School Reformers Switch Gears

Sep 5, 2018 by

“Think local” is the hot idea among influencers like the Gates Foundation that once favored top-down initiatives like Common Core.

by Andrea Gabor –

For two decades, the prevailing wisdom among education philanthropists and policymakers has been that the U.S. school system needs the guiding hand of centralized standard-setting to discipline ineffective teachers and bureaucrats. Much of that direction was guided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent billions since 2000 to influence both schools and education policy.

But as schools open this year, top-down national initiatives based on standardized testing and curricular uniformity are in retreat.

Last fall, the Gates Foundation ended its support for a $575 million, six-year teacher-effectiveness project; the initiative had failed to meet the foundation’s goals to “dramatically improve student outcomes,” according to a recent study commissioned by the foundation.

Two dozen states started backing away from the Gates-backed Common Core State Standards not long after they were first embraced in 2010 (though many of these states retained “key elements” of the standards, according to a 2017 report by an education organization the foundation helps fund.) Earlier, the foundation acknowledged that “many of the small schools” that it invested in — the foundation’s first major education initiative — “did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way.”

Source: School Reformers Switch Gears

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