The council's annual gathering this year in Cleveland was especially notable for its keynote speaker, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Gates Foundation Bill Gates, who announced that over the next five years the foundation will invest about $1.7 billion in K-12 education.
Gates listed many examples from across the US of the types of innovation the foundation will seek to identify and support: Fresno's work boosting the number of students applying for college by using data to create college-option packages for high schoolers who meet college requirements; Summit Public Schools' work to identify best teaching practices among its staff to boost achievement for English language learners; LIFT Tennessee's collaboration of superintendents to share innovation across the state, and Chicago's Network for College Success that looks to boost college-attendance rates with a specific focus on ninth-grade students. His money also went to support charter schools, teacher preparation programs and an array of other improvement initiatives, including one to break up large high schools into smaller ones. The initiative to break up large high schools was not one that could be easily replicated elsewhere, he acknowledged. His other models - which pushed districts to use test scores to size up teacher performance - were often controversial among educators.
Bill Gates wants to see schools connect.
Observing and measuring "effective" teachers: "This work has helped states across the country build comprehensive evaluation systems based on multiple measures.But districts and states have varied in how they have implemented these systems because they each operate in their local context".
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When it comes to education, "I don't think any of us our satisfied", Gates said the audience. Hess noted that a dozen years ago, the billionaire declared US high schools to be "obsolete".
The final 15% will address the sector of charter schools, which Gates believes are vital for helping kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities receive a high-quality education.
Less than 1 percent of government spending on education goes to research and development, Gates said, which leaves it open for philanthropists to fund and explore. Math will also be an area of focus, Gates said, as the foundation searches for evidence-based solutions for teaching and boosting student achievement. Schools will be able to "drive the process" for themselves, and can "request for information" about the investments starting this upcoming Monday. But he lauded Gates's intentions to improve education. "We want to have people put their time and energy and resources into making schools better".
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