The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has awarded the Cumberland
County Schools system $150,000 for student scholarships. The award is a result
of the district becoming one of four finalists for the Broad Foundation's
annual prize of $550,000 in scholarships.
The Broad Prize recognizes certain large urban school
districts that show significant improvements over the most-recent four-year
School districts do not apply for the award. Instead, qualifying
districts are discovered each year when researchers for the Broad Foundation
analyzes the country's 75 largest urban school districts that serve high
percentages of low-income and minority students.
The four districts selected as finalists are the ones that
make the most gains in overall student achievement and in reducing achievement
gaps for low-income, Hispanic and African-American subgroups. This year's other
finalists are Corona-Norco Unified School District (CA), Houston Independent
School District (TX) and San Diego Unified School District (CA).
Shelley Billig who works for a third-party research group
used by the Broad Foundation said Cumberland County schools narrowed the achievement
gap between the best performing students and low-income and minority students.
She said there has been a significant growth in African-American students
reaching an advanced level. She also pointed out that Cumberland County
graduation rates improved twice as fast other districts.
"One of the things about Cumberland County is
you're not just looking at reaching a proficiency level, but you're looking at
student growth for every single child," Billig said. "So when you've got that
kind of individualized approach where every child counts, it makes for a really
She said the decrease in the achievement gap
was significant. Cumberland County Schools now has the smallest gap of any
urban school district in North Carolina.
"For the Broad Prize you have to have
students who are achieving at the very highest level, and you've done that with
your African American students who are achieving at advanced levels at a greater
rate than any other county in North Carolina," Billig said Wednesday.
Billig and other researchers are touring
Cumberland County schools this week to gather more information that will be
added to the data already gathered. She will make similar trips to the other
finalist school districts.
overall Broad Prize winner will be announced September 25 at the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C. The scholarship money for the finalists and the
overall winner will go to seniors who demonstrate both grade improvement over
the course of their high school career and financial need.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>