The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools?

The $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools is an annual award given to the urban public charter school management organization that demonstrates the most outstanding overall student performance and improvement in the country while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students.

The winner of the 2014 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools is KIPP Schools, The announcement was made on July 1 at the National Charter Schools Conference in Las Vegas. Previous winners are YES Prep Public Schools, which won the inaugural prize in 2012, and Uncommon Schools, which won the 2013 prize.

The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools is the sister award to The Broad Prize for Urban Education, which is given to traditional school systems. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation launched both awards to help schools systems across America learn from innovative public school systems producing the strongest student outcomes.


What does the winner receive?

The winner of The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools receives $250,000 for college-readiness efforts for low-income students, such as scholarships, speaker series or campus visits.

Why did The Broad Foundation create this award?

The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools was created to recognize and reward the most outstanding academic performance and progress among urban charter management organizations serving the largest number of students so that public school systems nationwide can learn from their success.

The first public charter school opened in 1992 to provide parents and students a choice of schools outside of traditional public schools. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that receive public funds and are held to the same federal and state academic standards as traditional public schools. However, they are granted more flexibility in operating, in exchange for agreeing to be academically accountable.

Since 2000, the number of public charter schools in the U.S. has increased by nearly 400 percent, and the number of students they serve has increased by more than 650 percent. As of the 2012-13 academic year, 2.3 million students–4.6 percent of all American public school students–attended charter schools.

Given that public charter schools have reached a critical mass, The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools seeks to: 


  • Recognize those charter models that show the most outstanding academic outcomes at scale, particularly for traditionally disadvantaged students
  • Create an accessible repository of high-quality data on student achievement and policies and practices in the largest charter management organizations across the country
  • Showcase the best practices of successful public charter management organizations so that other schools nationally can learn from their success

What are the eligibility criteria?

Charter management organizations that have been operating a minimum of five schools for at least four years and which serve sizeable percentages of urban, poor and minority students are automatically eligible. Organizations cannot apply or be nominated for the award.

Organizations eligible for the award in 2014 had:

  • Five or more charter schools in operation as of 2009-10
  • 1,500 students or more enrolled each year since 2009-10
  • At least 40 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch in 2010-11
  • At least 40 percent of students from minority groups in 2010-11

Winners from the previous three years are ineligible. In 2014, YES Prep Public Schools anda Uncommon Schools were ineligible.

Why were those criteria established?

These criteria were established to ensure that the charter management organizations considered for The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools are comparable, in that they serve a significant number of students, share similar demographics, operate at scale, have been in existence long enough to yield multiple years of data and organize schools under the same management organization.

Most charter schools that are ineligible for the award are single-operators that are not affiliated with a charter management organization. Organizations that outsource school operations to other charter management organizations also do not qualify.

Although many ineligible individual charter schools have made strong student gains and have important lessons to share, the practical need to collect and run comparable data made the inclusion of all charter schools impossible at this point.

The Broad Foundation will continue to review the eligibility criteria and will make revisions to future eligibility requirements deemed necessary to establish the most appropriate, fair and useful comparison possible.

Which organizations are eligible?

Achievement First   Alliance College-Ready Public Schools   American Quality Schools  
ASPIRA Association   Aspire Public Schools   Concept Schools  
Cosmos Foundation Inc.   Friendship Public Charter School   Gateway Community Charters  
Green Dot Public Schools   ICEF Public Schools   IDEA Public Schools  
KIPP Schools   Lighthouse Academies   Noble Network of Charter Schools  
Options for Youth Public Charter Schools   Partnerships to Uplift Communities   PPEP and Affiliates  
UNO Charter School Network   Uplift Education


What percent of all public charter schools do the eligible schools comprise?

During the 2012-13 school year, there were more than 6,000 public charter schools in the U.S. Roughly 7.5 percent of these schools were operated by the 20 charter management organizations eligible in 2014.

Who selects the winner?

A review board of prominent education experts from across the country–many of whom also serve on the review board that analyzes data on the school districts eligible for The Broad Prize for Urban Education–reviews student achievement data received from the eligible charter management organizations and their states and collected by RTI International (formerly MPR Associates), a leading global research institute. The review board selects the winning charter management organization.

Learn more about review board members here

The Broad Foundation and RTI International do not play a role in voting for the winner.

What methodology is used?

Typically, states report student achievement data for charter management organizations at the school–rather than aggregate–level. Consequently, The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools’ methodology aggregates school-level student achievement data for all schools affiliated with each of the eligible management organizations to generate organization-wide results and statistics that are presented to the review board. The data are collected, reviewed and analyzed by RTI International, a leading global research institute.   

What quantitative data do decision-makers review?

The review board considers the following student achievement and demographic data: 

  • Performance and improvement results on mandated state tests in reading, math and science 
  • Performance and improvement results on mandated state tests in reading, math and science adjusted for poverty 
  • The reduction and magnitude of achievement gaps between ethnic groups and between low-income and non-low-income students 

    In the case of high schools: 
  • State-reported graduation rates 
  • Advanced Placement exam participation and passing rates  
  • SAT and ACT exam participation rates and scores  
  • Demographic data (e.g., student enrollment, income, ethnicity)

No formula is used to choose the winner. Members of the review board select the winner based on their analysis of publicly available student achievement data, their professional judgment, experience and mutual discussion. Among the factors the review board considers are student outcomes, scalability, size, poverty and demographics.

How do I find best practices and student data analyses on the CMOs analyzed under this award?

Learn more about the 2014 winner KIPP Schools.

Learn more about data on all eligible organizations analyzed for the 2013 Broad Prize

How does the review board compare high school management organizations to elementary school management organizations?

Assessment data are standardized so that it can be comparable across organizations. For example, performance and improvement levels are compared to all public high school and elementary school students in the state, respectively, and compared to predicted levels based on poverty. The resulting degrees of performance and improvement versus students at the same school levels make the data comparable across CMOs.

How does the review board analyze the results of charter management organizations that operate schools in different states?

For charter management organizations that operate schools in different states, organization-level analyses are first summarized for each state. National aggregations to reflect management organization-level results are presented where methodologically sound.

Are there site visits?

After the winner is announced, a team of experienced researchers and practitioners led by RMC Research Corporation, an education consulting company based in Denver, will conduct a week-long site visit to gather qualitative data that will form the basis of a white paper, to be published in early 2015. RMC Research Corporation also conducts site visits for The Broad Prize for Urban Education. The site visit team will analyze organization-wide policies and practices related to student achievement, according to a research-based rubric. The site-visit framework is grounded in the research literature regarding school and organizational practices found to be effective in raising student achievement and covers three key areas: teaching and learning, governance and leadership, and organizational structure and culture.

What qualitative data are evaluated?

The site visit team will gather evidence through extensive document collection and analysis, classroom visits and interviews with the management organization’s leadership, principals, teachers, staff, students, parents and community representatives during a four-day visit in the fall.

Who collects the quantitative student achievement data?

RTI International manages the rigorous and comprehensive quantitative data collection and analysis process required. RTI International plays the same role for the traditional school district award, The Broad Prize for Urban Education.

How is this award different from The Broad Prize for Urban Education?

The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools closely mirrors the process used for The Broad Prize for Urban Education given to traditional school districts. For example, similar categories of student achievement data and analytical methodologies are considered. Also, some of the same decision-makers play a role in both awards. However, the quantitative methodology used for the charter prize is modified as necessary to account for differences in the availability and quality of school-level data. In addition, unlike the school district award, because there are fewer eligible management organizations, the review board selects the winner. A site visit occurs after the winner is announced to inform the field, rather than as part of the selection process.

What does the annual process look like?

The annual Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools’ process encompasses the following:

  1. Each fall, charter management organizations are identified as eligible candidates based on size, demographics, urban environment and years of available data. 
  2. Publicly available student achievement data for eligible organizations are collected during the fall and winter. 
  3. The review board analyzes publicly available data and selects the winner. 
  4. The winner is announced in the summer and data showing the overall student gains, performance and achievement gap closures that formed the quantitative basis for the decision are released. 
  5. A site visit to the winning charter management organization is conducted in the fall by researchers and practitioners to gather qualitative data on policies and practices regarding teaching and learning, leadership, and operations and support systems.
  6. Best practice findings from the site visits are released by the foundation in the winter. 
  7. Efforts are made to improve all aspects of the process on a continuous basis. 

What is The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation?

Founded by self-made 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 enable good teachers to do great work and students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. Learn more about The Broad Foundation.

What does “charter management organization” mean?

Given that commonly used terms and definitions in the field are still developing, The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools uses “charter management organization” to refer to organizations that operate multiple public charter schools under a shared management strategy or organizations or firms with one clear educational model that covers multiple public charter schools. The schools at issue also must receive public funds and operate schools under the same admissions rules as traditional public schools.  

The term “charter management organization” is intended to be consistent with the definition of “charter management organization” used by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ charter school database.

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