The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funneled billions
in funding toward improving US education and raising public
high school graduation rates.
In Bill and Melinda’s annual letter, Bill writes that
schools around the country are still “falling short on
The foundation’s new strategy focuses on listening to
teacher feedback, and funding programs that are specific to
On Tuesday, Bill and Melinda Gates published their annual letter. In it, the
pair answers 10 questions that people often ask them.
One question wonders what they “have to show” for the billions
the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent on US education
in the past decade.
“A lot, but not as much as either of us would like,” Bill Gates
writes. “Unfortunately, although there’s been some progress
over the past decade, America’s public schools are still falling
short on important metrics, especially college completion. And
the statistics are even worse for disadvantaged students.”
To help raise graduation rates, the foundation has given money
toward programs that aim to transform low-performing
In 2008, the foundation poured hundreds of millions into
designing systems that evaluate teachers — and often
determine their pay and job status — based on student
standardized test scores.
These systems are now controversial, since some experts say
the approach does little to help teachers improve. Today,
30 states require schools to consider test scores in teacher
In 2009, the Gates Foundation also started giving hundreds of
millions toward creating and marketing what became the Common
Core, standards that outline what K-12 students should know at
the end of each grade.
report from The National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) discussed the results of testing a
representative sample of high school students who had gone
through seven years of Common Core curriculum and tests. On
average, from 2013 to 2015, the students’ scores dropped in math
and flatlined in reading.
In the letter, the Gates’ said they have learned that “strong
leadership, proven instructional practices, a healthy school
culture, and high expectations are all key” to improving US
Melinda Gates further explained the foundation’s new strategy for
improving middle and high schools across the country. It focuses
on helping educators create and implement their own strategies,
which will be specific to each community or school. The
foundation will help teachers and administrators gather and
analyze data, and devote funding toward strategies that appear to
“Some networks of schools will focus on approaches that we have a
lot of experience with, like stronger curricula and teacher
feedback systems. Others will look at areas that are new to us,
like mentoring programs to ease the difficult transitions from
middle to high school and high school to college,” she wrote.
Watch the Gates’ briefly answer a few other questions below: