Teacher Preparation

Gates Foundation to Expand Teacher-Preparation Grantmaking

By Stephen Sawchuk — April 28, 2015 2 min read
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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is poised to expand its grantmaking in the area of teacher preparation, according to a recent blog post by two of its officers.

“In the coming years, we foresee many opportunities for partnership in the field of teacher preparation, with many types of organizations,” Gates officials Tom Stritikus and Michelle Rojas write in the post. “We’ll be focusing our efforts on supporting action-oriented collaboration, promoting innovation, and advocating for the conditions that enable progress. We’re open-minded about what that looks like, but we are firmly committed to a set of principles that will guide our investments.”

Those principles referred to include programs that:

  • Give candidates opportunities to master competencies and receive feedback;
  • Use information about candidate performance to inform programming;
  • Work to respond to hiring districts’ needs; and
  • Ensure they produce effective teachers.

Both Stritikus and Rojas have strong teacher-preparation backgrounds, incidentally. Stritikus was the dean of the University of Washington’s school of education, and Rojas worked to improve clinical preparation at Arizona State University.

As of late 2013, the Gates Foundation had spent nearly $700 million on efforts relating to teaching, including about $38 million on teacher-preparation efforts, as I reported for Education Week.

A quick spin through the Gates database for more recent grants turns up a few notable ones relating to teacher preparation, including a $261,000 grant to Bellwether Education Partners, a consultancy that plans to “educate deans and other education leaders” on best practices for initial preparation. There are also several 2014 grants related to teacher preparation, including $1.5 million for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for math and science preparation; $380,000 to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, or CAEP, to make use of student surveys for teacher feeback; and $450,000 to the Core Practice Consortium at Stanford University, which is devising ways to teach content-specific pedagogical practices (you can read a little bit about it in this story.) But this announcement suggests there could be others in the works.

What might they be? Were I a betting man, I’d put money on the Deans for Impact group, which holds similar principles to Gates'; more support for CAEP, which is preparing for its first full year of its new standards implementation in 2016; and preparation programs like the Match Teacher Residency and the Urban Teacher Center, which already take steps to measure candidate effectiveness.

I’ve put a query out to the Gates folks for more info, and will update this posting if I hear back.

Photo: Bill Gates listens while his wife, Melinda Gates, talks during an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year in New York. —Seth Wenig/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.

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