Posts tagged "Gates Foundation"
January 8, 2013
Now that the city and teachers union are back at the negotiating table to work on teacher evaluations, the Gates Foundation has some tips.
The foundation today released the third and final report about the Measures of Effective Teaching project, an ambitious three-year study that included 3,000 teachers in seven districts, including New York City. The study concludes that teacher effectiveness can indeed be measured and identifies strategies for grading teachers.
Having multiple people observe the same teacher is more effective than having one person observe the teacher multiple times, the study found. Student surveys are stronger predictors of teachers’ ability to raise test scores than observations. And counting state test scores for a third to half of a teacher’s rating is better than weighting the scores less or more.
With the report, the foundation takes a bold stance on a policy issue that remains hotly contested, even as states and school districts across the country have adopted new evaluation systems. But foundation officials are confident because the latest report reflects a change in the study’s design that they say proves that teacher evaluation systems really do measure teachers. (more…)
October 15, 2012
The ink was barely dry on New York’s agreement with an organization that is building an interstate student data project when parents and advocates raised concerns about it this weekend.
The parents and advocates held a press conference Sunday about a letter that they sent Friday to the state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. The letter asked the officials to halt New York’s participation in the Shared Learning Collaborative until the state assures them that student information will be secure.
But the state only finalized its agreement with the SLC, a nonprofit group that aims to help state avoid building duplicative data systems, on Thursday, according to a signed agreement that state officials provided to reporters this weekend. The officials said the terms of the agreement should quell privacy concerns about the system, which each state will use and augment independently.
Some of the parents’ and advocates’ allegations — they suggest in their letter that the state might be preparing to sell student data to for-profit companies — are simply incorrect, according to Ken Wagner, a State Education Department associate commissioner. But he said today that other concerns raised in the letter reflected important questions about privacy and security that the department had previously not answered publicly.
“They were right to raise those issues, but we believe those issues have been addressed in our agreement,” Wagner said. (more…)
January 26, 2012
The Bloomberg administration has long touted the small high schools it created as outperforming large schools closed to make way for them. But a new report finds, for the second time, that the schools also post higher graduation rates than other city schools that stayed open.
Being randomly selected to attend small high schools opened under the Bloomberg administration made students significantly more likely to graduate, even as the schools got older, according to the report, conducted by researchers at the nonprofit firm MDRC.
The researchers updated a 2010 study that examined “small schools of choice” that opened between 2002 and 2008 and did not select students based on their academic performance. Of the 123 schools that fit that bill, 105 had so many applicants that the schools selected among them randomly, through a lottery.
The lottery process enabled the researchers to compare what happened to two groups of students that started out statistically identical: those who were admitted to the small schools and those who lost the lotteries and wound up in older, larger schools. That type of comparison is considered the “gold standard” in education research.
The original study found that the small high schools had positive effects on their students — but it looked only at the schools’ very first enrollees. The new report looks at those students in the fifth year after they enrolled and also at the second set of students who enrolled at the schools.
It finds that the higher graduation rate — 67.9 percent, compared to 59.3 percent for students who were not admitted — continued for the second group of students who enrolled and cut across all groups of students, regardless of their race, gender, family income, or academic skills upon enrollment. Students at the small schools were also more likely to meet the state’s college readiness standards in English, though not in math.
“Small schools for a variety of reasons, I always felt, were going to succeed in certain ways,” said Richard Kahan, the head of Urban Assembly, a nonprofit that started a handful of schools included in the study. “But I would not have predicted the impact.” (more…)
January 6, 2012
A historic look inside the nation’s classrooms, including some in New York City, painted a bleak picture, according to a report released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today.
The second installment of the foundation’s ambitious Measures of Effective Teaching study, the report focuses on the picture of teaching yielded by five different classroom observation tools. It also scrutinizes those tools themselves, concluding that they are valuable as a way to help teachers improve but only useful as evaluation tools when combined with measures of student learning known as value-added scores.
The conclusion is a strong endorsement of the Obama administration’s approach to improving teaching by implementing new evaluations of teachers that draw on both observations and value-added measures. New York State took this approach to overhauling its evaluation system when it applied for federal Race to the Top funding.
Among the group of five observation tools the foundation studied is the rubric now being piloted in New York City classrooms as part of stalled efforts to implement the changes to teacher evaluation, Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Effective Teaching.
Through all five lenses, instruction looked mediocre in an overwhelming majority of more than 1,000 classrooms studied, the report concludes. There were some bright spots. Many teachers were scored relatively well for the aspect of teaching known as “classroom management” — keeping students well-behaved, making sure they are engaged.
But teachers often fell short when it came to other elements of teaching, such as facilitating discussions, speaking precisely about concepts, and carefully modeling skills that students need to master. These higher-order skill sets, the report notes, are crucial in order for students to meet the raised standards outlined in the Common Core. (more…)
July 6, 2011
An initiative designed to ease tension between district and charter schools in the city has moved slowly and largely under the radar this spring.
In December, then-Chancellor Joel Klein joined 88 of the city’s charter schools in signing on to a District-Charter Collaboration Compact, which mandates that charter schools “fulfill their role as laboratories of innovation” and requires the Department of Education to support city charter schools. The compact, which the Gates Foundation urged and is funding, emphasizes collaboration around issues of enrollment, space allocation, and instruction.
But after more than six months — which were bookended by Klein’s sudden departure and a contentious lawsuit over charter school co-location — little progress has been made toward fulfilling the compact’s requirements. In June, the New York City Charter School Center took a first step by hiring Cara Volpe, a former Teach for America employee, to be the city’s first district-charter collaboration manager.
Later, a not-yet-formed advisory council of district and charter school employees will help Volpe set priorities, according to city and charter school officials.
Volpe “will be expected to implement the council’s vision for identifying, establishing and implementing the partnerships, policies and programs that will help tear down the boundaries between great district and charter schools,” according to advertisement for the position, which the charter center posted online at GothamSchools’ jobs board, Idealist, and elsewhere.
Volpe’s work will come at a time when tensions around charter schools are at an all-time high. (more…)
January 6, 2011
As journalists, we try to scrutinize education advocacy funding. But soon, the foundations and advocates may be turning the microscope back on us.
The Center for Education Reform — a Washington, D.C.-based group that pushes for the expansion of charter schools — is preparing to launch a new project it’s calling “The Media Bullpen.” The site will be designed to “monitor the daily flow of education news and respond to it in real time,” according to a preview of how the site might work posted on its website.
A six-point baseball-themed ratings system will determine whether stories are accurate, with facts “portrayed in the correct light” (“Home Run”), or ”completely wrong,” drawing “invalid” conclusions (“Strikeout!”).
It’s not clear how the center’s advocacy positions and those of the funders of the project — several powerful foundations — will affect the ratings.The center declined to provide any details on the venture until closer to its release.
The project drew concern from Linda Perlstein, the public editor of the Education Writers Association. “Will ‘the correct light’ wind up meaning less about accuracy than about viewpoint?” she asked.
According to the preview, the venture is being funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the Gleason Family Foundation, the Bradley Foundation and a $275,000 grant from the Gates Foundation.
The site first attracted attention last month, when the job posting for the site’s managing editor began to circulate. The job description includes two notable requirements. On one hand, the managing editor should be a “passionate advocate for education reform”; on the other, she should also practice “sound journalistic ethics.” Many journalists believe that ethics prohibit them from becoming advocates of particular policy positions.
The job description harkened back to a question that GothamSchools once tried to resolve with a contest: Though supporters of school choice like CER are often called “reformers,” education reform means different things to different people, and almost everyone involved in education would like to see change of some kind. (We eventually dubbed the pro-charter camp into which CER falls the “idealocrats.”)
So it matters whether the Media Bullpen project is looking for a passionate advocate of “reform” in the broad sense or in a much narrower one. Whatever meaning the project takes will likely make a huge difference in how it rates education coverage.
September 27, 2010
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded New York City $3 million today to more than double the percentage of city college students who earn associate’s degrees.
Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott said the city’s goal is to have 25 percent of City University of New York students earn an associate’s degree after three years of college. The city is giving itself until 2010 to reach that objective, and it’s got a long way to go. Currently, only 10 percent of the students who enter CUNY complete enough coursework for an associate’s degree in three years. Well-prepared students can typically earn this degree in two years.
Walcott said the city would also use the grant money to align public high schools’ curriculum with what’s being taught at CUNY to prevent students from entering college unable to do the work.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to do for a number of years in New York City and what this grant does for us, is make sure our K-12 and our CUNY system are constantly talking together and planning together,” he said in a conference call with reporters today. (more…)
June 16, 2010
The Gates Foundation’s thousands of grantees told the foundation it’s not easy to work with in a survey, the foundation’s CEO, Jeff Raikes, reported in a letter yesterday.
The foundation did receive good marks on improving “knowledge, policy, and practice” in its funding areas. But pretty much everything else was bleak — and even bleaker than the average response that the group administering the survey, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, usually sees.
Many of our grantee partners said we are not clear about our goals and strategies, and they think we don’t understand their goals and strategies.
They are confused by our decision-making and grantmaking processes.
Because of staff turnovers, many of our grantee partners have had to manage multiple Program Officer transitions during the course of their grant, which creates more work.
Finally, they say we are inconsistent in our communications, and often unresponsive.
Raikes also said the foundation plans to make changes in response to the feedback, which came from about two-thirds of more than a thousand grantees.
I don’t need to remind our readers that the Gates Foundation is a ginormous giver to education causes, investing more than $4 billion in the last decade. Anecdotal reports suggest the foundation is also one of the major producers of grumbling nonprofit heads and development directors, which may or may not be correlated.
Two years ago, I wrote about the foundation’s decision to rethink its education giving strategy, shifting from small schools to teaching quality.
February 17, 2010
A new report on the rapid proliferation of small schools in New York City finds that while the schools have expanded students’ options, most students choose to attend larger schools.
Commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report is one of four that will eventually be released in order to study how the schools have multiplied, who is attending them, who is teaching in them, and whether they’re succeeding. The Gates Foundation popularized and funded the small schools movement in New York, fueling the growth of nearly 200 small schools with a $150 million investment.
A New York-based research group, MDRC, conducted the report, which does not look at the schools’ academic record — that analysis will come out in spring — but focuses on the schools’ enrollment and demographics. (more…)
A reader points us to another sign that New York’s teacher tenure law might hurt the state’s Race to the Top chances: In a memo released in September, the Gates Foundation removed New York from a list of states able to receive help building its application.
The memo specifically named the tenure law, which bans school districts from using student data as a factor in teacher tenure decisions, as the reason New York was struck from the list.
The foundation had vowed in August to give 15 states $250,000 each to hire consultants to help with applications, and New York was on the official list. But when the foundation extended its offer of aid to any state meeting its criteria, Gates director of education Vicki Phillips said New York would no longer be eligible until it makes “explicit progress on…removing barriers to linking student and teacher data.”
UPDATE: Christopher Williams, spokesman for the Gates Foundation, told me Phillips’ memo referred to New York’s chances at future foundation initiatives. “It means we probably won’t be making a lot of grants unless the law is changed,” he said. But the foundation is not cutting the state off from the aid it is receiving to help build its Race the Top application, he said. (more…)