- During a speech at the Council of the Great City Schools' annual conference in Cleveland, Bill Gates detailed a strategy shift for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's educational philanthropy, placing a greater focus on supporting "locally driven solutions" for student achievement from networks of districts, schools and teachers, EdSource reports.
- According to Education Week, a new $1.7 billion for K-12 education over the next five years will go toward supporting promising results from existing traditional public schools, new curriculum development, charters serving special needs students, and "research and development" to scale successful models.
- Gates also revealed that the foundation would no longer focus any investment in teacher evaluation models, saying the new focus would have greater impact and will initially look specifically at high-needs schools and districts in about six to eight states.
The new focus for the Gates Foundation's K-12 funding practices is apparently inspired in part by district collaborations like California's CORE Districts, as EdSource notes. Such collaboratives have grown in popularity in recent years for a handful of reasons.
For example, the CORE Districts (which include Los Angeles Unified, Long Beach Unified and Fresno Unified) have worked to share data and come up with improved accountability measures for students and schools. Meanwhile, rural districts, like Arizona's Vail and Benson School Districts, have found success in unifying to promote innovation and achievement. In some instances, these partnerships improve access to new curriculum models, while in others they serve to help negotiate better rates on access to broadband and other services.
That the foundation is abandoning investment on teacher evaluation efforts is noteworthy in that it was one of its most-criticized areas of educational philanthropy. Many in recent years have questioned the impact of teacher or school evaluations tied to metrics like student test scores, arguing primarily that such measures would only serve to hinder innovative experimentation.