Montgomery County, Md., is a runner-up for the prestigious Broad education award with four other school districts.
A school district outside of Atlanta, Ga., won the $1 million prize, but being a finalist earned Montgomery County $250,000. Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast says he doesn't view the outcome as a loss.
"No, no, no, no. I think we are a winner. When you're in the top 5 percent of the top 100, you've got to be very proud," Weast says.
The Broad finalists are recognized for closing achievement gaps in urban areas. Weast says that as Montgomery County gets more urbanized, its teachers are maintaining high standards for all students.
"What it shows me is that our teachers are not only teaching to get kids college-ready. They're teaching all kids to get college-ready," Weast says.
The prize money pays for college scholarships for high school seniors who have shown improvements in their grade point averages.