In a recent episode of the American Graduate series from PBS NewsHour, Melinda Gates described the Gates Foundation’s nationwide education reform program.
While the Gates and Bush foundations have different approaches to increasing education achievement (and our strategy is focused exclusively on Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota), in the interview she commented on two approaches that are directly relevant to our work:
The Bush Foundation focuses on improving teacher effectiveness because research shows that effective teaching is the most important school-related factor in increasing educational achievement. In Gates’s words, “the fundamental thing that makes a difference in the classroom is an effective teacher…. At the end of the day, it comes down to the teacher.” A recent study out of Harvard and Columbia universities also supports the importance of teacher effectiveness.
Both the Bush and Gates foundations believe that using student test scores to evaluate teachers is just one way among many to measure effectiveness. In an effort to improve the outcome of this particular method of evaluating teachers, the Bush Foundation is working closely with its 14 higher education partners and others to create new a variety of assessment tools, including surveys of teacher candidates and their supervisors to supplement “value-added” tools (those that link student test scores with teachers).
Gates begins speaking about these education reform topics and others about three minutes into the NewsHour segment, after coverage of a town hall meeting with teachers.
About theBushFoundationOur mission is to be a catalyst for the courageous leadership necessary to create sustainable solutions to tough public problems and ensure community vitality. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area.