Administrators and teachers gathered anxiously yesterday to learn if Gwinnett County would receive a whopping $1 million from the Broad Foundation. The news was good indeed. In the morning, it was announced that the Gwinnett County public school system won the Broad Prize, and the ensuing $1 million to be used for scholarships for graduating seniors. Last year, Gwinnett County was a finalist and received $250,000. From that award, the county awarded 13 seniors with $20,000 scholarships. With the winning landfall this year, it will be able to quadruple that total, meaning 52 graduating seniors could receive scholarships. The Broad Prize is given to school districts that show the greatest improvement. It also focuses on tightening gaps among the population and minority students. “These scholarships don’t necessarily go to the valedictorian, or to the salutatorian. They go to students who have turned their academic career around,” Sloan Roach, Director of Communications for Gwinnett County Schools said on Monday. More than half of Gwinnett’s students are African-American or Hispanic, and half are eligible for subsidized lunches.
According to a press release by the Broad Foundation, Gwinnett County stands out among the largest school districts in the country because it:
- Outperformed similar districts in Georgia. In 2009, Gwinnett County outperformed other districts in Georgia that serve students with similar family income levels in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle and high school).
- Narrowed achievement gaps. In 2009, achievement gaps between African-American and white students in Gwinnett County were among the smallest in Georgia in reading at all school levels and in elementary and middle school math. In addition, between 2006 and 2009, Gwinnett County narrowed achievement gaps between its Hispanic students and the state’s white students in reading at all school levels and in middle and high school math.
- Achieved high SAT, ACT, AP participation rates. Between 2006 and 2009, participation rates rose for Gwinnett County’s African-American and Hispanic students taking the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement exams.
- More students performed at advanced levels. In 2009, a greater percentage of Gwinnett County’s African-American, Hispanic and low-income students performed at the highest achievement levels on the state reading and math assessments at all school levels compared with their counterparts statewide.
This is fantastic news for Gwinnett County in North Atlanta. In a time where larger class sizes and big budget cuts are becoming the norm, this latest windfall gives Gwinnett County a definite boost to motivate students. An announcement will be made soon that explains how Gwinnett County students can apply for the scholarships. “Districts across the country should look to Gwinnett County as an example of what is possible when adults put their interests aside and focus on students,” said Broad secretary Arne Duncan.
About Gwinnett County Public Schools:
Gwinnett County Public Schools, located in the metro Atlanta area, is the largest school system in Georgia and continues to grow. The school district anticipates it will serve nearly 161,000 students in the 2010-11 school year. One of every five Gwinnett County residents is a GCPS student.
Gwinnett County citizens highly value the important role education plays in building a thriving, global community and strongly support the school system’s pursuit of excellence. The finest teachers in the profession, involved parents, and a supportive community are key elements in the district’s quest to become a system of world-class schools.
About the Broad Foundation:
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. To learn more about the broad Foundation, go to www.broadfoundation.org.
To receive future articles by Jackie Kass, scroll to the top of this article, and click on SUBSCRIBE. Do you have a story idea? I’d love to hear from you! E-mail your ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.