Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Education reform, one classroom at a time

Melinda Gates with a nice op ed in the Washington Post:

Congress established strong guidelines to guarantee that states spend Race to the Top money on audacious reforms. Many states responded with equal fortitude, submitting proposals to radically improve how they use data or to adopt college- and career-ready standards -- concepts that used to be considered third rails in the world of education. Never before has this country had such an opportunity to remake the way we teach young people.

One reason I am so optimistic about these developments is because, after decades of diffuse reform efforts, they all zero in on the most important ingredient of a great education: effective teachers. The key to helping students learn is making sure that every child has an effective teacher every single year.

Teachers are at the center of our strategy at the Gates Foundation. Since my husband and I started investing in education 10 years ago, our foundation has partnered with more than 1,000 high schools. Our grantmaking wasn't always oriented around effective teaching, but gradually we noticed that the schools with the biggest gains were those doing revolutionary work inside the classroom.

Bill and I see evidence of this every time we visit a school. The 82 schools across the country that have implemented the Knowledge Is Power Program invariably get excellent results from the very same low-income students who tend to struggle at traditional high schools. Last year, we traveled to KIPP Houston High, where 90 percent of the students graduate, compared with 65 percent for the city as a whole, even though KIPP's students are poorer than their peers in Houston's public school system.


Education reform, one classroom at a time

By Melinda French Gates

Friday, February 19, 2010

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