The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have expressed their plans to invest in professional development trainers who will train teachers on “high quality” curriculum. According to the Education Week Website, the announcement was made out of the curricular education improvement strategy drafted by the foundation in 2017, as a major pivot away from their previous area of concentration; teacher performance. The foundation has planned to invest around $10 million which is a tiny portion of the $1.7 billion that the organisation wishes to expend into K-12 education sector by the year 2022. This plan is likely to attract attention towards a pertinent and touchy issue of what students learn each day at American schools.
Gates officials highlighted how these new grants would not only support the curricula development plans from scratch but will also help to improve the methods through which teachers impart education, by modifying the existing practises and bringing them in line to the state learning standards.
This project by the Gates Foundation will fund partnerships between schools and professional development providers and will be open to different groups in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, and North Carolina. Under this project, the grantees will ensure to work with teachers in secondary schools serving a student population consisting of 50 percent black, Latino, English learners and low-income groups. Districts that were serving at least 50,000 students would also be eligible to apply for these grants.
All the grantees will emphasis on middle or high school mathematics or English/language arts, or middle school science disciplines. Apart from orienting the training around a high-end curriculum, grantees will also ensure to sustain their efforts after the grants annulment and will participate in a research study. The foundation also envisions making up to 10 grants of $1 million apiece.
These grants will build on the organisations earlier support for shared standards, particularly the Common Core State Standards. All grantees, for instance, would have to position their teaching training around curricula with a high rating from EdReports.org, a non-profit organisation that issues Consumer-Reports-style reviews, or on other similar tools developed by other non-profit groups like Student Achievement Partners and Achieve. These tools were made in the wake of the common standards movement with unsurmountable support from the Gates Foundation.
EdReports has received more than $15 million from the foundation since 2015, while Student Achievement Partners has received about $10 million since 2012. Achieve has received various Gates grants since 1999, most recently $1 million in September to support their science lesson review project.
What factors or trends influenced the plan?
These investments by the foundation have been planned in the middle of two contradictory national trends in the curricula, I.e. shared standards and fragmentation. Shared standards are most associated with the Gates Foundation and focuses on improving the alignment of curriculum to national standards and ensure its coherence across all grades. It also assists educators to make better curricula selections in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
The other curricula trend that has influenced the project is fragmentation which deals with how millions of teachers draft lessons from Twitter, Pinterest, and online collections offered by profit companies, non-profit organisations and teachers unions. For instance, according to a national survey from the RAND Corp found that almost 60 percent math teachers used materials from the for-profit Teachers Pay Teachers, which allows them to post as well as sell their lesson plans.
“We want to identify the content-specific professional development services, products, and models that are working really well for young people, and also study the attributes of those solutions that make them effective so we can share that learning with the field,” was said by Bob Hughes, the foundation’s director of K-12 education.
To sum up:
The recent so-called personalized learning practises have further atomized curriculum at the classroom level, with learners in similar classes accessing content differently, according to their individual needs and interests. Moreover, numerous recent reports suggest that teacher training suffers on the hands of general teaching strategies rather than on how specific curriculum can be used effectively.
According to David Steiner, the executive director of the Institute of Education Policy at Johns Hopkins University, “No ed. school has a course on assembling your curriculum on the internet. We have got to change the mindset around curriculum because that is damaging to kids, there’s just no question. It’s very, very difficult to create a coherent curriculum over months and years,” he said.