Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho wins national education prize

Alberto Carvalho

The prizes keep on coming.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was named a winner of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education on Thursday, adding the prestigious national recognition to a growing list of accolades.

The prize, which comes with $50,000, is awarded to educators who have dedicated themselves to improving the world of teaching and learning at the post-secondary, K-12 and international levels.

“It certainly feels to me like the pinnacle of recognition,” Carvalho said.

A panel of leaders from the education world selected Carvalho as the winner in the K-12 category for “his exemplary leadership in raising standards and improving graduation rates in a complex urban district, which is an outstanding model for others,” according to a news release.

More than half of Miami-Dade students live in poverty and more than 70,000 are learning English as a second language. Still, the district’s graduation rate of 78 percent surpasses the state average, students out-performed their big-city peers on national tests and 38 percent of Miami-Dade schools received an “A” grade in state rankings.

“It’s counter-intuitive that with greater diversity, greater poverty, our performance would surpass the nation and the state,” Carvalho said. “We keep hitting new milestones.”

The prize comes on the heels of Carvalho’s 2014 win of National Superintendent of the Year, and the district’s 2012 win of the Broad Prize, often described as the Nobel Prize of education.

This year’s winners of the McGraw prize also include Anant Agarwal of edX, which makes college courses from top universities available for free online, and Sakena Yacoobi, who has helped make education available for girls and women in Afghanistan through the Afghan Institute of Learning.

Past winners include Wendy Kopp, the founder of the alternative teacher training program Teach for America, and Khan Academy founder Sal Khan, whose online tutoring videos are used worldwide.

Christina Veiga: 305-376-2029, @cveiga