East High School Wins Central Region in Get Schooled Fall Attendance Challenge

East High School, Iowa’s largest high school, improved its attendance by three percent in seven weeks to win the Central Region of the Get Schooled Foundation’s Fall Attendance Challenge.

Sponsored by the Get Schooled Foundation, the friendly competition included nearly 80,000 students at 73 schools in 17 states between Oct. 3 and Nov. 18. Leading the pack in the Central Region, East High School’s three percent improvement bests the national average of a two percent annual gain in attendance.

“I’m extremely proud of the staff and students for winning the Central Region of the Get Schooled Foundation’s Fall Attendance Challenge,” said Steven Johns, East High School Principal. “Participating in the challenge united the students and community around a common goal:  get all students to school so they can succeed and graduate. This shows Des Moines that East students are on the move!”

Iowa leads the nation with an average graduation rate of 88 percent, but East High School’s graduation falls short at 75 percent. Attendance is the greatest predictor of graduation and a significant driver of student achievement. Principal Johns has made improving attendance a key strategy of his broader effort to boost graduation rates. During the challenge East High School’s attendance rate improved three percent, to 91 percent, bringing it closer to the state average of 95 percent.

Research shows that just missing ten days a year can lead to academic problems.  Roughly half of public school students miss that much school.  Students who miss 20 days a year (or about one month) have less than a one in five chance of graduating from high school. Few districts report these chronic truancy numbers despite their correlation to low graduation rates.

“East High School’s success in the challenge shows that with the right engagement tactics, even the largest schools can make significant improvement,” said Marie Groark, Executive Director of Get Schooled Foundation. “There is little doubt that this school is on the path to greater gains and Get Schooled is pleased to be a part of their progress.”

Nationally, schools active in the challenge realized an average increase in attendance of 2.8 percent and 1,000 additional students came to school. Get Schooled brought a mix of celebrity encouragement, interactive educational games, and plenty of opportunities to elevate the voice of the students.  The challenge was designed to benefit all schools – bringing creative ideas for how to engage students, track and measure impact and make a difference in educational outcomes.

To celebrate the school’s achievements, Paramount Pictures will provide a red carpet experience for the students, with a Mission: Impossible-themed event at the school and preview screenings of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol for all students.

Schools earned points in the challenge by improving their attendance, nominating teachers who inspire them to come to school, testing their knowledge in an on-line trivia bowl, and signing up for wake-up calls from their favorite celebrities including Tyra Banks and Trey Songz.

East High tied with Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle. Both schools earned 90 points, the most of any schools in the national competition. Aki won on an attendance tie-breaker.

During the Get Schooled Fall Attendance Challenge, students completed 5,000 Sporcle quizzes testing their knowledge about science, geography and hip-hop stars’ real names.  They also wrote 800 nominations about inspiring teachers.

 “Mrs. Keith always tells me the right thing to do about not getting in trouble because she thinks that I can do better with my life,” one student said about a favorite teacher, “Mrs. Keith always saw the potential I had while taking advance English. She encouraged me to take Journalism and now I’m grateful for it.”

In January 2012, Get Schooled will launch another national challenge – this one focused on a key milestone related to students’ likelihood of success in college:  completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Details are at www.getschooled.com

About Get Schooled

Get Schooled is a non-profit organization dedicated to using media, technology and popular culture to improve high school graduation rates and college success rates. Get Schooled connects with young Americans through its combination of on-air programming, online content, on-the ground events and school-based engagement initiatives.  Together with  hundreds of schools, educators, and students, and boosted by partners like Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Get Schooled motivates and empowers students to make high school education a priority and college education a possibility.  To learn more, go to www.getschooled.com or follow Get Schooled at www.facebook.com/getschooledfoundation, or www.twitter.com/getschooled.

About Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

This holiday season, two-time Academy Award®-winner Brad Bird directs, with producers Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams, the action-packed spy adventure Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Blamed for the terrorist bombing of the Kremlin, IMF operative Ethan Hunt is disavowed along with the rest of the agency when the President initiates “Ghost Protocol.”  Left without any resources or backup, Ethan must find a way to clear his agency’s name and prevent another attack. To complicate matters further, Ethan is forced to embark on this mission with a team of fellow IMF fugitives whose personal motives he does not fully know.

Tom Cruise returns in the starring role as Ethan Hunt and is joined by an international cast that includes Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Anil Kapoor and Léa Seydoux. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is directed by Brad Bird, in his live action film debut, and written by Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec. Cruise, who produces the Mission: Impossible films, is joined by producers J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk. The film will be co-financed by Skydance Productions. Jeffrey Chernov, David Ellison, Paul Schwake and Dana Goldberg are the executive producers. 

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL will be in premium large format screenings and IMAX beginning Friday, December 16th and in theatres everywhere on December 21st, 2011.   It has been rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is a Paramount Pictures release.