Gates will write national standards, tests

The Gates Foundation is putting a lot more money into education reform, reports Elizabeth Green of GothamSchools.

The boldest move is a plan to write rigorous standards and a test to go with them.

Foundation officials said that the moves are motivated by their frustration with current tests and standards for what children should know, which each state drafts individually as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Vicki Phillips, the Gates Foundation’s director of education programs, said the result is a “testing crisis in this country,” in which tests are losing credibility among teachers, who see them as so low-quality that they are useless.

“Let’s admit it,” she said. “We can’t dispense with assessment, but neither can we keep adding low-quality tests.”

The foundation will work with states and school districts to develop a “fewer, clearer, higher” standards that “match what students need to know to succeed in college.”

Phillips said the foundation will usher a few trial assessments into development, and then test them out to see which are best at predicting whether students succeed in college. (From what I understand, this would involve having students take the test when they enter college and then following them through the process, to see whether high scores predict college completion.)

College completion is a Gates priority. Only about half of students who enroll in a four-year college receive a bachelor’s degree in six years. Many give up in the first year.

In addition, the foundation will spend more than $500 million to help states and school districts use data to track student performance, and $500 million to develop ways to improve teacher performance.

Update: Alexander Russo and Eduwonkette’s skoolboy like national standards, but don’t think they should be written by Bill Gates. Skoolboy writes:

Does anybody else think this is a really, really bad idea? I’m delighted that the Gates Foundation has realized that throwing money at small schools didn’t work, but I’m not prepared to turn over the public’s interest in what is to be taught and learned to a private philanthropy, no matter how civic-minded it may be.

Gates will have to persuade educators and policy makers that his foundation’s standards and tests are better than what they’ve got now. Like Robert Pondiscio, I don’t see a sinister plot for world domination.

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Comments

  1. Interesting that there was no reference to NAEP. I wonder if that reflects the Gates Foundation’s opinion of NAEP or just the focus of the reporting.

  2. I would truly trust an outside foundation to pay people to write a better test than any professional association of educators would write (not could, would).

  3. No, the test would be more nonsense. Liberals like Gates simply will not apply the same standards to others as they apply to themselves.

  4. — I’m not prepared to turn over the public’s interest in what is to be taught and learned to a private philanthropy, no matter how civic-minded it may be.

    yeah, because the results we’ve gotten from the State have been so great!

    We allow national standards for medical boards from private non profits. We have national standards for most engineering disciplines from private non profits. We have state wide national standards for attorneys. Can anyone tell me what they are objecting to?

  5. Well, his small school iniative worked out so well.

    Oh wait, it bombed big time,so why not let him experiment a little more with children?

    I would truly trust an outside foundation to pay people to write a better test than any professional association of educators would write (not could, would).

    We have tons of poorly done laws and curriculum, designed by foundations, which are truly awful.

    Feel free to send your child to their experimental schools but mine won’t be going.

  6. I don’t mind a private foundation creating an educational product.

    It’s just a little like charter schools in that it doesn’t go far enough to really change much, since the teachers and administrators and all the usual voices will still come from the same old system.

    I think we need not just standards but entire teaching orders, where intelligent groups write standards but also write curriculum, train teachers and run schools. These orders should be private without power to coerce.

    Then we need several of them, that would respond to the visions of reality that animates various groups in society.

    Then we need a charter or voucher system, allowing parents to freely choose which satisfies them.

    Then the ranks of pundits and gurus and change marketers only need to persuade clients that they have something worth listening to.

  7. Bill Gates is a pirate and a thief. He built an empire with those qualifications. He stole, he copied, he stifled innovation. He is now engaged in self penitence. He needs to enroll himself in a course in ethics and hire a good psychoanalyst.

    What in the above qualifies him to set standards for education?

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