Gates pours millions in new grants to change teaching profession

(Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)
(Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)

The Gates Foundation is spending millions of dollars in new grants that will further its already vast and controversial influence on public education. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars to to develop teacher assessment systems, it is putting many millions more into that issue, as well as into the creation of new online “adaptive” courses, the implementation of the Common Core standards, and more.

The foundation has plowed billions into K-12 reform in the last decade or so (first creating small schools and then teacher evaluation systems that used student test scores) but also in recent years has expanded into higher education. Recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education detailed the nearly half a billion dollars the foundation has spent to help remake the higher education into one that Gates prefers, which is focused on getting more students degrees faster through technology and what is called “competency-based learning,” and which is wrapped around an accountability system based on testing.

Foundation grants in July include those for teacher evaluation, development and the creation of new “standards” for the profession. Several school districts won multimillion-dollar grants, including one for $10 million to “support the Denver Public Schools in finding, growing and keeping talented educators in the district to ensure their students have an effective teacher in every classroom every year.” The National Education Association’s Foundation for the Improvement of Education won a total of more than $5 million grants.

Harvard University got $1.6 million to “test a new model of teacher evaluation that increases teacher ownership and buy-in, reduces administrative burden, and provides an auditable artifact to ensure and maintain reliable scoring.” The foundation has said it would explain this grant in more depth — especially the “reliable scoring piece.” (Is this a recognition that the “scoring” now being used to grade teachers is not reliable?) I’ll update this when I hear back.

After already spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the subject of teacher evaluation, it is interesting that the foundation seems to think teachers need to have more ownership and buy-in of the assessment process. Really now, it didn’t have to take hundreds of millions of dollars to learn that, of course, and it doesn’t take $1.6 million to Harvard either; the model has long existed in, for example, Montgomery County, Md., where teachers lead the successful evaluation system (without the high-stakes use of standardized test scores). Any good teacher in any school could have told the Gates folks that for free.

Harvard, incidentally, also won more than half a million dollars more in another grant to help advance Common Core standards and assessments, digital learning, teacher effectiveness, and charter schools.

There are also grants for  higher education grants for Information Privacy And Security initiatives as well as for continued K-12 reform, including Common Core State Standard implementation. It is investing in the creation of online “adaptive” courses that can be individually tailored to students.

Here are some of the July grants, from the foundation website (you can see all of the July awards here):

 

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Inc
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support revision of the National Board certification process
Amount: $3,743,337
Term: 36
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Arlington, Virginia

Denver Public Schools
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the Denver Public Schools in finding, growing and keeping talented educators in the district to ensure their students have an effective teacher in every classroom every year
Amount: $10,000,000
Term: 36
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Denver, Colorado

Jefferson County School District R-1
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to develop innovative professional development systems to create personalized learning systems for teachers
Amount: $5,197,878
Term: 36
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Golden, Colorado

Fresno Unified School District
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to develop innovative professional development systems to create personalized learning systems for teachers
Amount: $5,000,000
Term: 36
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Fresno, California

Long Beach Unified School District
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to develop innovative professional development systems to create personalized learning systems for teachers
Amount: $5,000,000
Term: 36
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Long Beach, California

 

The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support a cohort of National Education Association Master Teachers in the development of Common Core-aligned lessons in K-5 mathematics and K-12 English Language Arts
Amount: $3,882,600
Term: 20
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the capacity of state NEA affiliates to advance teaching and learning issues and student success in collaboration with local affiliates
Amount: $2,426,500
Term: 26
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Harvard University
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to test a new model of teacher evaluation that increases teacher ownership and buy-in, reduces administrative burden, and provides an auditable artifact to ensure and maintain reliable scoring
Amount: $1,602,380
Term: 26
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Council of Chief State School Officers
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to CCSSO, on behalf of the PARCC and SBAC consortia to support the development of high quality assessments to measure the Common Core State Standards
Amount: $4,000,000
Term: 21
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Educators for Excellence
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support teachers to be leaders in policy development and implementation.
Amount: $3,000,695
Term: 36
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: New York, New York

Stand for Children Leadership Center
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to organize supportive parents and teachers in Jefferson Parish, LA, to implement reforms that ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for and with access to a college education
Amount: $249,939
Term: 18
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Portland, Oregon

The George Washington University
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the Center on Education Policy’s continuing efforts to survey, analyze, and report on state and school district efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards
Amount: $259,895
Term: 15
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Harvard University
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support Education Next’s work in four critical areas: Common Core standards and assessments, digital learning, teacher effectiveness, and charter schools
Amount: $557,168
Term: 23
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Arizona State University
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the creation of the next generation of adaptive courses to enable student success
Amount: $330,000
Term: 24
Topic: Postsecondary Success

Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Tempe, Arizona

Research Foundation of State University of New York
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the creation of the next generation of adaptive courses to enable student success
Amount: $99,970
Term: 24
Topic: Postsecondary Success
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Albany, New York

North Carolina State University
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the creation of the next generation of adaptive courses to enable student success
Amount: $100,000
Term: 25
Topic: Postsecondary Success
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

 

Engaged Learning
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to facilitate dramatic increases in academic achievement for all US students by building and validating a proof of concept of 6th-grade digital math courseware based on the JUMP Math curriculum, a breakthrough curriculum for teacher-delivered instruction
Amount: $989,929
Term: 12
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington

 

 

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · August 7, 2013