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February 2, 2009

Gates Foundation Disappointed With Its Small School Initiative

gf_logo.jpgIn an annual letter published on the foundation's website, Bill Gates says that their efforts to raise "...college-ready graduation rates...fell short".

He writes:
"Many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students' achievement in any significant way. These tended to be the schools that did not take radical steps to change the culture, such as allowing the principal to pick the team of teachers or change the curriculum. We had less success trying to change an existing school than helping to create a new school.

Even so, many schools had higher attendance and graduation rates than their peers. While we were pleased with these improvements, we are trying to raise college-ready graduation rates, and in most cases, we fell short."
The foundation intends to focus more tightly on charter schools and on best teaching practices.
"So our new strategy focuses on learning why some teachers are so much more effective than others and how best practices can be spread throughout the education system so that the average quality goes up. We will work with some of the best teachers to put their lectures online as a model for other teachers and as a resource for students."
Read education portion here. And the the entire letter here.