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Brownsville School District Gets Broad Prize

The Brownsville Independent School District in Texas was awarded the 2008 Broad Prize for Urban Education today for being "the most improved urban school district." Among the reasons the district received the prize is because its Hispanic and low-income students outperformed their peers at other similar Texas districts in reading and math in all grades. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation awarded the prize, which provides $1 million in college scholarship funds for seniors in the district who graduate next spring. See my colleague Dakarai I. Aarons' article, "Brownsville, Texas, Wins Broad Prize," just published at edweek.org. Here's a story on the prize by the Associated Press.

There's no mention of English-language learners in the press release, but the school district's Web site says that 42.4 percent of the district's 48,858 students are English-language learners. The school district provides both bilingual education and English-as-a-second-language classes.

It's located near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Here are the headlines for the section in the press release spelling out the reasons for why Brownsville got the prize: "Outperforming other similar Texas districts," "Greater improvement by ethnic and income subgroups," "Closing achievement gaps," and "Strong district-wide policies and practices."

I'll wait until the hoopla settles down and then see if I can get my editors to send me down there for a site visit to see how the district is working with ELLs.

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