For a record-tying fifth time, the Long Beach Unified School District was named among the top five school systems in the nation by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
Long Beach now will compete with four other districts for public education's largest prize, The Broad Prize for Urban Education, which will be announced on September 16 in Washington, D.C. Only Boston Public Schools shares the distinction of reaching the finals every year that it has been eligible for the award.
The top winner receives $1 million in student scholarships, while the other four remaining finalists receive $250,000 each. School districts cannot apply for the annual award. Instead, an independent panel reviews vast amounts of student achievement data from 100 big-city school districts nationwide. Of these 100 school systems, only five are chosen as finalists.
"Long Beach's commitment to students continues to bear fruit," said LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser. "It is a remarkable achievement to be recognized yet again as one of the top school systems in the country, especially during such challenging fiscal times. We deeply appreciate the hard work of our teachers, parents, support staff, administrators, Board of Education and countless business and community partners. Together we're defying the odds and building brighter futures for every student, every day."
Among the reasons for Long Beach’s selection was that, in 2008, its African-American, Hispanic and low-income students achieved higher average proficiency rates than their counterparts statewide in reading and math at all grade levels: elementary, middle and high school. Between 2005 and 2008, Long Beach narrowed achievement gaps between its Hispanic students and the state’s white students in math at all grade levels, as well as in middle and high school reading. Moreover, between 2006 and 2008, Long Beach increased both the participation rate and the average score for Hispanic students taking the SAT.
The other four finalists are Aldine Independent School District in Texas, Broward County Public Schools in Florida, Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia and Socorro Independent School District in Texas. Long Beach won the top prize in 2003.