Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Report: Gates reforms brought mixed success, slow improvement to Hillsborough schools | Tampa Bay Times

Report: Gates reforms brought mixed success, slow improvement to Hillsborough schools | Tampa Bay Times:
Report: Gates reforms brought mixed success, slow improvement to Hillsborough schools


TAMPA — Bill Gates wanted poor and minority students to have a fair shot at getting the best teachers public schools had to offer. That's a key reason his foundation plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into teaching reform efforts across the nation, including Hillsborough County.

Did it work? Yes and no.
Early results of a study by the Rand Corp. and the American Institutes for Research show top teachers are being steered to schools that serve low-income minority students. But once they arrive, those teachers are likely to teach whiter, wealthier students.
Results were similarly muddled when it came to improved student achievement, another of Gates' goals.
And, while principals saw value in a new way of evaluating teachers, the study indicates Hillsborough teachers had little confidence in the process.
While Hillsborough officials dispute that last point, they are eliminating a key component of the system — structured evaluations by a cadre of classroom observers from outside the school.
The researchers say their work — which is also funded by Gates — is ongoing. Regardless of the final results, they say school leaders can learn lessons about the challenges of placing good teachers where they are needed most.
"The findings so far confirm for us that changing systems to improve teaching quality is very complex work and requires persistence and patience," said Mary Beth Lambert, senior communications officer for the Gates group.
"We are hopeful that the recent uptick in student outcomes and other progress will continue and is an encouraging trend that we hope will be reflected in the final report due out next year."
• • •
Back in 2009, when Gates invited school districts to take part in his initiative, the Microsoft billionaire had ambitious goals that included getting more students into college and improving the United States' position in the global economy.
Hillsborough leaders were eager to join, knowing Florida was gearing up for its own reforms. The thinking among union leaders, administrators and School Board members was that the Gates money and expertise would give Hillsborough a leg up on other districts.
But, as in the other communities that signed on — Memphis, Pittsburgh and several charter school groups in California — change was difficult and costly.
The school districts were supposed to match the Gates grants with local philanthropic gifts. But, Report: Gates reforms brought mixed success, slow improvement to Hillsborough schools | Tampa Bay Times:

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