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Gates: Give More Students Access to Great Teachers

Bill Gates

Bill Gates says the nation isn’t getting its money’s worth in education, and it’s time to “raise performance without spending a lot more.”

In an essay published in the February 28 Washington Post, the Microsoft founder says excellent teaching is the single most important variable in student achievement. Yet he notes that “we do very little” to measure, develop, and reward it.

The Gates Foundation, which he chairs with his wife, Melinda, is currently working with nearly 3,000 teachers in seven urban school districts to develop fair and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness that are tied to gains in student achievement, he writes.

He faults two assumptions that have led to rising education costs: that reducing class size will boost student achievement, and that teachers must be rewarded on the basis of seniority.

Gates offers one approach to improving K-12 teaching without spending more: Identify the top 25 percent of teachers, and pay them extra to take on more students. “The rest of the savings could go toward improving teacher support and evaluation systems, to help more teachers become great.”

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One Response to “Gates: Give More Students Access to Great Teachers”

  1. Parental involvement is another important variable in student achievement. If the parent doesn’t care, usually the student doesn’t, too. While I agree that creating systems to reward and develop teachers is crucial, I also believe that equal, if not more, effort should be focused on parental involvement and accountability. In my class, students with the greatest difficulty have little support at home which is reflected in their appearance (unkept, poor hygiene), tiredness (irregular sleep patterns), incomplete homework and lost materials (books, assignments). The result, these students often hold back the class from progressing because they require intensive support from the teacher. Only focusing on teachers is not the solution.

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