We are pleased to share with you a recent Associated Press article based on an interview with the new executive director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jeff Raikes, about the foundation’s new emphasis on effective teaching. It is worth pointing out three aspects of this new focus that are made evident in the article.
First, the change in focus of the largest charitable foundation in the United States (which previously had focused on lowering class size to little avail by its own evaluations) appears to reinforce the growing consensus that effective teachers are the most crucial factor in improving student learning. Second, it is notable that the foundation considers student learning the key metric in evaluating the results of its own interventions, a stark contrast to the traditional input-based metrics of corporate foundations (which tend to include infrastructure, textbooks, computers, etc.). Finally, the process by which the foundation arrived at its new focus – experimentation, evaluation and reassessment of its work based on data – puts forth a compelling model for other foundations, and invites them to take risks where necessary, as well as to learn from their failures.