Regional
2:16 pm
Tue October 19, 2010

Local Schools Share $500,000 In Scholarships

El Paso – The Socorro Independent School District and the Ysleta Independent School District won a collective $500,000 in college scholarships for their students as finalists for the 2010 Broad Prize, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced today.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined philanthropist Eli Broad at the Museum of Modern Art to announce that Gwinnett County Public Schools outside Atlanta won the 2010 Broad Prize, the largest education award in the country that carries with it $1 million in college scholarships.

The $2 million Broad (rhymes with "road") Prize is an annual award that honors the five large school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while narrowing achievement gaps between income and ethnic groups. The winner of the 2010 Broad Prize was selected by a bipartisan jury of eight prominent leaders from government, education, business and public service, including three former U.S. secretaries of education.

As finalists for The Broad Prize, Socorro and Ysleta will each receive $250,000 in college scholarships for their high school seniors who graduate in 2011. Socorro was also a finalist for the 2009 Broad Prize, so its two-year winnings total $500,000. The other two 2010 finalists are Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina and Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.

"Socorro and Ysleta are to be commended for their unwavering focus on improving student achievement," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards The Broad Prize. "It is truly remarkable to have two neighboring districts be among the five most improved large districts in the country. The El Paso community clearly has placed a priority on ensuring every student has the skills and knowledge to be successful in college and in life."

Among the reasons Socorro stood out this year among the largest school districts in the country:

* Outperformed similar districts in Texas. In 2009, Socorro outperformed other Texas districts that serve students with similar family income levels in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle, high school).

* Higher percentage of students performed at advanced levels. In 2009, a greater percentage of Socorro's low-income students at all school levels performed at the highest achievement level on the state reading and math assessments compared with low-income students statewide.

* Achieved high SAT participation rates. Between 2006 and 2009, SAT participation rates for Socorro's Hispanic high school seniors increased by 12 percentage points.

* All schools met AYP. In 2009, 100 percent of schools in Socorro met AYP, compared with 81 percent of schools in Texas.

Among the reasons Ysleta stood out this year among the largest school districts in the country:

* Outperformed similar districts in Texas. In 2009, Ysleta outperformed other Texas districts that serve students with similar family incomes in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle and high school).

* Students achieved higher average proficiency. In 2009, Ysleta's Hispanic and low-income students achieved higher average proficiency rates than their counterparts statewide in reading and math at all school levels.

* Graduated high percentage of Hispanic students. In 2007 (the most recent year for which graduation data were available), Ysleta's average Hispanic student graduation rate was 70 percent, the fifth-highest Hispanic graduation rate among all 100 school districts eligible for The Broad Prize.

* Achieved high SAT participation rates. In 2009, 88 percent of Ysleta's seniors participated in the SAT exam, the highest participation rate of the 100 districts eligible for The Broad Prize. In addition, 79 percent of Ysleta's Hispanic seniors participated in the SAT exam, the highest Hispanic student participation rate among all 100 Broad Prize eligible districts.

Each year, 100 of the largest school districts in America that serve significant percentages of low-income and minority students are automatically eligible for The Broad Prize. Districts cannot apply for or be nominated for this award.

For a full electronic press kit, including additional student outcomes, policies and practices that made Socorro and Ysleta stand out among the largest districts in the country, please visit www.broadprize.org.

The selection jury that chose this year's winner included:

* Henry Cisneros, executive chairman of CityView companies, former president of Univision and former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development
* James B. Hunt, Jr., chairman of the board of the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy and former governor of North Carolina.
* Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
* Roderick Paige, former U.S. secretary of education
* Richard W. Riley, former U.S. secretary of education and former governor of South Carolina
* Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. secretary of health and human services
* Margaret Spellings, executive vice president of the National Chamber Foundation and former U.S. secretary of education
* Andrew L. Stern, president emeritus of Service Employees International Union

The selection jury evaluated quantitative data on the finalists, consisting of publicly available student performance data compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm. In addition, the jury evaluated the five finalist districts' policies and practices, based on site visits, interviews with administrators, teachers, principals, parents, community leaders, school board members and union representatives and classroom observations. The site visits were conducted by a team of education practitioners led by RMC Research Corporation, an education consulting company.

Socorro and Ysleta were selected as finalists this past spring by a review board of 18 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, national education associations, think-tanks and foundations that evaluated publicly available student performance data.

High school seniors in the two districts who graduate in 2011 will be eligible for Broad Prize scholarships, which are awarded to students who demonstrate significant financial need and show a record of academic improvement during their high school career. Scholarship recipients who enroll in four-year colleges will receive up to $20,000 paid out over four years ($5,000 per year). Broad Prize scholars who enroll in two-year colleges will receive up to $5,000 scholarships paid out over two years ($2,500 per year). For more information, please visit: http://www.broadprize.org/scholarship_program/overview.html.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Broad Foundation's education work is focused on dramatically improving K-12 public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition. The Broad Foundation's Internet address is www.broadfoundation.org.