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Public Voting Begins Tomorrow for Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge

President Obama to choose national winner from three finalists selected by public

WASHINGTON – The White House and the Department of Education announced today that voting for the top three finalists of the first annual Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge will begin tomorrow, Monday, April 26.

From 8 a.m. EDT on Monday, April 26th through 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 29, 2010, the public will have an opportunity to review and rate a three-minute video and short essay from each of the six high school finalists at http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement.   President Obama will select the national winner from the three high schools with the highest average ratings.  The Commencement Challenge winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 and the President will visit the winning high school to deliver the commencement address later this spring.

“It is clear from these videos and essays that each of these schools is doing outstanding work to provide students with the skills and education they need to succeed in college and in their careers,” said President Obama.  “I encourage all Americans to review and rate these six finalists to help choose the winner of this competition.” 

Each school’s 3-minute video was produced by its students with support from The Get Schooled Foundation, which includes Viacom and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among its founding partners.  The schools also submitted a 200-word essay highlighting how they best met the criteria of the Commencement Challenge.  

The Commencement Challenge, launched in late February, invited the nation’s public high schools to submit applications showing their dedication to providing students with an excellent education that will prepare them to graduate ready for college and career choices. Applications were judged based on the schools’ performance, four essay questions and supplemental data. The six finalists were selected for their dedication to academic excellence and for showing how they are helping prepare students to graduate college and career ready, and prepared to meet the President’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
Finalists:

  • Blue Valley Northwest High School (Overland Park, Kansas)
  • Clark Montessori Junior High and High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Denver School of Science and Technology (Denver, Colorado)
  • Environmental Charter High School (Lawndale, California)
  • Kalamazoo Central High School (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
  • MAST Academy (Miami, Florida) 

 

Background on rating and selection process:

Rating the Finalists
On Monday, April 26, 2010 at 8:00 a.m. EDT, public review and rating of the six high school finalists in President Obama’s High School Commencement Challenge will begin on http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement. A three-minute video and short essay from each school will highlight how it best satisfies the criteria of the Commencement Challenge.   Visitors to the website can view each finalist’s video and written submission, presented in random order.  For each school, visitors are encouraged to watch the video and read the essay question before deciding on a rating. Visitors will be allowed to rate the finalists on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 as the lowest rating and 5 as the highest).  After a rating is submitted, the next school’s video and essay question will be presented for review and rating until all six schools have been viewed.  The ability to rate videos will end at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 29, 2010.

Rating Criteria
Voters are encouraged to rank the finalists based on the criteria of the Commencement Challenge including:

  • Educational success of the school as an example for other high schools around the country;
  • The ability of the school to engage students in learning and to foster personal responsibility and academic excellence; and
  • The success of the school in preparing  students to graduate college and career-ready, to help meet the President’s 2020 goal that America have the highest proportion of college graduates of any nation in the world.

Determining the Winner
At the end of the rating period (April 26, 2010 at 8:00 a.m. EDT to April 29, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EDT), the three schools with the highest average ratings will be submitted to President Obama for final selection.   The winner of the Commencement Challenge will be announced on Tuesday, May 4, 2010.

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