The Next Generation Learning Challenges, an initiative that we at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fund, recently announced the third and final round of winners for a challenge focused on launching innovative new schools. In total, the 20 winning schools, which were each designed to achieve “breakthrough results” toward college readiness for all students by leveraging blended instructional practices, represent a fascinating array of innovative instructional and operational approaches within both districts and charter networks.
The entire portfolio of winners will be included in a comprehensive, multi-year research and evaluation project, led by John Pane at the RAND Corporation, that will focus on a diverse, holistic array of indicators of effective schools. In keeping with the focus on personalized learning and proficiency-based pathways, the study will include not just measures of grade-level proficiency, but more importantly it will use multiple measures to calculate learning growth. Calculating learning growth is important because a fundamental premise behind personalized learning is to meet each student’s actual academic needs and accelerate her learning from that point as opposed to where her grade level indicates she “should be.” Furthermore, the study will also consider other skills that lead to college readiness such as non-cognitive skills. Finally, given the challenge’s focus on creating schools that are financially sustainable on public revenue, a separate study will take a close look at the financial models of these schools.
Below is a running list of national media coverage focused on this announcement:
- Forbes, Michael Horn: Personalized Learning on the March
- EdWeek, Jason Tomassini: Blended Learning Models Win Gates Funding