The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation across the world, founded by Bill Gates and Melinda Gates. Since its establishment in the year 2000, the foundation has faced many ups and downs. In 15 years they have invested multiple billion dollars into various school reform efforts but things didn’t go quite as planned, but they didn’t give up. They have always something new to try their hand at. Now, the foundation has found a new focus in regard to teacher quality : how to train teachers.
In the new effort, the foundation has announced that it is offering somewhere around $35 million for three years span to five new centers which are known as Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers. The centres ‘will bring together higher education institutions, teacher-preparation providers and K-12 school systems to share data, knowledge and best practices’ and ‘develop, pilot and scale effective teacher-preparation practices to help ensure that more teacher-candidates graduate ready to improve student outcomes in K-12 public schools’. Not only this but the foundation has also decided to spend tens of millions more on related efforts.
The five new centres that have been selected are :
- Elevate Preparation, Impact Children (EPIC), led by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR)
- Teacher2, led by the Relay Graduate School of Education
- TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan
- University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S.PREP) National Center, based at Texas Tech University
Each center is required to apply unique and different approaches in a different manner so as to understand which practices are most effective in a better way. EPIC perhaps is the most extensive, given that it will involve all 71 “initial teacher preparation provides” in Massachusetts “to deepen quality of field-based experiences, support data-driven analysis, and integrate the efforts of providers and partners to meet the increasing demands for teacher talent in the pre-K-12 sector,” the foundation believes.
During the early 2000s, the foundation invested hundreds of millions of dollars to create small schools, these small schools were created with an objective to increase the graduation rate. Gates foundation then thought that breaking up large high schools with high dropout rates would help in this objective, but things did not go on well in the manner they wanted. Thereby switching their education philanthropy focus to teacher quality is the new planning that the foundation is coming up with now. The same would be initiated by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help some school districts develop teacher assessment systems that, among other things, incorporated the controversial method of using student standardized tests as one of the measures.