Fantastic findings. So what's the downside?
Of the nation's one hundred largest school districts, thirty have African American, Hispanic, and/or low-income student populations that outperform their respective subgroups at the state level. Breaking this number down further, eighteen, sixteen, and seventeen large urban districts are better at serving African American, Hispanic, and low-income students, respectively. This is according to a new brief presented by The Broad Foundation, which analyzed school district performance data as part of its Broad Prize initiative. Some of the leaders included Long Beach, CA, Mobile, AL, and Mesquite, TX. The report's methods section offers a hefty number of disclaimers?and rightfully so. The analysis doesn't consider the magnitude by which districts outperform their states. More troublesome, it doesn't control for socioeconomic status when considering the performance of minority subgroups?making districts like Fairfax County, Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland look better than deserved, as their minority students tend to be much wealthier than those in other locales. Despite these concerns, three short case studies in the brief showcase some worthwhile strategies undertaken by exemplary districts. Some practices are common across districts, such as emphasizing teacher accountability and data-driven decision-making; others are unique, such as extensive one-to-one mentoring of students. While not exactly groundbreaking, this overview of specific practices employed by large urban school districts raising achievement for minority and low-income students could be instructive in our efforts to pick up the pace on closing achievement gaps.