Networks of charter schools containing National Blue Ribbon Schools have received the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools for the second year in a row. The 2013 Broad prize of $250,000 was given to the Uncommon Schools network of 32 public charter schools in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts that together serve nearly 8,000 students, among them the students of North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School. The inaugural Broad Prize, in 2012, was awarded to the YES Prep system in Houston, Texas, which contains YES Prep North Central, a 2009 National Blue Ribbon School.
Each year the prize honors a public charter school system that has demonstrated the most outstanding student performance and improvement while reducing achievement gaps for low-income students. The $250,000 in prize money will be used to support low-income student college-readiness efforts, such as scholarships, speaker series or campus visits. The prize is the sister award to the Broad Prize for Urban Education, awarded to traditional public school districts.
Robert Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education, White House Domestic Policy Council, announced the award at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C. before more than 4,000 public charter school leaders.
A review board of prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners, and executives evaluated publicly available student achievement data, collected by RTI International, on 27 large established charter school systems. The review board considered student outcomes, scalability, size, poverty, and student demographics. Eligible charter school systems have operated a minimum of five schools for four years, enroll at least 1,500 students annually, and serve sizable percentages of low-income and minority students.