The Miami-Dade County Public Schools won the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education and will get $550,000 in college scholarships for high school seniors graduating next year.
The three finalists, Corona-Norco, Houston and Palm Beach school districts will also get $150,000 scholarships.
Miami-Dade, a five-time finalist, was selected by 11 prominent leads from government, business and public service.
The prize announcement was in New York City Tuesday.
“Well, we were elated! We were waiting and waiting, it’s been five years in the making and as Eileen just said, it’s like winning the Oscars," said Sharon Watson, president of the Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs.
Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho accepted the award at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "We know what works," The Miami Herald quoted him as saying.
The annual prize honors four districts that have high student achievement and improvement in achievement at the same time, reducing the gap between low-income and minority students.
“No matter where you come from you can succeed, especially in our lower-income areas, and putting them first and to teach them that there is a future out there for them," said Eileen Segal, the Florida PTA president.
Seventy-five urban school districts in the country are automatically eligible for the prize every year.
"What is encouraging about Miami-Dade is its sustainable improvement over time," Eli Broad said in an email statement. He is the founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which awards the prize.
Miami-Dade has 350,000 students.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan congratulated the South Florida school district.
"I commend the entire Miami-Dade community for establishing a district-wide culture of results that empowers teachers and students, puts more resources into helping children in the lowest-performing schools, and is helping narrow the opportunity gap," Duncan said.