Bad News/Good News: Houston ISD didn't win the prestigious Broad Prize this year honoring the country's top urban public school districts. But just by being one of the finalists, it receives $150,000 in scholarships that it can hand out to its graduating seniors.
The fifth time (as a finalist) was the charm for this year's winner: Miami-Dade County Public Schools. It receives $550,000 in scholarships for its students. The other finalist districts were in Cornoa-Norco in Southern California and Palm Beach in Florida.
"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."
HISD won the award in 2002, the first year the Broad (rhymes with "road") Prize was awarded.
According to HISD, the Broad 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."
Here were the reasons HISD was among the finalists:
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.
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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.