The award, considered the top recognition for a large urban school district, carries with it as much as $550,000 in college scholarships for its students.
Finalists for the prize, along with San Diego Unified, are the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Cumberland County Schools, N.C., and the Houston Independent School District. Corona-Norco and Houston were finalists last year. This is the first time in the award's 12-year history that San Diego and Cumberland County have been finalists.
"We're all so excited that this honor has come to San Diego Unified, no matter whether we finish in the top spot or not," said Linda Zintz, Communications Director, who will join Board of Education members, Superintendent Cindy Marten, former Superintendent Bill Kowba and several other members of the district leadership in Washington, D.C., for the announcement. "People always say, 'it's an honor just to be nominated,' but in this case, that's the truth."
Districts do not apply for the award. This year's four finalists were selected by a review board of 17 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, civil rights advocacy organizations, think-tanks and foundations. The review board evaluated publicly available academic achievement data that were compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm.
In addition, each district had a three-day site visit by a team of independent evaluators, who visited in May. While here, they produced a video that will be shown at the ceremony, which will be held in the Library of Congress. Watch video»