Chicago charter wins Broad Prize

Chicago charter wins Broad Prize

(La.) Three months after suspending its $1 million prize supporting innovation among the nation’s largest school districts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation announced award of $25,000 to a Chicago-based charter network for its success in sending students to college.

Noble Network Charters serves about 10,000 students at 16 high schools and one middle school. Enrollment is 95 percent African-American or Hispanic and 89 percent are considered low-income. Despite the complex demographics, Noble’s four-year cohort graduation rate has been significantly higher than the state average.

“Noble is exceptional because they operate almost entirely high schools, which are often the toughest grades to advance academically at high levels,” said Paul Pastorek, formerly state school chief in Louisiana and a member of the Broad Prize review team.

“Noble is clearly on to something because they’ve been able to scale and sustain their academic achievement,” he said in a statement. “They have demonstrated that all students have the ability to perform at college-ready levels.”

The announcement follows a decision by the foundation board in February to suspend its $1 million prize given out the last 13 years to large public school districts that have demonstrated success in narrowing the achievement gap among low-income and minority students.

Bruce Reed, president of the Broad Foundation, said that with the adoption of more rigorous content standards and with them new expectations for performance suggested that they take a break from making the award.

They also noted that typically in the past four or five districts would qualify as finalists but in 2014, just two were considered by the jury.

The touted charter school was founded in 1999 with a mission to send all students on to college. Administrators use a longer school day and a longer school year and argue that the increased instructional time is one reason for their success.

According to a release from the Broad Foundation, Noble Network won the 2015 charter school award because:

  • In a comparison of proficiency rates of low-income students in public school districts in Illinois, Noble ranked in the top 30 percent in reading and math.
  • In a comparison of proficiency rates of African-American students in public school districts in Illinois, Noble ranked in the top 30 percent in reading, math and science.
  • In a comparison of proficiency rates of Hispanic students in public school districts in Illinois, Noble ranked in the top 30 percent in reading, math and science.
  • Graduation rates for all students overall and for low-income, African-American, and Hispanic subgroups exceeded the Illinois average for those groups in 2013. For example, 87 percent of Noble’s African-American ninth-graders graduate from high school in four years compared to 71 percent in Illinois, and 88 percent of Noble’s low-income ninth-graders graduate from high school in four years compared to 73 percent in Illinois.
  • In 2014, 100 percent of Noble Network’s seniors participated in the ACT exam and earned an average ACT score of 20.3. Statewide, 50 percent of students are low-income, while Noble’s student population is 89 percent low-income. The average statewide ACT score was 20.7.

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