill Kowba both attended the award ceremony. The district’s nomination was announced while Kowba was still the superintendent.
“It was an honor to be recognized by The Broad Foundation,” Marten said. “I am grateful to our team of employees who work every day in-and-out of the classrooms for our children. This honor reaffirms that our community-based reform efforts and singular focus on student achievement are making a difference.”
As runner-up, San Diego Unified will receive $150,000 prize money that must be doled out among graduating seniors in the district.
“I’m excited for our students who will receive Broad scholarships,” she said.
San Diego Unified was chosen as a finalist this year, in part, because it was one of six big-city districts in which black students improved their scores on advanced placement tests, according to a report by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
The organization also cited the SDUSD for outperforming similar districts around California in standardized test scores, narrowing the achievement gap for Hispanic and low-income pupils, and improvements in science by black, Hispanic and low-income high school students.
The foundation credits rigorous classes starting in elementary school, access to gifted programs, and identifying and recruiting potential high-performing students to enroll in Advanced Placement courses for the academic improvements.
Schools with improved test scores were also more likely to provide extra academic and social support to students, increase AP course offerings, offer more teachers training, instill confidence in students about their college prospects and educate parents about the benefits of AP courses, according to its report.
A 17-member review board of education leaders and civil rights advocates picked the SDUSD out of a field of 75 districts that qualified for consideration.
— City News Services and San Diego Unified Press Release