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DSST Public Schools, Harmony Public Schools, Success Academy Charter Schools Named 2017 Broad Prize Finalists

$250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools recognizes best practices of successful charter school networks so all public school systems can learn from them

WASHINGTON, D.C. and LOS ANGELES, May 1, 2017—DSST Public Schools in Colorado, Harmony Public Schools in Texas, and Success Academy Charter Schools in New York are the finalists for the 2017 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, earning them the distinction of being among the best-performing large charter school systems in the country, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced today.

The $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, awarded to the charter management organization (CMO) that has demonstrated outstanding academic outcomes especially among low-income students and students of color, will be announced June 12 at the National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C.

A 10-member review board of national education experts, including former U.S. Secretary of Education John King, reviewed publicly available student performance and college-readiness data for 39 of the country’s largest public CMOs and found that DSST, Harmony and Success had the best overall academic performance, college readiness and progress closing achievement gaps. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which funds the prize, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which administers the prize, did not play a role in selecting the top three charter systems.

This is the first year DSST is eligible for the award and the first time Harmony has been named a finalist. Success Academy was also a finalist last year—the first year the network was eligible.

DSST Public Schools operates 12 middle and high schools that serve nearly 5,000 students in Denver, 69 percent of whom are low income and 75 percent of whom are students of color. DSST runs four of the five top Denver Public Schools (DPS) high schools, and five out of the top eight DPS middle schools, according to Denver’s 2016 School Performance Framework. At DSST, all students take the ACT and the average score for their 2016 seniors was 23.3, which far exceeds the ACT college readiness benchmark of 21.3, Colorado’s average of 20.4, and DPS’s average of 18.6.

Harmony Public Schools is a system of 48 K-12 college-preparatory STEM schools in Texas. The second-largest charter management organization in the country, serving 32,000 students, Harmony’s student population is 51 percent Hispanic, 19 percent African-American and 61 percent low-income. In 2015, Harmony Public Schools’ black, Latino and low-income students graduated at higher percentages than the state average. All of Harmony’s black students graduated, compared to 85 percent of black students statewide. Ninety-eight percent of Hispanic students graduated from high school, compared to 87 percent across Texas, and the graduation rate of Harmony’s low-income students was 98 percent, compared to 85 percent statewide.

Success Academy Charter Schools is the largest public charter school network in New York City, with 41 elementary, middle and high schools serving 14,000 students in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Success Academy has a student population that is 76 percent low-income and 93 percent African-American or Hispanic. In 2016, all of Success Academy’s elementary and middle schools were in the top 10 percent of schools in New York state for advanced academic performance in English, math and science.

“The Broad Prize is an opportunity to celebrate, and share, the innovations that are working in public education,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance. “The National Alliance is thrilled to honor DSST, Harmony and Success as the country’s top large charter school networks. The best practices that these three school systems are implementing can be successful across public schools, charter or district. We hope that by shining a spotlight on The Broad Prize finalists, other schools can see what is possible for their students.”

Non-profit charter management organizations eligible for the 2017 award operated a minimum of five schools in the 2014-15 school year 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 review board considered student outcomes, college readiness indicators, scalability, size, poverty and demographics. The data was analyzed by American Institutes for Research.

“As the charter sector grows and matures, it’s encouraging to see new entrants eligible for The Broad Prize—and this year’s finalists are impressive schools that have demonstrated some remarkable results for their students,” said Frederick M. Hess, director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a member of the 2017 Broad Prize review board. “Charter schools are evolving and growing to meet parent demand for high-performing public school options, and these finalists continue to show that high academic achievement is possible for all students.”

The review board noted that The Broad Prize is heavily reliant on states reporting data for all public schools—as are families searching for the best school for their children. But these data are often out-of-date, incomplete or unavailable.

“The review board would love to be able to look at how these charter organizations improve over time, but we are limited and frustrated by the availability of data provided by the states,” said Nelson Smith, senior advisor to the National Association for Charter School Authorizers and a veteran member of the 2017 Broad Prize review board. “We encourage states to provide more school-level data in a timelier manner to increase the transparency of how all public schools are performing.”

Previous winners of The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools include IDEA Public Schools in 2016, 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.

About The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a philanthropy that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed. Bringing together top education experts and practitioners, the foundation funds system-wide programs and policies that strengthen public schools by creating environments that allow good teachers to do great work and enable students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. For more information, visit

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit

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