IDEA Public Schools named America’s Best Charter School Network

RIO GRANDE VALLEY (June 27, 2016) – IDEA Public Schools has been named the winner of the $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools at the 2016 National Charter Schools Conference in Nashville. The award honors the public charter management organization that demonstrates the most outstanding overall student performance among the country’s largest urban charter management organizations while reducing achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color.

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of the 2016 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools,” said Tom Torkelson, founder and CEO of IDEA Public Schools. “This recognition is validation that when the adults in the system get it right, kids can do remarkable things. For the last 16 years, IDEA has been working to prove this is possible.  We are proud of this achievement.” 

Prior to announcing this year’s winner, a seven member review board of national education experts analyzed publicly available student performance and college-readiness data for 30 of the country’s largest public charter management systems and named three finalists: IDEA Public Schools, Success Academy Charter Schools and YES Prep Public Schools. The review board considered student outcomes, college readiness indicators, scalability, size, poverty, and demographics, and selected the top three charter networks based on overall student performance and progress closing achievement gaps. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which funds the prize, did not play a role in selecting the top three charter systems.

“Year after year, IDEA Public Schools demonstrates that all students can achieve at high levels,” said Gregory McGinity, executive director of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. “As a three-time finalist and first-time winner of The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, IDEA Public Schools and its dedicated leaders, teachers, staff, and families deserve congratulations for their commitment to helping students reach their dreams of a college degree.” 

IDEA Public Schools was selected as this year’s Broad Prize recipient because of its strong record of success preparing students in South and Central Texas for college. Among IDEA’s notable achievements are the following:

IDEA Public Schools is a network of 44 elementary, middle and high schools in Texas that serves more than 24,000 students in San Antonio, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley. IDEA's student population is 87 percent low-­income and 95 percent Hispanic. In ­2015, all of IDEA's schools were in the top 30 percent of Texas schools for advanced proficiency for low-­income and Hispanic students in elementary, middle and high school English, math and science. That same year, 97 percent of their Hispanic students took the ACT, while the high school graduation rate for IDEA's Hispanic students was 99 percent.

·         For the past ten years in a row, 100% of IDEA graduates have been accepted to a four-year college or university.

·         U.S. News & World Report ranks all of IDEA’s eligible high schools in the top of the list of best high schools in the nation and has awarded them with the prestigious gold medal distinction.

·         The Washington Post ranks all of IDEA’s eligible high schools in the top 110 of the nation’s most challenging high schools. 

·         IDEA alumni graduate college at five times the national average

“When we founded IDEA 16 years ago, we wanted to ensure students from all circumstances had an equal opportunity to succeed in life,” said JoAnn Gama, co-founder and superintendent of IDEA Public Schools. “All of our success is due to high expectations and a shared commitment between our thousands of team and family members and supporters. We are so honored be the recipient of this year’s Broad Prize award.”

IDEA Public Schools will use the $250,000 in prize proceeds to help exceptional graduates access the college of their dreams. 

About IDEA Public Schools

IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public schools serving nearly 24,000 students in 44 schools across Texas (San Antonio, Austin, and the Rio Grande Valley). With a track record of success including top-ranked high school by US News & World Report and The Washington Post, 100% college acceptance, and a college graduation rate five times the national average for low-income students, IDEA families, students, and staff are proving that college is possible for all children.

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