This week the White House released the details on how it will pick the winner in the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.
According to the White House: 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. President Obama will select the national winner from the three high schools with the highest average ratings.
At the end of the rating period (April 26, 2010 at 8:00 AM EST to April 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM EST), 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.
The video side of the competition is being coordinated by The Get Schooled Foundation, a collaboration involving Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Students at each of the six public school finalists shot a three minute video on Monday and Tuesday, assisted by a videographer courtesy of Get Schooled.
This is a fascinating initiative. One of the big problems in education reform is that many people don’t know, in any concrete sense, what constitutes a “good” public school. And a lot of people don’t believe they exist at all. So by creating this competition, the White House is helping to define what people should expect, and demand, in terms of public schools.
The criteria for selecting the winning school are:
- 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.
The six finalist schools are very different from each other, but all have great cultures and report tremendous success in sending students to college. While people may disagree vehemently on how to create great public schools, my guess is that people can come to agreement on what great schools should look and feel like.
This is a very astute way of furthering that conversation.
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