Bill Gates: schools need a better way to evaluate teachers

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Through his foundation, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is taking on a range of issues in education. But in his annual letter released Wednesday, he zeroed in on one area in particular: measuring and improving teacher progress.

The big theme of the letter was innovation in measurement and the value of setting goals and finding the right metrics to track progress — not a surprising position from the man who built Microsoft. But especially given the dearth of feedback most teachers currently receive, he said, the opportunity for teacher evaluations to improve education is particularly strong.

“I think the most critical change we can make in U.S. K-12 education is to create teacher feedback systems … that are properly funded, high quality, and trusted by teachers,” he wrote.

Since 2009, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project to figure out how to build an evaluation and feedback system with the goal of helping teachers improve. After working with 3,000 classroom teachers, the project this month released its third and final report, maintaining that to evaluate teacher effectiveness, schools should use student surveys, teacher observations by trained evaluators and standardized test scores.

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