To the Editor:
An April 26, 2013, entry in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check blog on edweek.org (“Bill Gates’s School Panopticon”) referenced a Fast Company article that mistakenly reported that Bill Gates wants to put a camera in every classroom. That claim is simply not true.
The original Fast Company piece, which the publication revised on April 25 (“Updated: New Details on Bill Gates’s $5 Billion Plan to Film, Measure Every Teacher”), covered the filming of a TED talk on effective teaching that Mr. Gates gave in April. Mr. Gates referenced the findings from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, which showed that using multiple measures to understand a teacher’s performance provides a richer and more reliable picture of a teacher’s strengths and areas for improvement than any one measure alone.
The MET project included the use of cameras in the classroom so that raters could view a large number of teachers delivering instruction, as well as feedback from student surveys and growth in student achievement. While it’s true that many of the teachers who volunteered for the study found the videos useful, the purpose of the study was never to advocate for putting a camera in every classroom.
As Mr. Gates said in his TED talk, everyone can benefit from a coach, and unlike in many professions, teachers don’t receive enough specific, constructive feedback about how they’re performing. That’s why the foundation continues to be committed to supporting school districts’ efforts to provide teachers with better, more useful feedback that can help them develop as professionals.
Global Press Secretary
Deputy Director, External Communications
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
A version of this article appeared in the June 05, 2013 edition of Education Week as Gates Not Seeking Cameras in All Classrooms