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Long Beach schools finalist for urban education award

April 2, 2009 | 12:05 pm

For the fifth time, the Long Beach Unified School District today was named a finalist for the Broad Prize, which honors excellence in urban education and comes with a top award of $1 million in college scholarships.

School districts cannot apply for the award. Instead, researchers study student performance data in the nation's 100 largest cities and compare districts with similar demographics. Long Beach Unified — the third-largest district in California with 86,000 students — was recognized in part because of its success in narrowing the achievement gap. In 2008, black, Latino and low-income students achieved greater proficiency in reading and math at all grade levels compared with their peers statewide.

The 2009 winner will be announced Sept. 16. The other finalists are districts in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and El Paso, and near Houston and Atlanta. The districts that do not win the top prize will each receive $250,000 for scholarships.

In 2003, Long Beach Unified won the prize. The district, along with Boston Public Schools, holds the record for being a finalist every year that they have been eligible since the inception of the prize. Districts that win are then ineligible for three years.

-- Seema Mehta