IDEA Public Schools Named Top Public Charter School System in America as Winner of 2016 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. IDEA Public Schools is the winner of the 2016 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced today at the National Charter Schools Conference. The Texas-based charter management organization (CMO) will receive $250,000 to support college-readiness for their largely Hispanic student population.

"As a three-time finalist and this years winner, IDEA's dedicated leaders, teachers and families have proved year after year that all students can excel and achieve at high levels," said Gregory McGinity, executive director of The Broad Foundation. "We are proud to honor IDEA's outstanding track record of preparing its students for college and beyond, and we hope that other public schools across the country can learn from their success."

IDEA serves more than 24,000 students in pre-K through grade 12, with 44 schools throughout the Austin, Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio regions. Nearly 90 percent of IDEA's students are low-income, and 95 percent are Hispanic.

A seven-member review board of prominent education researchers, policy leaders and practitioners from around the country chose IDEA as the winner for the following academic achievements:

  • Ninety-nine percent of IDEAs Hispanic and low-income students graduated on time in 2013-14.
  • Nearly every high school senior took the ACT.
  • Seventy percent of IDEAs high school students took an Advanced Placement (AP) exam in 2014-15.
  • For academic performance among Hispanic and low-income students, all of IDEAs schools were in the top 30 percent of Texas schools in both proficient and advanced levels of elementary, middle and high school English Language Arts, math and science.

"On behalf of the charter school movement and the more than 4,000 charter school leaders and advocates gathered in Nashville for the National Charter Schools Conference, I am pleased to congratulate everyone at IDEA for winning the 2016 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "IDEA is a shining example of how great charter schools are changing the course of children's lives. It is incredible that for the past nine years, 100 percent of IDEA's graduating seniors have been accepted to college. Every day, the team at IDEA works tirelessly towards its mission of preparing students from underserved communities for success in college and citizenship."

IDEA was one of three finalists, along with Success Academy Charter Schools, which operates 34 schools in New York, and YES Prep, which runs 15 middle and high schools in Houston selected by the review board. The finalists and winner were chosen from among 30 of the countrys largest CMOs and based on a review of publicly available student performance and college-readiness data, compiled by American Institutes for Research. The review board considered student outcomes, college-readiness indicators, scalability, size, poverty and demographics. The Broad Foundation, which funds the prize, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which administers the prize, had no role in selecting the finalists or winner.

When looking at the data, it is clear that IDEA is a beacon of light for students in Texas who might otherwise not have high-quality public school options. Students who enroll in IDEAs schools are graduating high school and going on to college in exceptional numbers, said Nelson Smith, senior advisor to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and a member of The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools review board. IDEAs outcomes speak for themselves.

The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools awards $250,000 to the large public charter school system determined to have the best overall academic performance while closing achievement gaps and serving low-income students and students of color. Non-profit charter management organizations eligible for the 2016 award operated a minimum of five schools since 2011-12 with at least 2,500 students and served sizable percentages of low-income students and students of color. Organizations cannot apply for the award nor be nominated. The prize winnings must be used for college-readiness efforts.

Previous winners of The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools include Noble Network of Charter Schools in 2015, KIPP Schools in 2014, Uncommon Schools in 2013 and YES Prep Public Schools in 2012. Winners are ineligible for three years following their win.