Finally a Bride

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No longer a bridesmaid, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district finally takes home this year's Broad Prize for Urban Education. (It was a finalist twice before in 2004 and 2010). 

As one of the top performers in all subjects on the recent NAEP district-level assessment, Charlotte-Mecklenburg had a clear edge against its competition. We've dug into our TR3 database  to see what else, apart from the all-important student learning gains, makes Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the finalists stand out. Here are some of the noteworthy teacher policies that may have helped propel students forward:

For one, all of the finalists factor in teacher performance when determining how to staff schools and who to lay off during reductions in force, which certainly isn't the norm. Also, they all require more in-service days for teachers than the average district, perhaps providing more extra time for planning, professional development and teacher collaboration. 

But more on the winner: Charlotte-Mecklenburg's "Strategic Staffing" model is also of note, allotting high-performing teachers an impressive $20,000 incentive bonus to teach in turnaround schools, where principals get to hand-pick some of their staff. With smart thinking like this to complement big student-achievement gains and a strong record of shrinking the achievement gap, it's no wonder Charlotte-Mecklenburg came out on top this year.

Sarah Brody and Ginger Moored