HISD Again a Finalist for Prestigious $1 Million Broad Prize

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The Houston Independent School District is once again a finalist for the prestigious Broad Prize, which celebrates urban education and who's doing it right.

It's the third time HISD has been a finalist for the award, which began in 2002. The district won the nationwide prize -- which comes with a neat $1 million check -- that initial year, and was a finalist last year.

"Go TEAM HISD!!!" district superintendent Terry Grier tweeted.

Perhaps more surprising than HISD being a finalist again is the fact that Aldine ISD is not a finalist this year -- AISD, the Susan Lucci of the competition, was a finalist three times before finally winning in 2009.

The finalists HISD will be squaring off against this year include Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, California, a finalist last year, and first-time finalists Cumberland County Schools, North Carolina, and the San Diego Unified School District.

In more studied, un-tweeted comments, Grier said, ""Being named a Broad Prize finalist in 2012 showed the nation that HISD's students were on the right track, thanks to our great principals, teachers and staff. Earning that distinction two years in a row demonstrates the kind of consistent excellence that we must sustain if we truly expect our city's schools to become great all over."

HISD said of the criteria (which apparently may take into consideration "the use of run-on sentences"):

In selecting the finalists, the review board looks for urban school districts that show the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students. Among the data they consider are 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.

Specifically, HISD said, there are four reasons it made the cut:

-- HISD has the highest SAT participation rate among other urban districts around the country for all students and specifically Hispanic and African-American students...

-- The increases in participation in Advanced Placement exams for all students and specifically for Hispanic students were the highest among other urban districts around the country...

-- HISD's overall graduation rate improved twice as fast as other urban districts around the country...

-- Houston narrowed low-income and Hispanic achievement gaps.

The winner will be announced September 25 in Washington, D.C.

Here's Grier's gleeful tweet:

And the curmudgeonly take of HISD spokesman Jason Spencer:

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