It’s the age old question: Exactly what makes a good teacher effective? Now word has come that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide funding for research designed to answer that question.
$45 million dollars will go toward a two-year study of 3,700 classroom teachers in six cities. And $290 million dollars will go toward three school districts and five charter groups to transform teacher evaluations and tenure award.
The Foundation has given money to education before, but always in the form of small grants in support of troubled high schools in the USA. The new research study is a break from that model.
It is hoped that the way teachers are evaluated for tenure will be influenced by the study. Rather than a cursory review of a teacher’s success, the research project will utilize cameras, student surveys and other tools in the investigation of shared characteristics of exemplary teachers. The Foundation hopes that districts will then adopt the practices that are successful in identifying teachers worthy of tenure.
Another goal of the two projects is to break new ground in how teachers are recruited and retained, how teachers are compensated, and how teachers are assigned to schools.
The Foundation has high hopes for the research. The fact that the communities chosen to participate in the research are seen as having extraordinary commitment to addressing difficult educational issues bodes well for the success of both projects.