Broad Foundation’s Prize for Public Charter Schools Helping Change Educational Goals

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation recently announced the winner of their 2012 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. The foundation, a leading Los Angeles philanthropy, is is working to ensure that every student in urban public schools has the same educational opportunities as any other child. (See Broad Foundation: Los Angeles Grants).

The foundation helps support programs and policies that result in improvements in overall student performance. The prize is an annual award honoring urban public charter schools that have reduced the gaps between poor or minority students and more privileged ones. (See Grants for Charter Schools).

The award for 2012 was given to YES Prep Public Schools, a Houston program started in 1998. YES has created an incredible amount of progress, with all of its seniors graduating from high school and receiving acceptance to four year colleges or universities. More than 90% of its students attend college without the need for any remedial classes.

The YES Prep program was selected as the winner of the Broad Prize by a 14-member review board of education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives. RMC Research Corporation was just one element of the team who researched various schools in order to find the winner of the prize. From 2007 to 2011, YES Prep was able to "eliminate nearly all income and ethnic achievement gaps, and its students outperformed higher income and white peers statewide in most cases, achieved higher average Advanced Placement participation and passing rates than their peer average and outperformed their peer average on SAT participation and scores." (Read Broad Foundation senior advisor Rebecca Wolf DiBiase's IP profile).

Vice President of RMC Research and the lead researcher Dr. Shelley Billig said, "YES Prep not only implements the challenging curriculum, rigorous instruction, careful teacher selection and in-depth professional development for teachers and administrators, but also goes beyond these methods to address other student needs, such as building student character and motivating students — during and after high school, enabling students to envision themselves as successful college students. Together, these strategies represent a winning combination to help disadvantaged students both graduate high school on time and thrive in college."

The program implements several key components including: using challenging curriculum based on AP exams, having longer school days and school years, finding talented teachers and administrators selected specifically for the program, implementing teacher development and coaching, using character building and community service as part of the curriculum, adding preparation for college culture, and providing academic and social/emotional support for students after high school.

The CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Nina Rees said, "This groundbreaking report reveals what makes this public school system work. I encourage charter school practitioners and policymakers alike to use these findings to help many more public schools — charter and traditional — learn from this successful model."

The winner of next year's Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools will be announced July 2.