One of Nation's Best, MCPS Wins $250,000 in College Scholarships

October 19, 2010
   Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) was named one of the five best urban school districts in the nation Tuesday by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, earning $250,000 in college scholarships for graduates from the class of 2011. 
   MCPS is the first district from Maryland or the Washington D.C. area to be selected as a finalist for the Broad Prize in Urban Education, which is the largest education award in the country.
   Out of the five school districts up for the award, Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools was selected as the 2010 winner of the Broad Prize, earning $1 million in college scholarships.
   "Being a finalist for the Broad Prize is a wonderful tribute to the progress that MCPS has made over the past 11 years to raise student performance and narrow the achievement gap," said Board of Education President Patricia O'Neill. "Our students are making tremendous strides thanks to the hard work of our teachers and staff, and the continued support of the community."
   Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast said being a finalist for the Broad Prize is further external validation of MCPS' reform efforts. 
   "You can't apply or be nominated for the Broad Prize. It's based solely on student performance and progress, using many different state and national benchmarks," Dr. Weast said. "And, best of all, the prize benefits our students who are pursuing the dream of a college education." 
   The announcement was made Tuesday morning during a ceremony at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which featured U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams. Along with MCPS and Gwinnett County, the other finalists were the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, the Ysleta (TX) Independent School District and the Socorro (TX) Independent School District.
   Among the nation's largest districts, only Gwinnett County's superintendent, J. Alvin Wilbanks, has a longer tenure in the same system than Dr. Weast. 
   "I want to congratulate Alvin Wilbanks and the staff and students of Gwinnett County Public Schools for winning the 2010 Broad Prize. It is a well-deserved honor," Dr. Weast said. "Persistence and consistency are an important part of a successful school district." 
   MCPS was named one of five nominees for the Broad Prize in April, having been chosen for the honor from the nation's largest school districts, based on academic performance through 2009. A team of academic experts conducted a site visit to MCPS and the other final nominees in May. 
   Other than the first year the Broad Prize was given, only one school district—the Brownsville (TX) Independent School District—won the award as a first-time nominee.
   In 2010, MCPS students raised test scores in practically every area, including an all-time high 1,653 on the SAT. They also took a record number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
   "I'm very hopeful that we will have a chance to compete for the Broad Prize again next year," Dr. Weast said.
   The Broad Prize was established in 2002 by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which seeks to advance public good in education, science and the arts. To learn more about the Broad Prize, visit

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